Content based ESL instruction and curriculum


This article discusses necessary paradigm changes in English as a second language (ESL) education from anersan oral English proficiency orientation to an academic English proficiency orientation. English learners face difficult challenges when asked to perform academic tasks in their less developed language. Content-based ESL instruction, which integrates language instruction with content areas, can meet both the linguistic and academic needs of English learners. Thus, content-based ESL instruction offers a more meaningful path to academic language acquisition. The article presents theoretical, pedagogical, and empirical reasons why content-based instruction is more beneficial for English learners.

Brown, Clara Lee

Follow link here for the article.

How Gender Aware is the FIS?

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Learning by Design conference at the International School of Brussels.  Two sessions were dedicated to the topic of gender awareness, which was ideal because next school year (2017-18), Michelle Ang, Susan Min, and I plan to develop a forum dedicated to the topic of gender awareness!  This is in line with the FIS strategic plan and our aim of placing student well-being at the forefront of our work.  All teachers interested in joining are more than welcome!   

This blog post is therefore dedicated to bringing some key details that can help everyone to learn about the unique insight Steven De Baerdemaeker, the conference speaker, brings to a wide array of schools including ISB.  


To begin, Steven discussed the extent to which scientific studies focus on gender differences (white areas) in comparison to similarities (shaded areas): 

Image result for male female bell shaped curve


As a result, our understanding of students can often rely on stereotypes:



And as teachers know, the brain is plastic and malleable:




Given the following statistical data, we have a responsibility to our students to increase the inclusivity of our curriculum:

  • Gender constancy, the understanding of gender as permanent, is 80% fixed in children by the age of 5-6
  •  For every negative interaction a teacher has with a girl, a teacher gets into twice as many negative interactions with boys
  • When children’s studies on gender roles from the 60s and 70s are replicated today, the results from back then are exactly the same:
  • Gender stereotyping creates a self-image that leads many individuals to make poor career choices, as well as leads to shortages in a number of occupations







So, what does this have to do with language?  Well, a lot of stereotyping begins with how we talk to and about each other, and as Freire suggested, how we name the world (1972).  Steven suggests that in order to break these patterns, our curriculum should be representative and inclusive (i.e. rather than including “women’s studies” sections in units- which reinforce the idea of otherness- include diversity throughout every unit):




He provided some resource links (originally in Dutch) for preschool, primary, and secondary educators:





More on Steven:

More on consulting group:

Thanks for reading!




Learn English with the News

Easy-to-read weekly news stories to support ESL learners to read, write, and speak English. Click here for more info.



Teaching for Success online conference


The British Council's first online CPD conference for teachers. You can register for the conference by visiting

British Council PD















Effective strategies for teaching science vocabulary

In order for students to develop scientific literacy, they need to gain a knowledge of science content Mrs Richardand practice scientific habits of mind. This is impossible without knowledge of science vocabulary. This article shares research-based strategies for science vocabulary instruction that are effective for all students, including English language learners.


Click here for the full article


Five tips for getting the ESL student talking


Photo credit: phploveme via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I wanted to talk to someone. But who? It's moments like this, when you need someone the most, that your world seems smallest. -- Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

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How to teach current events to ESL students

Current affairs are a great source for speaking and reading tasks. Follow follow link here for excellent tips on how to teach current events to ESL students.

current affairs 

Top 25 ESL blogs for teachers and students

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Differences in American and British English grammar

Click here for an article by Kerry Maxwell and Lindsay Clandfield on recognizing grammatical differences between American and British English.