Integrated Language Teaching; Theme Based Teaching

Integrated Language Teaching; Theme Based Teaching

I. Introduction
In day-to-day interaction people commonly use more than one modes or language skills. This nature of communication, for instance, takes place when the speaker talks to the listener, she/he should talk and listen to the listener’s response almost at the same time and on the other way round the listener must listen and respond to the speaker. In this example, we notice that in language communication two or more language skills are integrated. This is the natural process of human communication. In today language teaching, skills integration has become the ultimate goal of the instruction. This trend influences the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in our context. The question that should be raised here : What models of language teaching focusing on integration? What principles underlying the models? How should we design integrated language teaching? These three questions will be discussed in this paper.

II. Models of Integrated Language Teaching
There are at least two models of integrated language teaching, namely: Content- based Teaching and Theme-based Teaching. In the first model, language is simply serve as the medium to present informational content of interest and relevance to language learners. The examples of content based-teaching are : Immersion program for elementary school children. This program commonly applied in English Teaching as a Second Language (ESL program). English for Specific Purposes which is designed for university students.
The second model, theme-based or topic-based teaching which is regarded as the weak version of content-based teaching is organized around themes or topics. This model to a certain extent has already been applied in our 1994 English curriculum. The model will be addressed in this paper.

III. Principles of theme Based Teaching
Brown (1994:222) indicates that four major principles underlying theme-based teaching covering:
1. The automaticity principle that include the following points:
– subconscious process of language learning through meaningful use
– the emphasis is on the purposes of language use
– analyzing language structures is avoided.

2. Meaningful principle which implies that what students will learn should be related to what they know and experience. This requires the English teaching and learning processes capture students’ interests and needs.
3. Intrinsic motivation principle indicates that the practice of English teaching and learning should be intrinsically motivating for the students. The principle implies that teaching should at least meet the following:
– create and maintain student’s curiosity;
– provide a variety of activities and sensory stimulation;
– relate learning to students’ needs; and
– set goals for learning.

4. Communicative principle means that the English teaching should help students acquire and develop communicative competence. In practice, the competence is realized in the students’ ability to use the four language skills in their communication.

IV. The Desaign of Theme Based Teaching
The following are suggested for designing integrated language teaching using theme or topic-based teaching.
1. Set the objectives. Here, we consider students’ interests and needs. We have to make sure that students know the objectives. This will be intrinsically motivated for them.

2. Select and organize the materials based on the objectives. We have to negotiate with students in selecting topics by considering their interests and their prior knowledge related to the topics selected.

3. Use authentic materials, such as, brochure, leaflet, timetables or other texts from the existing situation including realia or real objects.

4. Present the materials using appropriate strategy. The suggested strategy in the existing English curriculum includes the following:
– Three-Stage Strategy like Pre-activity, While-activity and Post-activity.
– K-W-L strategy (Ogle, 1986) designed particularly for expository reading.
– K stands for What students Know
– W stands for What students Want to know
– L stands for What students Learned.

1. Brown, Douglas H.(2001). Teaching by Principles; An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New York: Longman.

2. Nunan, David.(1990). Designing Tasks for Communicative Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

3. Sundayana, Wachyu.(1997). Pengajaran Bahasa Berdasarkan Tema. Bandung: IBP Press.

You can download here The Sample of Instructional Planning for Integrated Language Teaching

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