Language Objectives: The Key to Effective Content Area Instruction for English Learners

From the website: "In this article written for ColorĂ­n Colorado, Jennifer Himmel of the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) provides an overview of how to use language objectives in content-area instruction for English learners. Her overview includes:

  • what a language objective is
  • steps that teachers can take to create language objectives
  • how to implement language objectives in a general education classroom
  • how to align objectives to content and language standards
  • ideas and resources on how to support teachers as they become familiar with this practice."
Content Comments 

Language objectives articulate the academic language functions and skills that English learners (EL) need to fully participate in the lesson and meet grade-level content standards. They involve the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and they can also include language functions (e.g., justify, explain), vocabulary essential for students to fully participate in the lesson, and language learning strategies to aid in comprehension (e.g., questioning, predicting). Quality language objectives, as the author states, "complement the content knowledge and skills identified in content area standards and address the aspects of academic language that will be developed or reinforced during the teaching of grade-level content concepts." Moreover, the idea of language objectives fits in with concepts found in formative assessment. The article - with its definition, examples, and guidance in creating language objectives - is very useful in helping teachers incorporate language objectives into their lesson plans. This article is written for any teacher of EL students, but in particular, targets general education and secondary content-area teachers (for example, math and science) who may not have as much experience in teaching academic language development.