Second Language Oral Production in Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Theoretically, CLIL draws on research that situates the integration of language and content as the relationship between form and meaning. An understanding of the theory and practice related to the content-based classroom is essential to the present study. In this section of the chapter, I outline the underlying theory and rationale commonly cited as a basis for CLIL, review empirical research that has evaluated CLIL in the classroom, and outline various approaches designed to integrate language and content.

CLIL is an umbrella term that captures a wide range of classroom models that include attention to content and language. CLIL is premised on the belief that language and content are inseparable in SLA, and that language is "a system that relates what is being talked about (content) and the means used to talk about it (expression)" (Mohan, p. 1). As a pedagogical framework, CLIL has been widely adopted as an alternative to traditional models of teaching that separated language and content. These models promoted teaching of language as the subject of classroom instruction and have been criticized as consisting of "piecemeal, bottom-up approaches" (Stryker & Leaver, 6). In adult and school-based education, it "aims at eliminating the artificial separation between language instruction and subject matter classes" (Brinton. 2) and offers a two for one approach. Theoretically, CLIL draws on research that situates the integration of language and content as the relationship between form and meaning. An understanding of the theory and practice related to the content-based classroom is essential to the present study. In this section of the chapter, I outline the underlying theory and rationale commonly cited as a basis for CLIL, review empirical research that has evaluated CLIL in the classroom, and outline various approaches designed to integrate language and content

Selinker pointed out that context may affect L2 learners' inter-language (IL) development and performance. The term content area literacy has recently come to be associated with emergent term

In the professional and research literature, support for the integration of language and content draws largely on research situated in SLA and related disciplines. For example, research in cognitive psychology exploring the link between depth of processing and memory has found that input that is semantically rich encourages greater depth of processing and facilitates recall of learning (Anderson & Reder, 403), and research in learning theory suggests that interesting content engages learners and encourages the development of an associative network (Tobias, 94). As a framework for instruction, however, CLIL has been most strongly influenced from within SLA by the work of Stephen Krashen who made theoretical claims that promoted an exclusive focus on content and meaning, and an incidental role for attention to language structure. Krashen viewed language acquisition as a process in which learners acquired structure by focusing on meaning rather than form. He argued that learners focus on the meaning and not on the form of the message and proposed that language acquisition occurs when learners are provided with comprehensible input: meaningful input that is provided via language that is just slightly beyond the learners' linguistic proficiency, thus making it challenging to the learner. According to Krashen, the best type of input is "so interesting and relevant that the acquirer may even 'forget' that the message is encoded in a foreign language" (Krashen, 66). In line with this perspective, the effective classroom was considered one in which teachers focused primarily on content with the assumption that learning of language form would follow. Examples of this include the Natural Method; the task-based approach of Prabhu's Communicational Teaching Project and some Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classrooms in which a 'language bath' stimulates language acquisition without direct instruction (Dalton-Puffer, 207).

CLIL was also influenced by the development of communicative language teaching (CLT), an approach which emerged as an alternative to language instruction in which learners learned much about the structure of language but failed to develop proficiency as language users. CLT advocated a strong role for meaning in the classroom and is premised on the notion that the goal of
...Consistent with this goal, CLT involves learning activities intended to prepare the learner to "communicate meanings effectively" (Littlewood, 16). Unlike Krashen's perspective, however, a role for attention to form is acknowledged: "Communication cannot take place in the absence of structure, or grammar, a set of shared assumptions about how language works, along with a willingness of participants to cooperate in the negotiation of meaning" (Savignon, 640). In a review of CLT, Spada affirms a balance of form and meaning as consistent with the underlying philosophy of CLT. This symbiotic relationship between form and meaning, as language and content, is the cornerstone of much content-based language teaching.

CLIL has also been informed and encouraged by research and pedagogy concerned with subject matter teaching in schools. In this context, Cummins drew attention to the relationship between the learning of content knowledge and learners' language proficiency. Citing research that has documented the academic challenges faced by minority language children who appear to be proficient linguistically yet unable to achieve academically at grade appropriate levels, Cummins suggested a model of proficiency that included both interpersonal communicative skills rooted in the social context and academic language skills required for the classroom. He argued that in order to help children learn the academic language, teaching must consider how content and language intersect in the classroom and plan scaffolding tasks for learners. Along these lines, Cummins proposed a framework that integrates content and language learning by considering the degree of contextual support and cognitive demand inherent in the tasks. A greater degree of context in a task makes it easier for learners to access the content with less cognitive demand while less context forces learners to stretch their linguistic resources. For example, literacy is cognitively demanding because it requires a more precise command of language without added support in order for content to be understood. Appropriately, literacy becomes a primary focus in content-based programs where documents are often used as a source of content. In this framework, content and language are integrated when tasks are planned to scaffold learners from a reliance on context and low cognitive demand, to a greater reliance on language to communicate and understand content. Cummins' theoretical and empirical research has provided support for the integration of content and language while underscoring the complexity of this relationship.

Despite general agreement on the theoretical soundness of CBLT (Content-based language teaching), the question of how to integrate language and content in the classroom has been approached from diverse perspectives and a number of proposals have emerged. One of the earliest is Mohan's model of knowledge frameworks. This model draws on a functional linguistics approach that focuses on the functions of language rather than the structural components. This model views content knowledge as framed by key concepts which are shared across topics and themes. It provides a framework that guides teachers and learners through processes in which they draw on the concepts to identify information specific to the topic content. In this way, learners develop the language to understand and communicate the content. In addition to the support afforded by the framework, graphic organizers are used to guide learners through the content.

Snow, Met, and Genesee propose a different approach to integrating content and language. They recommend that teachers begin by analyzing learners' academic and communicative needs in order to identify relationships between language and content. These relationships are framed within a perspective of 'language serving content': language that is essential to the content is 'content-obligatory' and language that naturally occurs in the content is 'content-compatible'. This activity helps the teacher decide what language outcomes to address. In this approach, language and content are ordinarily taught by different teachers who collaborate to develop language objectives to be addressed alongside content objectives. It could also be taught by one teacher who adopts a dual role.

Another perspective on the integration of language and content is reflected in The Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) (Chamot & O'Malley, 94). This approach draws together content learning, language learning and explicit instruction in learning strategies. The aim of this approach is to help learners become better at learning so they can learn language and content knowledge. The content determines both the language and the strategies needed and lessons are structured to scaffold learners through the content.

Classroom tasks have also been adopted as a means of integrating language and content. Pedagogic tasks in the SLA literature have been commonly defined in terms of goal focused activities in which meaning is primary (Ellis, 353). A prominent example of this approach is Prabhu's School-based project in Bangalore, India. Prabhu adopted tasks as a means of creating communicative need in the classroom and providing a framework for activities that help learners infer meaning and solve problems using language. He argued that "meaning-focused activity ensures that any attention to form is (1) contingent to dealing…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, J.R., & Reder, L.M. "An elaborative processing explanation of depth of processing." In L.S. Cermak, & F.I. M Craik (Eds.), Levels of processing in human memory (pp. 385-403). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1979

Biancarosa, G.. After third grade. "The research base points to nine key instructional strategies for improving literacy for older students." Educational Leadership, 63(2), 16-22. 2005

Bogaert, N., Van Gorp, K., Bultynck, B., Lanssens, A., & Depauw, V.. "Task-based language teaching in science education and vocational training." In K. Van den Branden (Ed.), Task-based language education: from theory to practice (pp.106-128). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 2006

Brinton, D.M., Snow, M.A., & Wesche, M.. "Content-based second language instruction." Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. 2003

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