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TEACHING ENGLISH

THROUGH CONTENT
Nicols Brian
Training Course for English Teachers
March 9-13, 2015
Montevideo

REMEMBER:
REMEMBER

consider learners previous experience.


provide context for FL development.
focus on discourse patterns.

Receptive communicative skills development promotes productive skills development.

PRODUCTIVE SKILLS MUST NOT BE


NEGLECTED.

Techniques and strategies to facilitate


comprehension:

realia
redundancy
use of graphic organizers, etc.

Teachers must:
monitor students progress
provide immediate feedback

Assessment must measure achievement in

language skills

Early stages: learners are allowed to respond in a wide


variety of ways, from verbal to non-verbal responses.

AGAIN: PRODUCTION MUST NOT BE NEGLECTED

EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE FL throughout the


class
FL teacher = language referent

learners need to be surrounded by comprehensible


language (Krashen)

REMEMBER: using the FL for all classroom tasks


demonstrates that the new language works in life
(Curtain and Dahlberg, 2004)

Ss should have opportunities to use the language


themselves for meaningful purposes. PASSIVE
UNDERSTANDING IS NOT ENOUGH.
ENOUGH

All Ss should have opportunities to produce in the FL.


These opportunities will only arise systematically if
they are planned in advance.

Cooperative learning (small groups, pairs):


opportunities for meaningful student-centered
language use.

DETERMINING
LANGUAGE
&
SELECTING CONTENT

Each discipline has:

unique terminology and discourse style


high-frequency language,
language useful outside the classroom
low-frequency specific language,
language not useful outside the
classroom

Some curricular content may not provide students with highfrequency, flexible language skills:
skills

Mathematics language is more limited than Social


Sciences.
Natural Sciences are in the middle of the continuum.
Reading Mathematics texts is different from reading
narrative or expository texts

Language: not grammatically sequenced,


sequenced but used and
planned as required by communicative needs

Language expressed as LANGUAGE FUNCTIONS


FUNCTIONS (not
grammatical categories or vocabulary lists, but real uses of
language: asking permission, explaining, describing, etc.)

Teachers should develop language skills not inherent in the


content itself (social language)

It may be necessary to include explicit language instruction


that arises from Ss needs.

Content taught through the FL: school curriculum

Content should be cognitively engaging AND


demanding

Students MUST gain FL proficiency in all skills


commensurate with curriculum demands and grade
level

Early grades students must learn content through


hands-on, concrete experiences :
match language to meaning
gain control over the content itself

Selection of content is determined by the language


functions that are going to be taught.

Topics are chosen from the official curriculum (not


translation of Spanish teacher's classes, never 100%
correspondence with timing of Spanish topics).

Curricular content and language should be organized


around thematic units. Pre-planned Thematic Units are
already available at the 'Portafolio Docente', for English
Teachers to adapt.

Choice based on:

suitability of the content to the selected language


functions
accessibility of the content (Ss language
proficiency)
proficiency
engagement factor (Ss interests and cognitive
development)

Topics / tasks that dont foster FL proficiency should


not be selected.

REMEMBER: YOU ARE LANGUAGE TEACHERS.


TEACHERS

ONLY select content that you can sequence to


scaffold language learning, not isolated topics.

Coordination with the Spanish teacher is advisable


but not essential.

Never select content from other areas that imply


usage of Spanish ('El Gaucho').

TIP 1

use non-linguistic elements that support


comprehension when communicating in
the FL.

NEVER ASSUME FAMILIARITY WITH


VOCABULARY, STRUCTURES, ETC.
(assessment)

TIP 2

State your instructions clearly; NEVER assume Ss will


know what to do without extra support

Check for comprehension n times (n=number of times it


takes for you to make sure everybody understood).

Scaffold language
activate schemata
recycle vocabulary and structure items
introduce new language
teach
assess
repeat

TIP 3

Learning a language implies


communication.

Communication implies cooperation.

Plan activities that demand and foster


cooperation.

Center the lesson's focus on students.