Teaching English Second Language

Kathleen Hill

What is your objective?

The overall objective of education is "to identify what students should know and be able to do" (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2013, p. 26). For an English Language learner (ELL) the teacher's objective is to guide teaching and learning through both content learning objectives and language learning objectives.

In the lesson preparation, video Vogt (n.d.) explains the need for an “ongoing cycle of assessing, of teaching, of re-teaching, and of assessing, and ultimately determining if our students have meet our content and language objectives.”

What are Content and Language Objectives

Content is the subject of study. Grade school academic content areas include: mathematics, English language arts, science, history, social studies, geography, arts, music, foreign languages, and technology. English language skills are the tools to support all learners to understand, communicate, and interact with content. Herczog (2012) writes, “Bottom line is this…if English learners cannot access subject area content or develop academic English language proficiency because their English language arts skills are weak, they cannot adequately understand (any) content, internalize it, make sense of it, or apply it in the real world” (p. 90). The objectives are the focus for each lesson.

Lesson Preparation

When the content and language objectives are written for students to hear and see the main advantage is learners know what they are learning and why. If they have a focus on what and why, the students are able to decide what is important to pay attention to and remember. Objectives written for all to see provide a classroom management tool to keep students focused on the goals in hopes to reach the desired outcome. The benefit of sharing the content objectives is ELLs have a mental map or graphic organizer to know where to put new information. Language objectives highlight the importance of English literacy beyond the conversational, “How are you?” A benefit of sharing the language objectives is the support it offers unidentified ELLs and struggling readers.

With the written objectives, educators know what content is to be taught and what language skills students need to learn the content. As students increase proficiency with complete sentences they will make connections which help them comprehend English language structures and vocabulary. Teachers can ask the students what they are learning today or what strategy are we concentrating on. If the objectives are not met at the end of the lesson teachers can go back and review. Besides, at the end of the lesson, or the day, students should be able to write a learning objective or strategy in their journals or on an ticket to exit.


Echevarria, J., Vogt, M.E., & Short, D.J. (2013) Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model. (fourth ed.) New York: Pearson.

Herczog, M. (2012). What’s our objective for English learners? Preparation for college, career, and citizenship via language objectives and research-based instruction. Social Studies Review, 51, 89-93.

Vogt, M. (n.d.) Module 2: Audio/video 2: Lesson preparation video. Nevada State College course EDRL 474 A03 Methods for English Language Learning.

Nevada State College

EDRL 474 AO3 - Methods for Eng Lang Lrn - Sp14
March 31, 2014

Images by Philip Martin.