Teaching Language Through Other Disciplines: A Proficiency-Centered Approach

National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL) Annual Conference
Madison, WI
April 28, 2007


Participants in this workshop will learn about the principles of teaching language through other disciplines (an approach also known as "content-based instruction") in the context of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The workshop will be highly interactive: participants will analyze examples of learning tasks and will develop and critique sample learning tasks for listening, reading, speaking, and writing on different proficiency levels.

Benjamin Rifkin will lead this workshop. Benjamin Rifkin (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is Professor of Russian and Vice Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University (Philadelphia). An ACTFL-Certified Oral Proficiency Interview Trainer in Russian, Rifkin is the author or co-author of two Russian-language textbooks including Advanced Russian through History, published in 2006 by Yale University Press. He was also the director of the RAILS (Russian Advanced Interactive Listening Series) Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a content-based language learning initiative. He has published on second language acquisition, applied linguistics, foreign language education, and Russian literature and film in The ADFL Bulletin, Foreign Language Annals, Language Learning, Modern Language Journal, and The Slavic and East European Journal. Rifkin edited a volume on the mentoring of foreign language teachers and another volume, with Olga Kagan and Susan Bauckus, on the learning and teaching of Slavic languages and cultures. The latter was the award for best new book in the area of pedagogy from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic & East European Languages (AATSEEL). Rifkin is a past president of AATSEEL and continues to serve on the board of directors of the American Council of Teachers of Russian. His most recent publications include the textbook, Advanced Russian through History, and a chapter in the 2007 Volume of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages entitled "Attending to Learner Diversity in the Lesson Plan: Planning for Intensity of Engagement".


Saturday, April 28

8:45CBI Theory and Integration with Proficiency Guidelines
9:30Examples of CBI
10:20Reading Text(s) in one or more South Asian Languages
10:25Discussion of Salient Features of Reading Text(s), Articulation of Appropriate Learning Objectives at Different Levels
10:45Groups Develop Lesson Plans
11:15Presentation and Critique of Group Work
12:00Lunch Break (lunch brought in) with assigned conversation topic: Problems and Solutions in Developing and Implementing Strategies for Teaching South Asian Languages through Other Disciplines
12:45Presentation of Viewing Text
1:00Discussion of Salient Features of Viewing Text, Articulation of Appropriate Learning Objectives at Different Levels
1:20Groups Develop Lesson Plans
2:00Presentation and Critique of Group Work (with coffee and tea)
2:30Final thoughts and questions
2:45Evaluation of Workshop
3:00Participants rejoin NCOLCTL

Reading List

Before the workshop, please read and explore:

  • ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines
  • The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota has compiled a good bibliography on research on teaching language through other disciplines (sometimes called "Content-Based Instruction"). This bibliography may be accessed on-line here. Select "CBI" from the dropdown menu to access the bibliography.

Slide Show

The workshop slide show can be viewed here: PDF.

List of Participants

The participants at this workshop included:

Aftab Ahmad, University of California, Berkeley
Haimanti Banerjee, University of Pennsylvania
Sanjukta Banerjee, University of Pennsylvania
Erlin Barnard, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Griffith Chaussee, University of Virginia
Pinderjeet Gill, University of Michigan
Katherine Good, Cornell University
Sungok Hong, Indiana University
Gabriela Ilieva, New York University
Qamar Jalil, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Vimaladevi Katikaneni, University of Chicago
Jampa Khedup, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Seema Khurana, Yale University
Gyanam Mahajan, University of California, Los Angeles
Tahira Naqvi, New York University
Mekhala Natavar, Princeton University
Steven Poulos, South Asia Language Resource Center
Sean Pue, South Asia Language Resource Center
Brajesh Samarth, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Gibb Schreffler, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jishnu Shankar, Syracuse University
Kashika Singh, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Babubhai Suthar, University of Pennsylvania
Arlie Tagayuna, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Bahadur Thapa, Swati Sadan Secondary School