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!