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Content Based Learning
Program Types
Cooperative Learning
Content Based Learning
Thematic Instruction
Learning Strategy Instruction

Content Based Learning is a study of both language acquisition and subject matter.  Instead of teaching language in isolation, the target language becomes the medium in which important information can be learned.  When the students are studying a content area of interest (i.e. snakes, the Holocaust, immigration, etc), they are more intrinsically motivated to learn both the content and the language simultaneously.  The students are actually able to use their new language.  Content Based Learning is most appropriate at intermediate and advanced proficiency levels.  

Many models for Content Based Learning exist.  In some schools, two teachers team-teach the content and language.  In other schools, the content teacher and the language teacher link their classes and curriculum to compliment each other. The most challenging situation is where one teacher is responsible for both content and language, i.e. a Biology teacher whose class contains all ESOL students.  The teacher must be an expert in both fields.

Some examples of content based curricula:

  • Immersion program
  • Sheltered English programs
  • Writing across the curriculum (where writing skills in secondary schools and universities are taught within subject-matter areas like biology, history, art, etc.)

Source: Brown, Douglas. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy