Literacy in science teaching

Embed literacy teaching into your curriculum using these resources and ideas to support learners' reading and writing about science and develop their understanding of technical language


Reading scientific texts is a skill that needs to be taught and practised. Reading textbooks, articles, exam questions or even personal study notes requires a very different approach to reading a novel. Find tips and activities to develop scientific reading skills in these articles and resources.

Reading comprehension activities

  • Reciprocal reading task: agriculture and ammonia | 14–16 years

  • Structure and bonding: exploding exam questions | 14–16 years

  • Separating caffeine | 11–14 years

  • Hand sanitiser in demand – reading comprehension

  • Can UV light help tackle the coronavirus?

  • Advances in water treatment

  • It’s an ant’s life

  • Body, heal thyself

  • How was the first artificial dye made? | 16-18 years

  • How are fireworks and gunpowder made? | 14-16 years

More on reading comprehension

An illustration of hands holding up Chemistry textbooks

Effective reading strategies for the chemistry classroom

Try these simple, teacher-tested approaches to build your students’ literacy skills

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How to teach reading in science

Worried your students struggle with chemistry texts? You're not alone. Here are two solutions


Science communication can take many forms and writing helps students reflect on their understanding and formulate their ideas. Give your students opportunities to write for a variety of different audiences and purposes.


Learning to write in chemistry

Michael Seery highlights the importance of carefully-designed writing activities in enabling students to build their scientific writing skills

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Communicating through writing

An image showing a male student dipping his pen into a conical flask containing ink

Understanding comes with writing

How writing builds learning

Illlustration of two people discussing science

Building better science communicators

Kristy Turner explains why science teachers should help develop student literacy

Extended writing activities

  • Justice and injustice in chemistry: aspirin and other drugs | 16–18 years

  • The politics of energy – structure strip | 14–16 years

  • Plant-based plastics | 11–14 years

  • Why do sediments form layers? | 11-14 years

  • How do car exhaust gases impact the environment? | 16-18 years

  • New chemist article


An image showing pupils sitting an exam

Strategies for six-mark questions

Get your students practising answering these within the time limit

The language of chemistry

Alongside the fundamental ideas of chemistry, learners have to decipher new key words, definitions and command words. This means learning chemistry can be akin to learning a new language. Help students to improve their scientific vocabulary with these ideas and pedagogical approaches to etymology and the language of chemistry.


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Knowing words’ origins helps students unravel chemistry

Teach the origins of chemical vocabulary


The stories behind the words

Simon Rees reveals the origins of some chemical terms and what they can mean for students