Experimenting With Academic ESL: An ESL/Sociology Link

  •  Gail August    


To improve academic ESL, a community college has been experimenting with linking an ESL class to a Sociology class. The primary goal was to use the methodology of Content Based Instruction to develop a curriculum that would promote academic vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking, and authentic communication in a sheltered environment. The paradigm of Action Research was used as a framework to reflect on the strengths of the program and to identify activities that engaged the students and contributed to improved language skills. Supplementary assignments of a Young Adult novel and provocative movies, used across both the ESL and Sociology class, helped students to apply abstract concepts to familiar situations. The structure of the link produced an effective learning community and a support system for the students. We suggest that linking ESL to a content course might be preferable to other options for developmental ESL students entering college.

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