22 Mar, 2019
10 : 00
Content Based Integration (CBI) refers to an approach to second language teaching organised around the content or information that students will acquire, rather than around a linguistic or other type of syllabus. In other words, students learn language through content. At YCIS Chongqing, EAL teachers increasingly use this approach to teach low level English language learners. This is because CBI encourages authentic purposes for communicating, higher-order thinking skills and acquisition of year-level academic knowledge and language. Teaching English through content often involves interdisciplinary planning which combines literacy with subjects such as science, Maths, philosophy for children, etc. However, EAL teachers use CBI methods by combining year-level literacy curriculum with basic language acquisition.
Mr Borengasser’s Year 5 pull-out students, for example, have been studying about similar elements that exist in fairy tales. While they do this, they are beginning to write non-fiction essays. The process includes analysing elements common to Disney films, organising elements into themes and then organising an essay. As they study, they learn about the features of non-ficition texts in a meaningful way. Along the way, students brainstorm together, build vocabulary through discussions, explain their ideas and justify their thinking and repeatedly engage with language.
Year 2 pull-out students recently finished an imaginary story about characters who live in the sea. These stories require students to consider problems and solutions and sequence a plot. They also learn to use the language of story-telling including “Once upon a time”, “one day” and “later”. Along the way, students build vocabulary and reinforce key features such as descriptive language and the use of speech marks. As students progress each day, they listen to each other read their stories, and they talk about next steps. The teacher explicitly models new features as well as grammar and sentence structure.
While students in both of these groups may struggle to keep up in mainstream Literacy classes, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be working on Year level content. At YCIS Chongqing, we believe that this approach helps students have a deeper understanding of literacy and the language they are learning. This helps them better prepare to transition back into mainstream Literacy classes.