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Language Link

March 2001


Previous issues

This publication was prepared with funding from the National Library of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of NLE, OERI, or ED.


Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology (CoBaLTT)

Diane Tedick, Associate Professor of Second Languages and Cultures Education, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

With the aim of providing language teachers with practical tools to help them learn to incorporate content-based language instruction into the classroom, the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) launched the Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology (CoBaLTT) initiative in 1999, with funding from the Eisenhower Professional Development Program and the U.S. Department of Education's Language Resource Center program. CoBaLTT offers a technology-based professional development program and a Web-based resource center, both of which respond to the growing need for materials and training to change the focus of language instruction from grammar to meaningful communication.

Shifting to Content-Based Instruction

Second language education aims to help individuals communicate across linguistic and cultural boundaries (Tedick & Walker, 1994). To enable students to reach that goal, it is crucial that second language instruction prepare them to use their skills in demanding, real-world situations. Teaching them to talk about a language, describe its grammar, and conjugate verbs in sterile, clinical isolation from a broader cultural context will not serve that goal. Students must be able to participate in culturally appropriate ways in interaction with members of other cultures. They must be able to interpret and understand the nuances of concepts, ideas, and opinions as they are expressed through media and literatures (National Standards for Foreign Language Education, 1996).

Despite the emphasis on proficiency-oriented language instruction in the last decade, grammar remains the key organizing principle in most language classrooms. However, in order to emphasize the communicative nature of language and to acknowledge that language has meaning only within social and academic contexts, educators must view the target language "largely as the vehicle through which subject matter content is learned, rather than as the immediate object of study" (Brinton et al., 1989, p. 5). To do so requires rethinking language curricula in ways that make content themes and performance tasks the organizing principles and allow language structures to emerge from those themes and tasks.

Many teachers have responded to the need to refocus language instruction in more meaningful ways by organizing their lessons around content. This approach--content-based instruction or CBI--has been defined as "...the integration of particular content with language teaching aims" (Brinton et al., 1989, p. 2). It is based on the principle that successful language learning occurs when students are presented with target language material in meaningful, contextualized forms with the primary focus on acquiring information and knowledge. Content is the organizing principle, and other aspects of language (linguistic structures, vocabulary, functions) are presented as needed (Snow et al., 1989).

The CoBaLTT project supports the goal of helping teachers orient their lessons around CBI through the use of a technology-based professional development program and a resource center on the Web. The program and resource center are described below.

The CoBaLTT Professional Development Program

The CoBaLTT professional development program was established to provide intensive training for world language teachers on incorporating content-based language instruction into the classroom using technology. The program helps teachers create authentic content-based materials on the Web that motivate students to become proficient with their language skills and meet challenging standards.

Each year, since 1999, a cohort of world language teachers has participated in a year-long program that includes a week-long summer institute and three two-day workshops. The program focuses on:

After returning to their classrooms following the summer institute, CoBaLTT participants use their newly acquired skills to incorporate technology in their classes and develop content-based lessons and units. In a series of follow-up workshops, participants receive additional technology instruction and work in groups to develop content-based, technology-enhanced lessons. Throughout the year-long program, participants also attend presentations, learn additional technology skills, and work collaboratively on content-based, technology-enhanced lessons and performance-based assessments materials that align with national standards.

The completed CoBaLTT lessons developed by last year's cohort of participants are posted on the CoBaLTT Web Resource Center. When completed in late spring 2001, the materials created by the second cohort of teachers will be added to the Web site. A list of projects currently under development is also available. After the instructional modules are completed later this year, other teachers from around the country will be invited to submit materials.

The CoBaLTT Resource Center

The CoBaLTT Resource Center at offers many content-based tasks and lesson plans for a variety of languages and instructional levels. Under development are the following:


Plans for future development include an array of additional services, such as interactive instructional modules on using technology in the language classroom, content-based curriculum development materials, content-based teaching strategies, performance-based assessment instruments, and information about standards. A map of the full Web site is located at The CoBaLTT Web-based Resource Center is intended to serve as an integral part of the professional development program as well as a stand-alone learning resource for language teachers everywhere.

The following Web pages provide more information about specific aspects of the CoBaLTT program and resource center.

CoBaLTT Program Information

History of the CoBaLTT program:

CoBaLTT professional development program:

CoBaLTT Web Resource Center

CoBaLTT WebQuest (links to the online resources used for technology learning sessions):

Lesson Plan Database (lesson plans developed by CoBaLTT participants):

CBI bibliography database (annotated list of resources for content-based language instruction):


Brinton, D., Snow, M. A., & Wesche, M. B. (1989). Content-based second language instruction. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.

National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1996). Standards for foreign language learning: Preparing for the 21st century. Yonkers, NY: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Snow, M. A., Met, M., & Genesee, F. (1989). A conceptual framework for the integration of language and content in second/foreign language instruction. TESOL Quarterly, 23 (2), 201-217.

Tedick, D. J., & Walker, C. L. (1994). Second language teacher education: The problems that plague us. Modern Language Journal, 78 (3), 300-312.


Journal Review

In each issue of ERIC/CLL Language Link, we feature one or more of the journals that we abstract and index for Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE), the ERIC database's monthly index to education-related journals. In this issue, we profile Language Testing.

Language Learning and Technology

Language Learning & Technology (ISSN 1094-3501) seeks to disseminate research to foreign and second language educators on issues related to technology and language education. LLT is a fully-refereed journal with an editorial board of scholars in the fields of second language acquisition and computer-assisted language learning. The focus of the publication is not technology per se, but rather issues related to language learning and language teaching, and how they are affected or enhanced by the use of technologies.

This journal is published on the Web three times per year (January, May, and September) at Regular features include the column "On the Net" and book and software reviews. The January 2001 issue offers the following articles: "Giving a Virtual Voice to the Silent Language of Culture: The Cultura Project," "Exchanging Ideas with Peers in Network-Based Classrooms: An Aid or a Pain?," "E-mail and Word Processing in the ESL Classroom: How the Medium Affects the Message," "Can Software Support Children's Vocabulary Development?," and "The Effect of Multimedia Annotation Modes on L2 Vocabulary Acquisition: A Comparative Study." To obtain a free subscription, visit

Search online for articles from this and other journals included in Current Index to Journals in Education at

You can recognize journal abstracts in the ERIC database by their "EJ" prefix followed by a six-digit number. ERIC abstracts can be read at ERIC centers in libraries in the United States and overseas, as well as on the Web.

Subscriptions to the journals can be obtained from the publishers; individual articles from many journals are available through the following reprint services:

You may also wish to contact your local university or research library.



News from ERIC/CLL

An article by ERIC/CLL Director Joy Kreeft Peyton entitled "Poems in the Classroom" appeared in the January/February 2001 issue of American Language Review. The article suggests ways to use poetry to enrich adult English classes. The magazine may be ordered at the American Language Review Web site at .

The Winter 2000-2001 issue of the "ERIC/CLL News Bulletin" is available at This issue includes two articles: (1) High School Immersion in the United States: A Research Study and (2) Foreign Language Assessment: 30 Years of Evolution and Change.

Our latest ERIC Digest,"Examining Latino Paraeducators­ Interactions With Latino Students" can be read at Print copies of these and other publications may be obtained from ERIC/CLL at 1-800-276-9834 or .


News from the National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE)

NCLE is now the National Center for ESL Literacy Education. This change from Clearinghouse to Center reflects the range of services NCLE provides, including technical assistance to programs; professional development of program staff; the writing and producing of books, reports, and papers; and the development of on-line resource collections on a number of key topics. NCLE will continue to engage in information analysis and synthesis, question answering, and collection of documents related to adult ESL for the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) database.

In February, NCLE hosted a panel event entitled "Adult ESL Practice in the New Millennium." Ron Pugsley, Director of the Division of Adult Education and Literacy, Office of Vocational Education, U.S. Department of Education, gave a national context for this topic. Expert panelists spoke about integrating civics content with language development, assesssing learning disabilities in English language learners, classroom practices with beginning level learners, immigrants in the workforce, and professional development for adult ESL educators. Papers from this event will be on NCLE's Web site at in April 2001.

NCLE's latest Q&A is Dialogue Journals: Interactive Writing to Promote Language and Literacy Development by Joy Peyton. Order a print copy free of charge from NCLE (202/362-0700, ext. 200 or

NCLE staff are available to answer your questions at or 202-362-0700, extension 200.


News from ERIC and the U.S. Department of Education

Headlines and reports about education initiatives are continually added and updated at the U.S. Department of Education Web site. To make navigating the site as productive as possible, a slide show entitled An Orientation to the U.S. Department of Education's Web Site is now available.

ACCESS ERIC, the promotion and outreach component of the ERIC system, recently published the 2001 edition of All About ERIC, a basic introduction to ERIC's publications, products, and services. All About ERIC can be viewed and downloaded on the ACCESS ERIC Web site at To obtain a free copy, call ACCESS ERIC at 1-800-LET-ERIC (538-3742).

The ERIC systemwide Web site at has been redesigned and updated. The site includes home page links to all ERIC Clearinghouses, a streamlined "Search ERIC Database" page, and tabs to improve navigability. In addition, the home page now features a "New From ERIC" section on the home page.

The ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education has added new sections for administrators, faculty, parents, and students to its Web site at The new sections include links to publications, associations, and listservs.

ERIC clearinghouses offer many new publications, including the titles below.

ERIC Clearinghouse on Community Colleges: Adult Women in Community Colleges and Minority Student Retention and Success in Community Colleges at Reprints of articles including "Assessing Minority Student Performance," and "Using Technology To Facilitate Learning for Minority Students" are now available from the Clearinghouse by calling 1-800-832-8256.

ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education: The Technical, Cultural, and Political Factors in College Preparation Programs for Urban and Minority Youth This and other digests can be viewed and downloaded at

ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education: Contextual Learning in Adult Education at and Adult Development: An Update at

The items above appeared in ERICNews, an electronic newsletter from ACCESS ERIC. To subscribe, send the command SUBSCRIBE ERICNEWS FIRSTNAME LASTNAME to


News from Our Colleagues

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages invites applications and nominations for its Executive Director. Nominations and applications should be submitted to Search Committee, ACTFL Headquarters, 6 Executive Plaza, Yonkers, New York 10701-6801. Applicants should include a detailed letter describing their experience and qualifications as they relate to the position, a current Curriculum Vitae, and names and contact information for 3 professional references. Review of applications will begin March 1, 2001 and continue until the position is filled.

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) offers a new monthly subscription service at News about publications, services, and projects is available by sending a blank email message to  Also from CAL is announcement of the Second National Conference on Heritage Languages in America, to be held in Washington, D.C. in February 2002, hosted by CAL and the National Foreign Language Center. Participants will have opportunities to meet with special interest constituencies based on instructional settings, language, and other common concerns. The call for poster session proposals will be made in April 2001. Information about the conference will be disseminated on a regular basis through the heritage languages listserv, heritage-list. Individuals wishing to subscribe to that list should contact Scott McGinnis at the National Foreign Language Center (e-mail; phone 202-637-8881 x28; fax 202-637-9244).

The Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) has published Research Brief No. 8 (December 2000), Linking Home and School Through Children's Questions That Followed Family Science Workshops by Maureen Callanan, Consuelo Alba-Speyer, & Harriet Tenenbaum, University of California, Santa Cruz. This brief describes preliminary findings from a research project that assesses the usefulness of children's questions for teachers as they design a science curriculum to fit the needs of these children. It discusses what children's questions can reveal about their thought processes and how linking home conversations with classroom practices are beneficial to all involved.

The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) has published Language and Learning, the transcript of proceedings of a May 8, 2000 congressional briefing about the role of language in education. Lily Wong Fillmore, Maria Estela Brisk, William Labov, Donna Christian, and John Baugh participated. Order the transcript from COSSA at 202-842-3525 or Ordering information is also available on the Web at

The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development Immigrant Experience Summer Institute 2001 invites submissions for a Manual of Multicultural Projects and Plans for Diverse Classrooms. To submit a lesson plan, a classroom activity, project, or teacher training activity, contact Jane Shore at

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has released standards for teachers of world languages. World Languages Other than English Standards is the latest addition to the National Board­s core set of standards and propositions that describe what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do. An overview of the standards is available at .

The National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education offers a number of new publications including a new monthly newsletter, NCBE Outlook; Going Schoolwide: Comprehensive School Reform Inclusive of Limited English Proficient Students: A Resource Guide; Issue Brief No. 8: Why Migrant Education Matters; and User's Guide to the NCBE Resource Collection. Other publications, federal announcements, and funding opportunities are also provided at NCBE­s Web site.


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