This Open Educational Resource (OER) text is intended for both pre-service and practicing teachers who are interested in gaining professional knowledge about language teaching methodologies, strategies, and program options in K-12 settings. The OER text may be used as an academic resource text for language education courses and academic programs, or as a self-study text for educators who want to become more informed about language teaching methods and practices.
Each learning module is user-friendly and engaging. Modules contain bright visuals and charts, as well as links to video clips and resource sites that will help teachers to extend knowledge about language learning beyond the pages of this OER text.
A brief overview of past methodologies sets the foundation for further exploration of teaching methods and strategies used in language programs today. Links to video resources and references to additional sources of information offer opportunities for teachers to explore other aspects of language education.
Key terms introduced in each module appear in bold dark red font. Definitions of the terms are available in a glossary at the end of each module and in a cumulative glossary at the end of the online text.
Modules One and Two present an overview of approaches and methodologies from past decades that have influenced present day approaches to language education. The modules highlight the work of three notable researchers: Lev Vygotsky, Stephen Krashen, and Jim Cummins. Each researcher has influenced language learning by challenging myths and transforming views about the cognitive processes involved in learning a new language.
Module Three examines the relationship of program models, proficiency levels, and factors such as place, purpose, and time on language learning success in K-12 settings. Three Canadian program models are presented to illustrate the impact of these factors. The benefits of using an international language reference scale are explained. The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for languages allows for objective assessment of language progress regardless of country, culture, or language, using descriptors that are learner-centred and purposeful.
Module Four describes an approach to program planning known as ‘backward design’. To support the planning process, the module outlines steps for initial assessment, followed by an in-depth look at instruction and assessment that integrates language learning with subject area learning. The success of this approach, known as Integrated Language and Content Instruction (ILCI), is dependent on the development of language objectives that correspond with content objectives drawn from the K-12 school curriculum.
Modules Five and Six focus on the four skill areas of Listening, Speaking (combined with Interaction), Reading and Writing, sometimes identified as SWRL or SWIRL. The modules explain each skill using illustrative examples and descriptors linked to the CEFR framework provided in Appendix B of the document. These modules also present language learning strategies that are considered ‘best practices’ for vocabulary-building within the four skill areas.
Module Seven outlines practical ways to differentiate instruction for language learners. For differentiation to be effective, teachers are encouraged to asssemble learner profiles (or portfolios) at the start of the year. The profile contains a snapshot of each student’s initial language skills, as well as samples of ongoing language tasks gathered throughout the year to illustrate progress. Factors that can affect language progress, such as individual learning styles, language delays and learning challenges, are discussed briefly.
Module Eight, the final module in the text, promotes an inclusive approach to classroom instruction known as Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT). Students in language learning programs often have diverse first languages, cultural identities, and background experiences. CRT promotes the notion that all students should have an equal voice in the classroom; their cultural identities, languages, and lived experiences can enrich the school curriculum.
An Appendix at the end of the online text contains two PDF charts created by the author of this resource to promote understanding of the stages of the language learning process. These charts are adaptations of the Cummins’ Quadrants Model and the CEFR scale of language levels (‘can-do’ skill descriptors).