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Content-based Instructional Strategies for ELL
Workshop #: CECO-20


This course focuses on effective content-based instructional strategies for English language learners (ELL). Learn how to balance the dual focus on language and subject matter, and also learn a helpful framework for designing content-based classes and lessons. Examine different criteria for choosing and developing the content to teach, as well as factors influencing the choice, development, and adaptation of materials. Learn several useful activity types and how to integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing in content-based instruction with students at different proficiency levels. Explore and learn how to implement technological resources available for developing content-based curricula, and understand how assessment is affected by the use of content-based instruction.

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Apply the “Six-T’s Approach” to developing their own content-based lessons. Originally proposed by Stoller and Grabe (1997), the Six T’s provides a useful framework for designing content-based courses.
  • Integrate the four skills and language components in content-based instruction and develop a content-based unit that includes prototypical activities in order to create an integrated-skills focus.
  • Work with students at various proficiency levels, using techniques related to using content-based instruction with (literate) beginners, false beginners, intermediate, and advanced language learners.
  • Incorporate numerous technological resources that can be used in content-based instruction. These include Internet resources, such as websites that give information about language learning and teaching, as well as those that provide subject matter information.
  • Assess issues in content-based instruction and assess learners’ language skills and content knowledge with the main purposes of language testing and criteria used to evaluate language measures. They should also be able to explain the role alternative and authentic assessment play in language testing and content-based instruction.

Student Expectations:
This online course is experiential and interactive. Participants will engage in a variety of activities to learn, practice, and apply the skills outlined in the course. This will include reflective journal exercises, short answers that are reviewed by a moderator, quizzes, and observation and analysis of lessons. A final exam is also a part of the course. Participation in all of these areas is necessary for students to successfully complete the course with a passing grade.

Upon completion of the course, students can decide if they would like to receive credit and from which university they would like to receive credit. Please see the Affiliations tab at the top of the main page,, or select How to Obtain Credits under the Obtaining Credits tab within your account.

Class Outline:

Lesson 1
   1a. Defining Content Based Instruction
   1b. Seven Characteristics of Content-Based Instruction
   1c. The Seven Characteristics of CBI: A Classroom Example
   1d. The Seven Characteristics of CBI: A Classroom Example (Continued)
   1e. Subject Areas Used As the Basis for CBI Courses
   1f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 2
   2a. Sustained Content-Based Instruction
   2b. The Adjunct Model
   2c. Sheltered Content Instruction
   2d. Theme-Based Instruction
   2e. A Comparison of the Four Types of Content-Based Instruction
   2f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 3
   3a. The Immersion Model
   3b Language Across the Curriculum and Content-Enriched FLES
   3c. Language for Specific Purposes
   3d. General English Curricula
   3e. The Relationship of the Curricular Models to CBI
   3f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 4
   4a. Components of the Six-T’s Approach
   4b. Texts and Tasks
   4c. Transitions
   4d. Example of the Six-T’s Approach
   4e. Example of the Six-T’s Approach (Continued)
   4f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 5
   5a. The Shifting Focus of Language and Content
   5b. The Interacting Subsystems of Language
   5c. Helping Students Learn the Language of the Subject Matter
   5d. The Balance of Language and Content Instruction in Different CBI Courses
   5e. Practical Activities for the CBI Classroom
   5f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 6
   6a. Themes That Have Been Addressed in CBI Curricula
   6b. Criteria for Theme Selection
   6c. Learning Content and Language through "Multiple Exposures"
   6d. An Example of Exploitability in a Topic
   6e. Theme Selection in a Sustained Content Course in Guinea
   6f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 7
   7a. Materials in Content-Based Instruction
   7b. The Textbook and Beyond
   7c. The Value of Using Authentic Materials in CBI
   7d. Background Knowledge and Content-Based Materials
   7e. Schema Activation and Advance Organizers
   7f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 8
   8a. Task-Based Learning
   8b. Elements of a Task
   8c. Seven Principles for Task-Based Language Teaching
   8d. Creating Visual Products
   8e. Project-Based Learning
   8f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 9
   9a. Revisiting the Four Skills
   9b. Activities for Integrating the Four Skills in Content-Based Instruction
   9c. Vocabulary Building in Content-Based Instruction
   9d. Focusing on Grammar in Content-Based Instruction
   9e. A Sample Unit Integrating the Four Skills, Grammar, and Vocabulary
   9f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 10
   10a. Proficiency and Language Learners
   10b. Understanding Scaffolding in Content-Based Instruction
   10c. Scaffolding Strategies for Language Teachers
   10d. Modifying Communication with Learners
   10e. Scaffolding CBI Lessons
   10f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 11
   11a. Technology and the Six-T's Approach to Content-Based Instruction
   11b. Technology and Information about Content Areas
   11c. Information about Language, Language Learning, and Language Teaching
   11d. Technological Applications and Language Teaching
   11e. Technology Tools in Language Lessons
   11f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 12
   12a. Useful Language Assessment
   12b. Purposes and Methods of Language Assessment
   12c. Alternative Assessment
   12d. Authentic Assessment in Content-Based Instruction
   12e. Assessing Language and Content
   12f. Supplementary Material

Evaluation Final Exam
Contact Information: or 425-788-7275 Ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

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