Enhancing Beginning Language Courses Through Content-Enriched Instruction


  • Terry L. Ballman

    1. University of Northern Colorado
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      Terry L. Ballman (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin) is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.


ABSTRACT  In the traditional foreign language curriculum, content-based instruction (CBI) is postponed until at least the second year of study when, it is perceived, learners have the necessary linguistic repertoire with which to begin to deal with content. The author's analysis of 12 first-year college-level Spanish textbooks reveals that, in general, little cultural or real-world information is provided to beginning learners. The purpose of this paper is to describe a variation of CBI for beginning-level language learners called content-enriched instruction (CEI). In CEIan emphasis is placed on cultural and real-world information. Vocabulary, grammar, and content are integrated to reflect a specific theme or converge to represent a specific topic. Learners use Spanish to acquire new information and to relate new content knowledge to their own lives. All new information is designed to meet appropriate linguistic, cognitive, and affective needs of the learner. To illustrate the uses and benefits of CEI, the author describes a unit lesson plan for six class periods and offers suggestions on how to implement CEI.