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Life in the time of the

Roman Empire:

Exploiting a short story in TBLT-CLIL

David C. Hall & Teresa Navés





APAC 2011. Barcelona. UPF



I strongly disagree--- I strongly agree

1. Reading is an essential part of language


at every level because it supports

learning in multiple ways.

2. Reading material is language input.

By giving

students a variety of materials to read,

instructors provide multiple opportunities for

students to absorb vocabulary, grammar,

sentence structure, and discourse structure as

they occur in authentic contexts

I strongly disagree--- I strongly agree

3. Reading for content information

in the

language classroom gives students both

authentic reading material and an authentic

purpose for reading.

4. Reading authentic / everyday materials


are designed for native speakers can give

students insight into the lifestyles and

worldviews of the people whose language

they are studying

I strongly disagree--- I strongly agree

5. We are usually

more interested in what we

are going to read if we already have an idea

of what the text is going to be about

6. In our mother-tongue we do not read unless

we have a reason for doing so

. This reason


I strongly disagree--- I strongly agree

7. It is not necessary

(nor even desirable!) that


learner understands all the language

presented in the reading text.

8. Post-reading activities help readers to focus

on the meaning

not on the grammatical or

lexical aspects of the text.

9. Post-reading tasks can be conducted in

learners’ mother tongue.

10. Pre-reading tasks are the most common

tasks teachers use to help learners


more effectively.

Roman Times in Catalonia

Eaude, Michael. (2007).

Chapter 2: Tarraco in


: A cultural

history. Oxford: Signal



Eaude (2007) Chpt 2: Tarraco

… Catalonia had no independent existence in Roman times. It was a province of Rome, as later after 1714 and then under Franco, it was to be a province of Madrid. But the pleasure of many Catalans in a Roman history, in being part of Europe’s greatest Empire, is that Madrid did not exist then. Today’s state capital was just a wind-swept steppe. Catalonia’s Roman history underlines how it is so much closer to the Mediterranean - to the ‘centre of the earth’, the heart of Western civilization – and how its people are mixed. Carthaginians, Romans, Celtiberians, Greeks... even 2,000 years ago these had all passed through. Such thoughts of greater depth and fuller history do not help you eat, but have been comforting to Catalan nationalists in long decades of being dominated by the Spanish state’s power

Underlying principles

Schema theory


Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

Task-based Learning and Teaching (TBLT)

Content-based instruction (CBI) &

Content and Language Integrated

Learning (CLIL)

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

Pre-reading tasks

Schema theory

research provides strong

evidence for the effectiveness of


tasks (Chastain, 1988).

Pre-reading tasks

motivate readers to read

the text

Pre-reading tasks help learners

complete the

task better

Activating readers’ prior knowledge of a

topic before they begin to read help learners’


(Carrell and Eisterhold 1983;

Grabe 1991; Ur 1996)

Pre-reading tasks by Williams (1984)



stimulate interest

in the text. Research shows that

when we are asked to predict what is going to happen

in a text this facilitates our comprehension when we

actually read it.


To give a reason for reading

. None of us read in a

vacuum and learners also need a reason to read if

they are to be genuinely motivated. One of the ways

in which a pre-reading activity can provide a "reason

to read" is by getting learners to set their own

questions according to their own interest in the text).

Another way could be to create an "information gap"

activity where students have different information

and have to read and Exchange information to

complete a task.


Sample pre-reading tasks:

1. Using the title, subtitles, and divisionswithin the text to predict content and organization or sequence of information 2. Looking at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs and their


3. Talking about the author's background, writing style, and usual topics

4. Skimming to find the themeor main idea and eliciting related prior knowledge

5. Reviewing vocabularyor grammatical structures

6. Reading over the comprehension questionsto focus attention on finding that information while reading

7. Constructing semantic webs(a graphic arrangement of concepts or words showing how they are related)

8. Doing guided practice with guessing meaning from contextor checking comprehension while reading

Source: http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/reading/developread.htm

Reading Research:

Good readers



Integrate information in the text with



Have a


reading style, depending on what

they are reading



Rely on

different skills interacting

: perceptual

processing, phonemic processing, recall

Read for a purpose

; reading serves a function


“Learning is learning to think.”

Dewey (1933/1986, p. 176)

“Properly organized learning results

in mental development”.

Vygotsky (1978, p. 90)

The process of putting something into words is similar to the process of working out a problem.

“Because the acquisition of

information is so dependent on


, the measurement of


of materials is of

great concern.”

(Blau,1982: 517)

Reading Strategies to help students

read more effectively

1. Previewing: reviewing titles, section headings, and photo captions to get a sense of the structure and content of a reading selection 2. Predicting: using knowledge of the subject matter to make

predictions about content and vocabulary and check

comprehension; using knowledge of the text type and purpose to make predictions about discourse structure; using knowledge about the author to make predictions about writing style, vocabulary, and content

3. Skimming and scanning:using a quick survey of the text to get the main idea, identify text structure, confirm or question predictions 4. Guessing from context: using prior knowledge of the subject and

the ideas in the text as clues to the meanings of unknown words, instead of stopping to look them up

5. Paraphrasing: stopping at the end of a section to check comprehension by restating the information and ideas in the text

Task-Based Learning TBL

Task complexity ¿=? Linguistic difficulty


(1984) highly cognitively demanding

yet heavily contextualized tasks

Two-way tasks

(Long, 1994)

Planning time

results in better learners’


Meaningful tasks:


Non-linguistic but content aims



Task-Based Learning TBL

TBLT foundations

“For starters, this means having students do

tasks, or at least meaningful simulations, that

experts do in the various disciplines. Second, it

means teaching them to think in ways that

experts do when they perform these tasks.”

Sternberg (2003) p. 5

Original source: Norris (2005)

0 +


Transformations (planning)

0 +



+ 0





Dialogic v. Monologic

+ 0



Fluency Complexity

Accuracy Task characteristic

Taskinfluence on L2 performance Adapted from: Skehan (2001) Original source: Norris (2005)

Measurement in TBLT:

Problems of practice

Initial Evaluation aims to

1. Check learner’s

prior experience

2. Check learner’s



3. Raise


4. Anticipate

some content and


5. Detect

potential problems

Content Schemata

Content schemata

are more helpful to

EFL reading than

linguistic simplification


Steffensen, Joag-Dev, and Anderson (1979). –Steffensen and Joag-Dev (1984), – Carrell (1987),

–Johnson (1982), Kang (1992), –Oh (2001),

Hossein Keshavarz & Reza Atai(2007)

Against Linguistic Simplification



Learners benefit from the information regarding relationships that is revealed by complex sentences. Short, simple sentences actually are an obstacle to comprehension

Strother and Ulijn


NS and NNS comprehension of original texts v. texts that are simplified syntactically but not lexically confirms that LS does not make texts more readable.





LS does not make a text easier to understand as a whole




, and




Against Linguistic Simplification

Yano, Long, & Ross


Elaborated input



Elaboration is more facilitative than simplification. Low-proficiency students did not significantly benefit from




“these [simplified] materials can remain difficult because of the loss of connectors and other language used to guide the reader through the text” (p. 2).

Hossein Keshavarz & Reza Atai


LS impeded the comprehension and recall of the content-familiar texts.

Against Linguistic Simplification

Blau, E. K. (1982). The effect of syntax on readability for ESL students in Puerto Rico.

TESOL Quarterly, 16, 517–28.

Parker, K., & Chaudron, C. (1987). The effects of linguistic simplification and elaborative modifications on L2 comprehension. University of Hawaii Working Papers in ESL, 6, 107–133.

Strother, J. B., & Ulijn, J. M. (1987). Does syntactic rewriting affect English for science and technology (EST) text comprehension? In J. Devine, P. L. Carrell & D. E. Eskey (Eds.), Research in reading in English as a second language.Washington, D.C.: TESOL.

Britton, B. K., Gulgoz, S., & Glynn, S. (1993). Impact of good and poor writing on learners: Research and theory. In B. K. Britton, A. Woodward, & M. Binkley (Eds.),

Learning from textbooks: Theory and practice(pp.1–46). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

Yano, Y., Kong, M., & Ross, S. (1994). The effects of simplified and elaborated texts on foreign language reading comprehension. Language Learning. 44, 189–219.

Byrd, H. P. (2000). It’s all the same grammar: Re-thinking grammar at various proficiency levels.Retrieved from


Oh, S. Y. (2001). Two types of input modification and EFL reading comprehension: Simplification versus elaboration.TESOL Quarterly,35, 69–96.

Hossein Keshavarz, M., & Reza Atai, M. (2007). Content schemata, linguistic simplification, and EFL readers’ comprehension and recall. Reading in a Foreign Language, 19(1).

Extensive Reading


(1994) makes a strong case for extensive

reading as an effective and efficient path to

obtaining input for acquisition.


(1995) points out that moderate to low

frequency words occur much more frequently in

written texts than in common speech, thus

offering greater opportunity for acquisition.

–The reader also has time, when needed, to form and confirm hypotheses about meaning and usage.

–Speech, on the other hand, may pass by too quickly for this to be done.

Benefits of Extensive Reading

Janopoulos(1986) found pleasure readingin English the variable correlating most strongly with English writing proficiency among ESL students,

Tsang's(1996) study, time spent readingproved more helpful to learners' writing (language use and content) than time spent writing.

Hafiz and Tudor(1989; 1990), in companion studies in ESL (England) and EFL (Pakistan) contexts, also recorded significant gains in writing proficiency(accuracy, fluency, range of expression) resulting from extensive reading,

Mason and Krashen(1996) reported that students in extensive reading based courses enjoyed greater relative gains in reading speed, writing proficiency, and performance on cloze tests than their counterparts in reading skills/grammar-translation based courses.

Extensive Reading

• Both Hafiz and Tudorand Mason and Krashenalso observed positive effects on attitudestowards English among extensive readers.

Robb and Susser(1989), comparing extensive reading based and skills based reading curricula, saw extensive readers improve their reading skillsat least as much as the control group, while reportedly enjoying the process much more.

Gradman and Hanania(1991) found extensive reading for personal interest and enjoyment to be by far the strongest influence on scores on the TOEFLand its subsections including listening comprehension

Elley(1991), reviewing a number of empirical studies, reported significantly greater gains in reading, writing, listening, and speakingskills among primary school children involved in "book-flood" programs than ones receiving traditional audio-lingual instruction, particularly as assessment was extended over longer periods (one to three years).

PISA 2006 Reading Results

There has been a

general drop

in reading

comprehension scores in all countries in 2006.

The drop is particularly striking in Spain, down

to 461 points.

These results are frankly disturbing and

confirm the

poor Spanish performance

in the

international IEA PIRSL reading


PISA 2006 Reading Results Spain

Spain obtained a qualification of 461 points,

fourth from the bottom

, ahead only of

Greece,Turkey and Mexico.

Spain was the country that saw

the most severe


from the previous assessment in the year


The highest levels in reading were those of South

Korea (556 points), Finland (547), Hong Kong

(536) and Canada (527).

http://www.elperiodico.cat/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=46&idioma=CAT &idnoticia_PK=464310&idseccio_PK=1021

LOE 2006

In light of the poor results for reading

comprehension in Spain, the 2006 Education

Act (LOE)

calls for more time to be specifically

devoted to reading in all grades


The LOE also calls for teachers of

all subjects


be responsible for the development of reading

comprehension in their classes. (


across the curriculum


While-Reading Tasks

Hyland (1990), Nunan (1999) and Brown

(2001) discuss




activities. According to Brown, skimming and

scanning are thought to be the most valuable

reading strategies. Through skimming, a

reader is able to predict the purpose of the

passage, and gets the writer’s message

(Flowerdew and Peacock 2001).

Post-Reading Tasks

According to Chastain (1988), post-reading activities

help readers to clarify any unclear meaning where

the focus is on the meaning not on the grammatical

or lexical aspects of the text.

Ur (1996) discusses summarize as a kind of

post-reading activity where the readers are asked to

summarise the content in a sentence or two. It is

also possible to give this post-reading activity in the

mother tongue.

Main References

TBLT by John Norris (2005)


Strategies for Developing Reading Skills by

NCLRC available from


• Williams, E. Reading in the Language Classroom. London: Macmillan, 1984.(p37) Urquhart, Sandy, and Cyril Weir. Reading in a Second Language: Process, Product and Practice. New York:

Addison Wesley Longman Ltd, 1998. (p185)



Life in the time of the

Roman Empire:

Exploiting a short story in TBLT-CLIL

David C. Hall & Teresa Navés






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