EGBERT Ch. 7. Content-Based Instruction
Crucial to content instruction for ELLs is that the message be understandable, and that the content remain intact. That means we should pre-teach vocabulary, use the students' backgrounds and previous knowledge as resources to scaffold their further learning, and we should use a plethora of visuals and hands-on materials and activities. Egbert points out that the use of real content can make the language meaningful and authentic for our ELLs. The language (and language support) the teacher uses and teaches before and during the content lessons can make the content accessible. So, language and content instruction can be integrated nicely (with a lot of planning) to give students every opportunity to learn and succeed in their classes. She also stresses the importance of cultural relevance, and I absolutely agree that this is extremely important.
The most obvious way to incorporate technology into content lessons is for research and visual support. As the author notes, however, we must choose the Web sites for research carefully. Too many options can be confusing, and some of these websites are really not geared for ELLs or even younger students. By having students do their own research on topics they love or are interested in, their affective filters can be reduced. There is also a wide variety of cultural resources online that classroom teachers would have a hard time getting access to.
I love the NASA site www.nasa.gov , and some others I'll post separately as a links list. What's great is that these sites walk the students through the lessons and there is built-in language support (glossary links, demonstrations, and lots of visuals).
I like the lesson plan Egbert refers to here from CoBaLTT (Content-Based Language Teaching with Technology, http://www.carla.umn.edu/cobaltt/ ), with "Content Obligatory" and "Content Compatible" goals, the first for content and the second for language objectives. Egbert also advocates using outlines, rewriting the text for students, using audio and visual support, and modeling. These are all useful techniques for ESL, EFL, and content-based instruction.