Give 'Em Something to Talk About

Communicative language teaching, task-based language teaching, problem-based language teaching, post-methodology teaching--these methodologies around which we build our curricula all focus on the language aspect of language teaching. Our outcomes articulate what language students can understand and what they can produce with the language.

All of this is logical--learning language is why our students take our classes. However, in our focus on language, we sometimes forget that as our students learn to speak English, they need to have something to speak ABOUT. We need to have content in our curriculum as well as language. And as the level of language proficiency of our students increases, so should the level of complexity of the content that they talk about.

The Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLILapproach to language teaching attempts to address this content shortfall in other teaching methodologies. While CLIL is mostly used for language teaching at the K-12 level, it is also in evidence in adult language classes in the trend towards "English for ..." classes, such as English for Nurses, English for Finance, English for Oil and Gas, etc. Take a quick look at your curriculum documents. Does your curriculum have enough focus on content? Do your students have something to talk about?