Content-Based Instruction in EFL Contexts: Considerations for Effective Implementation
? Base: a review of pervious studies; the author’s observation of classes in EFL contexts in East Asia. ? Purpose: to discuss a number of factors that influence the successful implementation of CBI and to suggest conditions and considerations that are necessary for the effective implementation of CBI, specifically in East Asia EFL contexts.
? ? ? ? 1. What is CBI ? 2. Types of CBI 3. Factors that Influence the Success of CBI 4. Considerations Needed for Implementing CBI in EFL Contexts
? 1.1 What is CBI? ? The term “content-based instruction” refers to an approach that integrates language instruction with content instruction, but which allows the content to determine the nature and order of the linguistic syllabus (Brinton et al., 1989).
? By providing students with authentic, meaningful academic contexts, it aims to develop both the students’ language and their content knowledge.
? 1.2 The theories support CBI: ? The Input Hypothesis --- In CBI, students have the opportunity to be exposed to meaningful and comprehensive input in context, which is considered to be an important element for language acquisition. ? The Output Hypothesis --- CBI also provides students with opportunities to negotiate meaning and to exercise productive language skills through which they also can pay attention to forms as well as meaning.
? Educational and cognitive theories support the cognitive skills and learning strategies in CBI:
? CBI facilitates students’ higher-order thinking skills and motivation by providing them with cognitively challenging content materials and tasks.
? 2. Types of CBI:
? CBI is found in English programs, bilingual programs, foreign language programs, heritage language programs, and other programs across grade levels. ? Some programs emphasize the students’ language development more than content learning, while others put stronger emphasis on helping students acquire content learning.
3.Factors that Influence the Success of CBI
? The effectiveness of CBI appears to be influenced by these factors: ? 3.1 Program Setting and Curriculum ? 3.2 Characteristics of the Teachers ? 3.3 Characteristics of learners ? 3.4 Resource availability
3.1 Program Setting and Curriculum
? Students’ and teachers’ needs, goals, and expectations for CBI vary greatly. CBI curricula thus vary in the way in which they balance the focus between language and content. Different emphases in curricula in turn influence the types of syllabi, lessons, activities, and materials that are employed in CBI.
3.2 Characteristics of the Teachers
? Some CBI programs are taught by language teachers, others are led by content teachers, and many are conducted with the collaboration of both types of teachers. ? Students in mainstream classes in ESL contexts attribute a lower status to language t
eachers than to content teachers.
? The following teacher qualities influence the effectiveness of CBI programs: ? (a) Teachers’ proficiency in English or the target language. ? (b) Teachers’ content knowledge. ? (c) Teachers’ instructional strategies. ? (d) Teachers’ attitudes including their expectations for student achievement.
3.3 Characteristics of the Learners
? Students also vary in terms of: ? (a) their proficiency in the target language ? (b) their background knowledge of the content being instructed ? (c) the learning strategies and styles they have acquired ? (d) their age and level of cognitive development ? (e) their motivation and anxiety levels
? Students are unlikely to perform well if their language proficiency (academic language proficiency in particular), cognitive schemata, developmental levels, and learning styles do not match the curriculum and instruction given in the CBI program.
3.4 Resource Availability
? The most important resources include: ? (a) collaboration among teachers, administrative staff, parents, and community. ? (b) allocation of time and money. ? (c) preparation of textbooks and other kinds of material.
? Difficulties: ? In foreign language education contexts, imported textbooks may not match well with local curricula or national standards. ? The content of certain “authentic” material may also be far too unfamiliar to students.
4. Considerations Needed for Implementing CBI in EFL Contexts
? 4.1 The importance of needs analysis ? 4.2 Sufficient support for teachers ? 4.3 Careful monitoring of student learning and awareness of potential problems ? 4.4 Securing sufficient resources
4.1 The importance of needs analysis
? In EFL contexts, the main motivation for employing CBI is to provide students with optimal and meaningful input through content so that they can develop an adequate use of the target language. ? So the curriculum is largely driven by language criteria and development. Program goals and student needs should be analyzed specifically from the focus of language.
? The issues that are often ignored in CBI in EFL contexts:
? First, providing meaningful input through content is not necessarily sufficient for adequate language development. ? Second, it is difficult to select both content and language topics and order them in such a way that they are meaningful and appropriate for students. ? Lastly, in EFL contexts, there appears to be insufficient discussion as to why content matter has to be offered in the students’ foreign language in the first place.
4.2 Sufficient Support for Teachers
? Content teachers and language teachers have little time to negotiate between themselves how to develop and implement CBI together. ? Informal efforts: language teachers giving English lessons to content teachers; language teachers sitting through content classes in order to familiarize themselves with such content. ? It
is necessary to provide both language and content teachers with systematic support so that they can address their weaknesses, negotiate the goals of CBI, and make effective collaboration possible.
4.3 Careful Monitoring of Student Learning and Awareness of Potential Problems
? EFL students have very limited exposure to the target language in general, they might not have the necessary linguistic proficiency to deal with content. ? In CBI classes, although it is assumed that only the target language is used in the class. However, their L1 may be used subject to certain conditions. ? Some programs allow students with lower proficiency to respond to the teachers' questions in their L1. ? To provide students with content background readings in their L1 in order to facilitate content learning in their foreign language
? However, allowing students excessive access to their L1 during class can prevent them from receiving meaningful and comprehensive input in the target language. ? If students have to depend heavily on their L1 to digest content, introducing the particular content is inappropriate in terms of both their language development and content learning.
4.4 Securing Sufficient Resources
? In East Asian EFL contexts, it is not uncommon for schools to start introducing CBI without some related resources. ? Example: the Bridge Program in Hong Kong ? Tremendous efforts were made to develop a spiral curriculum across content domains; students were exposed to linguistic forms systematically and repeatedly in multiple subjects.
? Discussion: What are the differences between the CBI in ESL contexts and the CBI in EFL contexts?
Content-based instruction in Hong Kong: student responses to film
Film as content
? Visual media are highly motivating for students and also contextualize language development by providing meaningful and authentic models of language use (Lonergan, 1984). ? The visual elements of film and television do seem to assist with comprehension.
? Place：the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
? The participants：vast majority of Cantonese
speakers students who have had upward of 14 years of English language instruction. ? The program: General Education program offered by a variety of departments in either English or Chinese. Taught by ELT instructors.
? Name of the course : Thinking Through the Culture of Film. ? Purpose: help student’s learn something about films in the course and as well as analytical/critical thinking skills, and language skills. ? The teaching methodology: communicative approach , a majority of class time is spent in smallgroup and whole-group discussion. ? Classroom activities: brief quizzes, brainstorming, teacher-led introductions, student-led presentations, group discussion and analysis.
? The methodological approach : to provide students with as many opportunities for meaningful communication in English as possible and to develop gre
ater analytical and critical thinking skills. ? Subject : eight films are discussed in detail over the course of the semester — seven assigned by the teacher and one nominated by the students. ? Language of the films: not always English, but closed captions or subtitles are in English. ? Requirement: to view the films outside class up to a week before the discussion of each film.
The characteristic of the course
? No one theoretical model. ? Departure from most traditional language courses even from more typical CBI course in FL setting. ? No specific English language teaching aims. ? The instructor attempts to unite language and content with critical thinking and academic skills, within an alternative program model.
The research focus
? A small- scale study to explore students' beliefs about their own language and academic development. ? Ask student s to reflect on the progress they believed they had made, to rate their own development and comment on the skills they thought they had acquired.
? An anonymous end-of-course questionnaire in six area. ? The four categories — a great deal, quite a bit, a little or no improvement — were designed to differentiate the degree of improvement for the students.
Results and discussion
? What did the students gained from the approach used in this course? ? Analytical and critical thinking skills—the greatest skills students felt they had acquired， second , English language skills, such as listening and speaking skills, writing and oral presentation . ? students are more confident in doing something, as well as acquire some knowledge about cultural issues and aesthetic appreciation.
? ``I think I have learned to think more when I watch a film.'' ? “I also learned to pay attention to every detail of the film, which makes the story a whole fiction that conveys some message.” ? “I know how to analyze a film deeply, and find deeper meanings inside the film.” ? `[I have learned] how to watch and analyze a film and express my idea in English better.' '
? The main focus of this program is on content, so the target is to help students develop analytical /critical thinking skills, understanding of cultural issues and aesthetic appreciation. And by speaking and discussion in English, help students to develop their English skills, such as listening, writing, etc. According to the data analysis, this program is successful.
? limitations — questionnaires in providing reliable data，student responses to the program are very positive. ? More longitudinal studies of content -based approaches would elucidate the appropriateness of these models for EFL teaching, particularly in Asian contexts.
? Pedagogical model, classroom methodology, use of film as content are not used separately, all of them are important. ? A number of other conditions that have contributed to the program in important ways.
sion ? What kind of class will suggest according to CBI instruction in our high school?