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Academic Writing in Content-Based Language Teaching Through Technology (CoBaLTT). Tetsuo Harada School of Education Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan [email protected] This PPT file is available on the Internet: Collaborator. Kyoko Sato

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Academic writing in content based language teaching through technology cobaltt

Academic Writingin Content-Based Language Teaching Through Technology (CoBaLTT)

Tetsuo HaradaSchool of EducationWaseda University, Tokyo, [email protected]

This PPT file is available on the Internet:


Kyoko Sato

University of California

San Diego

Outline of the talk
Outline of the talk

  • Purposes

  • Overview of CBI and Technology (BBS)

  • Overview of the EFL Course: Content-based academic writing through technology

  • Research Questions

  • Online Language Exchange and Writing Skills

  • Student’s Perceptions about CBI and BBS

  • Discussion and Conclusion


  • Integration of language and content in an EFL academic writing course through technology

  • Effects of online language exchange on writing skills

  • Students’ perceptions about CBI and online language exchange

Definition of cbi
Definition of CBI

  • Content-based second language instruction (CBI) can be traced back to immersion programs in Canada in the 1960’s.

  • In Europe, CBI is also referred to as content and language integrated learning (CLIL).

Definition of cbi cont d
Definition of CBI, cont’d

  • Wesche (1993, 57) defines CBI as follows:

    Content-based language teaching is distinguished first of all by the concurrent learning of a specific content and related language use skills in a “content-driven” curriculum, i.e., with the selection and sequencing of language elements determined by the content.

Types of cbi
Types of CBI

(Brinton, 2003; Brinton, Snow and Wesche, 1989; Wesche, 1993)

Types of cbi cont d
Types of CBI, cont’d

  • Theme-based instruction

    The language course is organized around a series of topics and themes from available authentic materials, on which language activities are based.

Types of cbi cont d1
Types of CBI, cont’d

  • Sustained-content language teaching:

    SCLT, similar to theme-based instruction, focuses on a single content area or topic as well as L2 learning and teaching. The content is “sustained” during a whole course, which allows students to work with only one topic and more deeply engage the content (Pally, 2000; Murphy and Stoller, 2001).

Rationales for cbi
Rationales for CBI

Grabe and Stoller (1997)

  • Second language acquisition research

  • Training studies (e.g., cooperative learning, learning strategy instruction, extensive reading)

  • Educational and cognitive psychology (e.g., cognitive learning theory, depth-of-processing research, discourse comprehension processing research, motivation research, expertise research)

  • Program outcomes (e.g., ESL and EFL contexts)

Overview of the course
Overview of the Course

Content-based academic writing

  • An EFL academic writing course at a university level

  • Met once a week and thirty times a year (90 minutes X 30 sessions)

  • Sustained-content language teaching, in which a theme of education in the U.S. was discussed during the full-year course.

Overview of the course cont d
Overview of the Course, cont’d

Integration of SCLT with Technology

  • A Bulletin Board System (BBS) is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and login to the system.

  • BBS allows for asynchronous online discussion.

    • Login

    • Front Page

    • Sample BBS

Overview of the course cont d1
Overview of the Course, cont’d

BBS: Asynchronous online language exchange

  • 30 intermediate Japanese learners of English (EFL) were paired with English-speaking learners of Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) at a university in the United States.

  • Both groups were required to login to the BBS site and write messages in their target language.

Overview of the course cont d2
Overview of the Course, cont’d

BBS: Asynchronous online language exchange

  • The EFL group watched a documentary on education in the U.S. and posted their questions, impressions, and issues raised in the video on the BBS site in English.

  • The JFL group replied to the EFL learners’ messages in Japanese.

Research questions
Research Questions

  • To what extent does online language exchange (BBS) affect the EFL learners’ writing skills?

  • How do the perceptions about SCLT and BBS vary according to the self-assessment of their writing skills?


  • Participants

    30 intermediate Japanese learners of English as a foreign language (EFL)

  • Analysis of Writing Skills

    • All the English messages posted on the BBS site were analyzed.

    • Sentence complexity was measured with T-units.

Method cont d
Method, cont’d

  • Analysis of Writing Skills, cont’d

    • A T-unit is one main clause with all subordinate clauses attached to it (Hunt, 1965).

    • Example

      • I like the movie. (1 T-unit with 4 words)

      • I like the movie we saw about Shakespeare. (1 T-unit with 8 words)

Method cont d1
Method, cont’d

  • Analysis of Writing Skills, cont’d

    • T-unit length indicates sentence complexity. The second example is grammatically more complex than the first one.

    • Mean T-unit lengths for a spring semester and the following fall semester were compared.

Method cont d2

Analysis of Perceptions about SCLT and BBS


Self-assessment of writing skills

Perceptions about SCLT and BBS

The individual responses (i.e., 5-likert type scale) were assigned numbers 1-5: 1 for “strongly disagree” and 5 for “strongly agree.”

Method, cont’d

Method cont d3

Analysis of Perceptions about SCLT and BBS

The 30 participants were divided into three subgroups (the upper, mid, and lower levels) by the self-assessment of their writing skills.

Method, cont’d


Sentence Complexity

t = 4.941, df = 29, p = .000

Results cont d
Results, cont’d

Positive Perceptions about SCLT

  • 22 students (71%) responded that it was useful to link writing instruction with the content.

  • 24 students (77%) responded that they learned much about the content covered in class.

Results cont d1
Results, cont’d

Negative Perceptions about BBS

  • Only 3 students (10%) responded positively about BBS discussions with university students in the U.S.

  • Only 8 students (25%) actively participated in the BBS discussion.

  • Only 2 students (6%) responded that their partners actively replied to their messages.

Results cont d2
Results, cont’d

Perceptions of SCLT and BBS According to the Self-Assessment of Writing Skills

SCLT: F(2, 26) = 5.911, p = .008, BBS: F(2, 26) = .476, p = .627

* p < .05

Discussion and conclusion
Discussion and Conclusion

Sustained-content language teaching

  • The integration of content with the curriculum for academic writing skills during the whole year-long course (SCLT) was fairly accepted by the intermediate (high and mid) university students.

Discussion and conclusion cont d
Discussion and Conclusion, cont’d

Sustained-content language teaching

  • Students with poor writing skills have negative attitudes toward SCLT. This finding may suggest that the successful implementation of SCLT as opposed to theme-based instruction depends on students’ proficiency level of a target language.

Discussion and conclusion cont d1
Discussion and Conclusion, cont’d

Effects of BBS on writing skills

  • The mean T-unit lengths significantly differed between the two semesters. However, the difference, which was slight, may not be meaningful. In other words, we cannot conclude that the online language exchange helped the students improve their writing skills.

Discussion and conclusion cont d2
Discussion and Conclusion, cont’d

Students’ perceptions about BBS

  • Although technology is innovative in foreign language teaching, the students did not show any positive perceptions about the use of BBS in the SCLT classroom.

    • Language exchange may not have worked well.

    • Low participation of the partners

    • Problems with the students’ motivation

Discussion and conclusion cont d3
Discussion and Conclusion, cont’d


  • Teachers should not be too optimistic about the integration of technology into the foreign language curriculum.


Brinton, D. (2003). Content-based instruction. In Nunan, D. (Ed.), Practical English language teaching (pp. 199-224). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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

Grabe, W. & Stoller, F. L. (1997). Content-based instruction: Research foundations. In M. Snow & D. Brinton (Eds.), The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Hunt, K. (1965). Grammatical structures written at three grade levels. NCTE Research report No. 3. Champaign, IL, USA: NCTE.

Murphy, J. M. & Stoller, F. L. (2001). Sustained content language teaching: An emerging definition. TESOL Journal 10 (2/3).

Pally, M. (Ed.). (2000). Sustained-content teaching in academic ESL/EFL. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Wesche, M. B. (1993). Discipline-based approaches to language study: Research issues and outcomes. In M. Krueger & F. Ryan (Eds.), Language and content: Discipline- and content-based approaches to language study (pp. 57-82). Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath.