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Supporting Content-Based Language Instruction

The literature on content-based instruction includes many ideas for how to support both language and content learning. Below are two especially important techniques.


  1. Teach content in a culturally responsive manner.

Teaching in a culturally responsive manner means using literature that is culturally relevant (Howard & Rodriguez-Scheel, 2017), using first language cognates where it helps student comprehension, and adapting lessons to reflect the contributions of all relevant groups. For example, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and people of other backgrounds and nationalities fought for the United States during World  War II, and lessons on the war should reflect this diversity. Web and software resources can help teachers be culturally responsive by allowing them to access culturally relevant information quickly when needed; these resources may also suggest places to include such information that the teacher might not have considered. Using software to make family connections can also help teachers understand learners’ cultural resources. As part of the unit described in this chapter’s opening scenario, Ms. Peng will  include culturally relevant material in each lesson; for example, she will address who the pioneers were, where they came from, what contributions they made, and also what problems they caused.

2. Adapt materials so that they are appropriate for learners, but do not sacrifice academic content.

To make materials more accessible to students, Echevarria and Graves (2002) suggest that teachers

  • use graphic depiction
  • outline the text
  • rewrite the text
  • use audiotapes
  • provide live demonstrations
  • use alternate books

It is important, in addition, that the grammatical structures in the adapted materials include the types of structures found in the original text.

Teachers do not have to make all of these changes themselves—they can enlist more proficient students to help, work in teacher groups and share materials, and find many of these materials already posted to the Web.


Creative Commons License
Supporting Content-Based Language Instruction by Joy Egbert and Seyed Abdollah Shahrokni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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