Research Perspectives on Integrating Language and Content

18th February 2020 : 13:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Roy Lyster, McGill University, Montréal, Canada.

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room G/H

Convener: Hamish Chalmers

Audience: Public

Seminar Abstract


School-based additive bilingual programs cross an increasingly wide range of international contexts and instructional settings, coming in many shapes and sizes with various names including content and language integrated learning (CLIL), content-based instruction (CBI), content-based language teaching (CBLT), dual language education, and immersion. One of the most attractive features of these programs from a learning perspective is their increased exposure to and engagement with the second language, which provides a motivational basis for purposeful communication and a cognitive basis for language learning. Often overlooked, however, is the research evidence demonstrating that, for content-based programs to be effective, they need to systematically integrate a focus on language through a counterbalanced approach that encourages shifts in learners’ attentional focus between language and content.

Drawing on a program of instructed SLA research, this talk will illustrate the feasibility of counterbalanced instruction and its positive effects on students’ second language development. A proactive approach to counterbalanced instruction will first be illustrated through the CAPA model (i.e., Contextualization, Awareness, Practice, Autonomy), which serves as a blueprint for designing instructional sequences that enable students to link form with meaning in contexts related to content, while honing their metalinguistic awareness and engaging in purposeful use of the target language, ranging from contextualized practice to more autonomous use. A reactive approach to counterbalanced instruction will also be addressed to highlight the instrumental role of scaffolding as a means to support students’ active engagement with respect to both comprehension and production in a language they are still learning.


About the Speaker


Roy Lyster is Professor Emeritus of Second Language Education at McGill University. His research examines content-based second language instruction and the effects of instructional interventions designed to counterbalance form-focused and content-based approaches. His research interests also include professional development and collaboration among teachers for the purpose of integrated language learning and biliteracy development. He was co-recipient with colleague Leila Ranta of the 1998 Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education and was presented the Robert Roy Award by the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers in 2017. He was co-president then president of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics from 2004 to 2008. He is author of a module called Content-Based Language Teaching published by Routledge in 2018, and three books: Learning and Teaching Languages Through Content published by Benjamins in 2007, Vers une approche intégrée en immersion published by CEC Publishing in 2016, and Scaffolding language development in immersion and dual language classrooms (with D. J. Tedick) published by Routledge in 2020.