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Teaching Chemistry As A Cross Cultural Subject: It And Linguistics

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Models for Teaching and Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1349.1 - 12.1349.20



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Paper Authors

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Margherita Landucci Liceo Artistico Statale

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Fabio Garganego Municipality of Venice

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Chemistry as a Cross-cultural Subject IT & Linguistics Abstract

The main theme of this paper is the language of chemical formulae rather than the language that explains chemistry; the focus of our interest is the code used in writing chemical formulae.

The paper describes the nature and scope of a research project started by an out-of-school multidisciplinary team who set up in 1993 and concluded their research in 2003. The research was conducted in Italy in technical as well as classical secondary schools with students 14-16 and 16-18 y.o. respectively; different socio-cultural contexts were also part of the parameters.

This work discusses how communication about chemical topics has been improved by getting the student to master the world language of chemistry. This task was accomplished following a procedure divided in three different stages.

The first stage involved the use of a computer card-game based on the chemistry code. The software CHICKA (Code Helping In Chemical Knowledge Acquisition, © 1999) was built on the entire set of chemistry rules for composing inorganic chemical formulae; the chemistry rules were translated into game rules.

Throughout the game one inadvertently learns to build chemical formulae and concepts such as valency, electronegativity and stereochemistry.

The second stage identifies links between Chemistry and Linguistics by applying to the chemistry known natural language concepts such as morphemes and lexemes in order to make students understand the concept of chemical formulae long before the explanation of chemical bonds and molecular structures is carried out, and by giving teachers some guidelines on practical application to chemistry through such concepts as context, actants and student’s encyclopaedia.

The third stage gives to some familiar processes a scientific interpretation to be used as a vehicle towards theories of physical-chemistry. A drastically diminished time gap between teaching and learning was the result that demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach. The shorter time necessary for the student to learn and command chemical formulae allowed the teacher to increase the time spent in introducing and explaining chemical concepts; it also allowed for an increased participation of the students to the class.

It is at this level that the main difference and results of the method proposed in this study could be appreciated. By keeping all real life examples and situations closely within the correct context, and by ensuring that the story was always closely related to the story of real life known to the student, it was possible to transmit to students how pervasive to real life Chemistry is by simply ensuring to use the students’ encyclopaedia. By ensuring that students could always link the concept of actants as they knew from linguistics with the new actants as they were discovering in chemical processes, a good interdisciplinary bridge was built. The fact that the full process was transparent to the students (interdisciplinary links were outlined and explained) contributed greatly to the students involvement.

Landucci, M., & Garganego, F. (2007, June), Teaching Chemistry As A Cross Cultural Subject: It And Linguistics Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2412

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