Translated science textbooks in dual language programs: A comparative English-Spanish functional linguistic analysis

Andrés Ramirez, Sabrina F. Sembiante, Luciana C. de Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A comparative lexicogrammatical and logicosemantic systemic functional analysis of two third-grade science curricular units on the topic of “matter” written in Spanish is presented. One of these curricular units, translated from an English textbook, or “mirror text,” is used in dual language programs (Spanish-English) in the United States; the other is used in regular elementary science for monolingual Spanish students in some Latin American countries, including Colombia and Venezuela. After a discussion on how standards-aligned textbooks contribute to the deskilling and further disenfranchising of teachers that corresponds to a neoliberal agenda for education, the cross-linguistic analysis reveals that while the mirror text reflected a knower-code structure preoccupied with the here and now and with building interpersonal affiliations, the authentic Spanish text was concerned with building knowledge codes related to global themes seeking to build disciplinary science knowledge. That is, by foregrounding English structure and curricular pacing, the use of translated or mirror texts in dual language programs (in this case translated Spanish versions of English regular textbooks) unintentionally but effectively served as a lexicogrammatical, semantic, and curricular straightjacket not only preventing students and teachers from making potential key meaningful connections between languages but calling into question the possibility of a real language separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-311
Number of pages14
JournalBilingual Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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