This electronic journal is comprised of different volumes, each of which contains content rich material for language instruction. The content in each volume is related to an aspect of building or maintaining a Civil Society, topics that affect students' personal or professional lives on a daily basis. It is hoped that in using this content and working through the suggested activities, instructors and students will work toward a greater awareness and understanding of a global civil society as the students improve their communicative competence in English. The authors of the different volumes approach each chapter with a state-of-the-art perspective regarding language instruction, assuming certain universal understandings.

Language instructors realize that they are asked to teach more than just the rules of language and lists of vocabulary. They are asked to teach their students how to communicate in a new language. They are also asked to use authentic material and create an environment for using the language that is as realistic as possible. Language instructors realize that the content of their lessons must be meaningful and the activities engaging if the students are to be motivated and learning and acquisition are to take place. Also, instructors are asked to provide activities that engage the students to use the target language to communicate rather than just imitate.

Paradigms, theories, and techniques have been developed to aid the instructors in their tasks. The paradigm of content-based instruction gives the instructor the framework for combining the study of language with the learning or understanding of authentic content. Techniques such as scaffolding help to make the content more accessible to the student. Theories such as learning strategies and multiple intelligences help instructors to appropriately design their lessons for maximum benefit to each student's own academic culture. Choices of activities such as reading, discussion, and interviews aid the instructor to focus on strengthening the students' basic language skills (listening, speaking, reading writing) in an integrated way that will foster communication and promote the students' self-reliance in the target language.

Selecting content to work with is often a difficult task for instructors. Concerns such as student interest and availability of appropriate material need to be taken into consideration. One axiom that stands out is that students are generally interested in topics that affect or touch on their daily lives (personal or professional). If the subject of the content is perceived as having a direct relationship to who they are or what they do, the students will most likely be interested and motivated, regardless of their age or position.

This electronic journal is designed to aid the English as a foreign language instructor in the task of finding and working with relevant and authentic material. The hope is to provide instructors with content rich material and exercises for the EFL class that students will find interesting and that will help students not only to improve their English but also better understand their place in the world's society as well as improve their critical thinking and analytical skills. Each volume will contain ten chapters covering different topics related to the key issue of the volume (e.g., peace education, environmental education, civic education, and business ethics). Each chapter will have four basic parts, including a brief background on and discussion of the topic(s) presented, classroom activities designed for a lower intermediate class but which can be adapted to a more advanced level class, other resources for authentic materials (internet, books, videos, etc.), and references for what has been presented.

Instructors are encouraged to read through the different volumes and select materials and exercises to download and share in their classes. The exercises should be adapted as necessary to make them as accessible and interesting to the students as possible. Comments regarding each volume may be made by clicking on the appropriate comments button. Suggestions for other exercises related to the issues presented are also welcome. We hope you find this site educational, interesting, and challenging.

 


On October 1, 1999, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will become part of the
U.S. Department of State. Bureau webpages are being updated accordingly. Thank you for your patience.