Is content-based instruction the future of language learning?

Will Liney

Will Liney recently graduated from the University of Exeter where he studied International Relations, Spanish and Portuguese. He spent a year working at an International Film Festival in Argentina where he gained fluency in Spanish. For the past year and a half Will, along with two other University of Exeter graduates, has been developing Immerse, a multimedia language immersion website and mobile application that aims to immerse its users in the language they are learning through fresh and authentic content.

Website: www.immerse-app.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image Credit: EIL Ireland Image Credit: EIL Ireland

I know what you are thinking, yet another “expert” is taking to the internet to talk about the latest method of language learning. In all honesty, for me, the only way to truly become fluent in the language you are learning is to immerse yourself in it, go to the country, speak to and befriend native speakers, learn about what they watch and read. This will do you more good than 10 years of classes at home. My personal experience with this was heading off to Argentina for a year, where I lived with native speakers and worked in Spanish, I returned home fluent and I have been looking for a reason to go back out there ever since!

However, how do you best engage pupils in the language they are learning while they are at school? How do you motivate them to learn? I believe the only way to do this is to really expose them to the language they are learning, to provide them with an understanding of the wider context of why they are learning that language. A lot of the time, and I remember this at school, we didn't understand why we were doing it. "Everyone speaks English", "This isn't actually going to help me in later life" etc. I believe if you give pupils a reason, a genuine reason to engage with the language, they will become proactive and start to learn more.


Along comes content-based instruction (CBI). At its core, CBI is designed to provideAt its core, CBI is designed to provide second-language learners with instruction in content and language."At its core, CBI is designed to provide second-language learners with instruction in content and language." second-language learners with instruction in content and language. Historically, the word content has changed its meaning in language teaching. Content used to refer to the methods of grammar-translation, audio-lingual methodology and vocabulary or sound patterns in dialog form. Recently, however, content is interpreted as the use of subject matter as a vehicle for second or foreign language teaching/learning. I want to focus on its recent interpretation as I believe this is what will change language learning for the better.


When students are exposed to a considerable amount of language through stimulating content, they explore interesting content & are engaged in appropriate language-dependent activities. Languages are not learned through direct instruction, but rather acquired "naturally" or automatically. This goes back to my point about immersing yourself in the culture of native speakers; you cannot learn through forced grammar exercises, but you will learn naturally if properly engaged.


CBI supports contextualised learning; learners are taught useful language that is embedded within relevant discourse contexts rather than as isolated language fragments. Hence students make greater connections with the language and what they already know. If a student is given a genuinely interesting context, it provides a certain level of motivation for them to go on learning that language. Say you have a student who is interested in fashion - they will no doubt be reading about and watching content related to fashion. Put this into a context of language learning and you will have an engaged student. Furthermore, complex information is delivered through real life context for the students to grasp well and leads to intrinsic motivation. Students need to learn from passion, when a subject genuinely interests them, they read watch and learn more. Applying content-based instruction will give teachers and students greater flexibility and adaptability in the curriculum.


So there we are, a very quick rundown of content-based instruction and how it is going to change the language learning universe! A bold claim I know, but seriously, watch this space.


Do you use content-based instruction? Share your experiences below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"