The sheltered classroom as a context for second language learning processes and outcomes

Mohamed Ismail bin Ahamad Shah, University of Pennsylvania


An increasing number of content-based language programs is being implemented across the educational spectrum. The design of these programs is based or the assumption that, through subject matter content learning, second language (L2) acquisition will be automatically enhanced, despite the absence of focus on formal L2 features in the classroom. Concerns have been raised about this assumption, however, and questions have been advanced as to whether content-based language classrooms, in their emphasis on subject matter content, actually provide students with conditions claimed theoretically to be necessary for L2 learning, namely, (1) access to L2 input, modified toward comprehensibility and illustrative of relationships of L2 form and meaning; (2) access to feedback focused on L2 form and on relationships of L2 form and meaning; and (3) student production of modified output. This dissertation was designed, therefore, to seek evidence for these conditions through a study of three classrooms that followed a sheltered model of content instruction. Subjects for the study were three teachers and fifty-one L2 English students from Biology, Physical Science and American History classrooms in a high school in the U.S. Teacher-student interaction was audio-taped and used to test the hypotheses that the classroom interaction would offer input, teacher feedback, and student output for L2 learning, but less so than input, feedback, and output for content learning. In addition, the teachers were interviewed regarding their beliefs and practice on the integration of L2 and content learning in their classrooms. Results of the study confirmed the hypotheses, which were further supported by the teachers' claims that their need to focus on subject matter content when providing input and feedback to their students limited their opportunities to meet L2 conditions. Insofar as the three classrooms of the study were representative of a sheltered model of content and L2 instruction, these results added to concerns regarding the design and implementation of the sheltered classroom as a context for L2 learning.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Ahamad Shah, Mohamed Ismail bin, "The sheltered classroom as a context for second language learning processes and outcomes" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9965564.