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Teaching Foreign Languages Workshops Home
    4: Subjects Matter

Put It Into Practice: Activity A

Before You Watch
Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic
Put it Into Practice
Action Research Project
Reflect on Your Learning

Library Video Chart
Choose an Activity | Activity A | Activity B

Activity A: Designing a Content-Based Lesson

In this activity, you will design a lesson focused on content. You can elect to have students work with information that they have studied in another subject area or information that would only be available to them as students of this target language. As you answer the following questions, you can use the Content-Based Lesson (PDF, 54 K) form, or create your own chart or web to display your information.
  1. Student level. Begin by identifying the age and grade level of the students who will participate in the lesson. Then determine whether the performance level of the learners is novice, intermediate, or pre-advanced. What kinds of tasks and activities are appropriate for this level? If you teach dual-level classes, what tasks can the group do as a whole, and where might you need to differentiate tasks for different proficiency levels? Reflect on your findings from the Examine the Topic section.
  1. Content theme. Decide on a content theme. For example, if you use a textbook that follows themes, such as a chapter on foods in level one, you can broaden the text content to address other food-related topics such as nutrition or cooking. In an intermediate-level class, you can expand a lesson on typical foods of a particular culture to look into traditional recipes. Keep in mind what might be interesting to your students. You might also connect with content they are studying in other parts of the curriculum; talk to your colleagues to see what units they are doing at certain times of the year to see if there is a natural fit with the language program. For example, if immigration is a topic in a social studies course, you may be able to incorporate lessons on immigration history, patterns, or issues for the cultural groups speaking the language that you teach. Appealing to students' interests and background knowledge is a key to success.
  1. Lesson objective. Identify the goal/final objective of the lesson. Then outline the prerequisite steps you will take to reach this objective.
  1. Lesson materials. What materials will you need to teach the content? Consider the materials you will need to present vocabulary, establish context, share background knowledge, and motivate students.
  1. Instructional approach. Let the materials you have chosen guide your instructional approach. For example, if students are to interpret oral or written text, then use strategies that facilitate interpretive communication. If new terms are presented with visuals, students can guess and negotiate meaning from context as needed. If the vocabulary lends itself to TPR or TPR Storytelling, you might consider using that approach.
  1. Standards. Identify which communication modes you want to address while working within this content, and which of the other standards you want to touch on during the lesson.
  1. Here are sample lessons on meals for middle school students:
Theme: Meals
Objectives: (This will vary depending on each individual lesson.)
Materials Instructional Approach Communicative Standards Other Standards
Nutrition pyramid Use student background knowledge to discuss and give examples of foods in each category; in pairs, have students place illustrations of food items on a diagram of the pyramid. Interpersonal Connections: Nutrition

Cultures: Examples of common foods in the target cultures

Comparisons: How foods in the target culture compare with the U.S. nutrition pyramid
Recipe Have students read and follow directions to make a dish that is appropriate for students their age. Focus on measuring ingredients and on directions (infinitive or command form). Students also communicate during cooking. Interpretive
Cultures: Food products and when and where they're commonly eaten

Connections: Math for metric measurement; social studies for local ingredients; possible connection to traditions
TV ad Watch some ads for food products. For each ad, identify the product and the language used to promote the product. Then identify the audience for the ad and rate the ad's effectiveness. Interpretive Cultures: What the product is, what cultural practices are commonly associated with it, and the impact and appeal of the ad and product

Connections: Language arts for how to present an effective ad

AssignmentSubmit your content-based lesson as an assignment.

Choose an Activity | Activity A | Activity B

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4: Subjects Matter > Introduction | Before You Watch | Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic | Put It Into Practice | Action Research Project | Reflect on Your Learning
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