|Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)|
Another key instructional strategy to support CBI is to incorporate learning strategy training into instruction (Chamot & O'Malley, 1994; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990; Stoller, 2002). Learning strategies are defined as thoughts or activities that assist in enhancing learning and student performance (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986, as cited in Chamot & O'Malley, 1994).
The basic idea is that students will learn content and language (particularly the more sophisticated language needed for academic tasks) more effectively by using learning strategies (Chamot & O'Malley, 1994). There is a large body of research that supports using learning strategies to support CBI (for reviews see Chamot & O'Malley, 1994; Grabe & Stoller, 1997; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990).
Chamot and O'Malley (1994, p. 60) contend that learning strategies are important because
Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary, and Robbins (1999) suggest that all learning strategies reflect underlying metacognitive processes including planning, monitoring, problem-solving, and evaluating. Planning strategies help learners develop and use forethought. These include strategies such as setting goals, directed attention, activating prior knowledge, predicting, organizational planning and self-management. Monitoring strategies encourage learners to measure how effective they are while working on a particular task. Examples of monitoring strategies are selective attention, self-questioning (e.g., does it make sense?), personalizing, taking notes, using imagery, and self-talk. Problem-solving strategies are those that provide assistance when a student is having difficulty during a task. They include inferencing, substituting, asking questions to clarify, and using resources. Finally, evaluating strategies encourage reflection on how well a learning task went. Examples of evaluating strategies are verifying predictions, summarizing, checking goals, and evaluating self and strategy use. Additional strategies, such as imagining with keywords, grouping/classifying, and transfer or use of cognates, help students remember vocabulary and other information.
All of the CoBaLTT units include lesson-specific objectives related to learning strategies and skills development. By identifying specific learning strategy objectives, teachers become keenly aware of and attentive to the need to incorporate practice with learning strategies in the context of the lesson. Younger learners will need explicit instruction with particular learning strategies [see “How to teach learning strategies” and sample lesson in Chamot (2001) for tips on the explicit instruction of learning strategies]. Some older learners (upper elementary level and beyond) may also benefit from overt reminders of the need to use specific learning strategies to carry out a task. It is important not to assume that all learners will automatically engage particular learning strategies when needed.
Specific learning strategies are helpful for learning particular subject matter areas. Chamot and O'Malley (1994) provide a number of tables that identify strategies for specific content areas and offer guidelines for designing learning strategy lessons and for teaching learning strategies. These tables (listed below with links to PDF documents) are posted on the CoBaLTT website with the permission of the publisher.
Immersion teachers will benefit from using the Elementary Immersion Learning Strategies Resource Guide. This free, interactive website is an online version of Elementary Immersion Learning Strategies Resource Guide published by the National Capital Language Resource Center. Users can follow the guide sequentially, skip to topics of interest, or jump directly to printable resources like lesson plans, charts, and worksheets. Topics covered include: definitions, descriptions, and examples of language learning strategies, teaching students to think about learning, teaching learning strategies using the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA), and selecting strategies to introduce to students in language and content areas at each grade level. The site also provides sample lessons for a variety of grade levels, languages, and subject areas, and a review of the literature on language learning strategies instruction. The appendices contain further resources for teachers: an annotated list of stories to help teach learning strategies, a model for developing a learning strategies lesson, and learning strategies lists and definitions in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
Immersion teachers may also like to read “Teaching
Learning Strategies in Immersion Classrooms” by Chamot (2001).
It includes a learning strategies lesson plan designed
for a second grade science class.
Chamot, A. U. (2001). Teaching learning strategies in immersion classrooms. The ACIE Newsletter, 5(1), 1-8 (Bridge insert). [Online] at http://www.carla.umn.edu/immersion/acie/vol5/Nov2001.pdf
Chamot, A.U., & O'Malley, J.M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Chamot, A.U., Barnhardt, S., El-Dinary, P.B., & Robbins, J. (1999). The learning strategies handbook. White Plains, NY: Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Company.
Grabe, W., & Stoller, F.L. (1997). Content-based instruction: Research foundations. In Snow, M.A. & Brinton, D.M. (eds.). The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content (pp. 5-21). NY: Addison Wesley Longman Publishing Company. [also online at CoBaLTT website]
O'Malley, J. M. & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. NY: Cambridge University Press.
Stoller, F. (2002, March). Content-Based Instruction: A Shell for Language Teaching or a Framework for Strategic Language and Content Learning? Keynote presented at the annual meeting of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Salt Lake City . [online at CoBaLTT website]
Weinstein, C. E., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). The teaching of learning strategies. In M.C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 315-327). NY: Macmillan.