Do They Want the Same Thing? Learner Perspectives on Two Content-Based Course Designs in the Context of English as a Foreign Language

| December 24, 2010
Title
Do They Want the Same Thing? Learner Perspectives on Two Content-Based Course Designs in the Context of English as a Foreign Language

Keywords: content-based instruction, student attitude, course design, English as a foreign language, higher education in Taiwan

Authors
Michael C. Cheng, Chang Jui-Chuan, Chen Yi-Chen, & Liao Ying-shu
National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Bio Data
Michael Cheng is a lecturer at National Chengchi University s Department of English. He has an M.A. TESOL from Eastern Michigan University and is currently in the TESOL PhD program at National Chengchi University. His research interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning, the use of emerging technology in language learning, developing oral proficiency, and social interaction in language learning. Chang Jui-chuan obtained his master s degree in Writing Theory and Pedagogy at DePaul University, Illinois, USA. He is currently an adjunct lecturer and a Ph.D. student of TESOL at National Chengchi University. He is also Coordinator of the NCCU Writing Center. His major research interests are ESL/EFL writing, culture pedagogy, critical pedagogy, and postcolonialism.

Yi-chen Chen, MS.ED in TESOL from University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., is an adjunct lecturer at National Chengchi University. She is pursuing a doctorate in the TESOL PhD program at National Chengchi University as well. Her research is focused on issues of extensive learning, content-based instructions, and cognitive linguistics.

Liao Ying-shu s areas of research are learner autonomy and interlanguage pragmatics. She received her M.A. in TESOL from Tamkang University in 2003 and is currently a PhD student at National Chengchi University. She has taught courses on English tests, oral training, and reading training at the university level.

Abstract
The notion of content-based instruction (CBI) has been widely applied to English as a second language (ESL) classrooms with satisfactory learning outcomes in the last two decades. Although it has been intensively explored in the field of applied linguistics, the empirical research provides only indirect implications for CBI curriculum development (Stoller, 2004). By definition, CBI has a dual commitment to both language- and content-learning objectives. Therefore, most courses offered at the tertiary level in Taiwan, either in English departments or with English instruction, are content-based in nature because content knowledge and language proficiency are highly required elements in such an academic setting. To add to current CBI literature perspectives on English as a foreign language (EFL), this research presented two models of content-based courses, one content-driven and the other language-driven, with a questionnaire to elicit English majors opinions on the two course designs. The results showed that they preferred the language-driven course and that they aspired for more language-skills training. It is therefore argued that there are differences in student beliefs concerning their needs and expectations between the EFL and ESL settings.

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 12 Issue 4