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Content based syllabus

Group 6: 1. Nguyen Thi Thu 2. Ho Thao Nhung 3. Nguyen Thi Dieu Phuong 4. Nguyen Thi Mai 5. Nguyen Thi Quynh Truc

1. Definition & examples 2. Characteristics 3. Principles 4. Advantages 5. Disadvantages

1. Definition
The content-based syllabus is the teaching of content or information in the language being learned with little or no direct to teach the language itself separately from the content being taught ( Nunan 1988) This syllabus is designed when the purpose is to teach some content or information in a language that students are also learning.

Learners are helped to acquire language through the study of a series of relevant topics, each topic exploited in systematic ways and from different angles (Nunan, 1988:49-50.)

The primary purpose is to teach some content or information using the language that the students are also learning.

Content based instruction

Content-Based Instruction (CBI) is a significant approach in second language acquisition (Brinton, Snow, & Wesche, 1989). CBI is designed to provide secondlanguage learners instruction in content and language.

The focus of a CBI lesson is on the topic or subject matter. During the lesson students are focused on learning about something. This could be anything that interests them from a serious science subject to their favourite pop star or even a topical news story or film


1. The theory of language

The theory of language assumed by content-based instruction embraces the full range of communicative competence.
+ structural component (grammatical competence) + sociolinguistic and discourse competence (especially in school settings) + strategic competence.

2. The main focus of designing

A content-based syllabus, or a topical syllabus, is developed in accordance with the principles of ESP (English for Specific Purposes).
Hutchinson and Waters (1983, as cited in Nunan, 1993, p.49) suggest that the best work in the ESP area usually focuses on a process rather than a product. However, in real world situations, language often acts as a means in the process of completing tasks. Therefore, ESP should pay attention to not only the

process of learning, but also the product.

4. The way of grading tasks

With ESP and a topical syllabus, an obvious means of grading content is with reference to concepts associated with the subject questions (Nunan, 1993, p.70). However, the crucial point is to let learners understand the relationship between language and content. Therefore, in Mohans (1986) model, content facilitates learning not merely through language but also with it; an ESP course could be

organized by classroom activities which combines specific practical aspects and general theoretical aspects.

5. The balance of content and language

Content should be a vehicle to drive language learning (Hadley, 2001). The balance of content and language is also important. In a content-based syllabus, the language is the bones and skeleton while the content is the flesh and blood; the language could be seen as a means to complete a content task.


1. People learn a second language more successfully when they use the language as a means of acquiring the information, rather than as an end in itself.
Second language acquisition (SLA) research suggests that a necessary condition for successful language learning is comprehensive input. The condition requires the syllabus to focus on the meaning rather than the form. The development of the good communication skills are the foundation on which the productive skills are based.

2. Content-based instruction must reflect learners need for learning a second language. The fact is that many content-based programs serve to prepare ESL (English as a Second Language) students for academic studies or for streaming. The need to be able to access the content of academic learning and teaching as quickly as possible is of the central purpose.

Content-based approaches are built upon the previous experiences of the learners or the existing knowledge of the subject matter that theyre concerned about. The using of the pedagogical methods must aim at the overall development of the cognitive and academic skills, as well as linguistic skills.


(http://www.slidefinder.net/c/course_planni ng_syllabus_design/26197856/p2) They facilitate comprehension

Content serves as the best basic for teaching the skill areas

They address students needs

They motivate learners

They allow for integration of four skills

They allow for use authentic materials


1. Teachers - A lack of training in content-based syllabuses - Collaboration between the language teacher and the subject matter teacher is imperative - Language proficiency of the subject matter teacher and the language teacher

2. Students - Limited time to achieve adequate academic level 3. Instructional Materials - Little material available on the market 4. Assessment - How to assess subject matter and language skills within the educational system
(Source: http://www.ub.edu/filoan/CLIL/CLILbyNaves.htm)