Decontextualized Language: A Problem, Not a Solution

James Gee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Why do children from some minority groups and children living in poverty do poorly in school when compared to white middle-class children? Researchers have offered a large number of different answers to this question. One of the most popular answers has been based on the notion of "decontextualized language." This article argues that this widely influential answer is wrong and misleading, because it is based on a poor theory of how human language works. In turn, I will suggest a better theory of language with which to pursue the question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • context
  • decontextualized language
  • language
  • learning
  • literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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