Published 23rd November 2018

subjects to teach English

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is quite a broad job description. Breaking it down you need to consider teaching the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation of English. Plus, you need to teach reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The way we teach all of these is through a topic or theme – content, in other words. So one way to make our teaching interesting and engaging is to use other subjects to teach English.

If you are interested in using other subjects to teach English, follow these simple steps to plan your lesson.

How to use other subjects to teach English

First you need to decide which subject you would like to utilise. This will probably be determined by what language point you want to teach. For example, if you want to teach language related to numbers then you could use Maths or Cooking. Or if you want to teach the passive you could use a process in Science. Rest assured, whatever you want to teach you’ll be able to think of a subject you could use to teach it.

Then, do some research and make sure you know everything you need to know about the topic. You don’t have to have studied the subject yourself because you can find out everything you need to know online. A lot of the time the teacher will learn a thing or two in the lesson as well!

Once you know what you need to know, go back to the basics of lesson planning and consider the three P’s – Presentation, Practice, Production. In these cases, the presentation stage will be the time to focus on the topic of the lesson. The practice stage will ensure comprehension of the topic and the production stage will relate directly to the subject matter rather than the language structure.

Any focus on language will seem incidental to the student as the focus of the lesson will be on the subject. The language item will fit in effortlessly with the topic, as this is the way you would have planned it.

Ideas for using other subjects to teach English

Here are a few ideas of subject matter which lend themselves to particular language constructions:

Science
– The water cycle -> the passive
– Inventions -> the passive

Art
– Paintings -> colours

Ethics
– Laws -> first conditional

General Knowledge
– Current events -> second conditional

History
– World War I or II (or any war) -> third conditional

These are just a few ideas you can use to utilise other subjects to teach English. Using other subjects help make our lessons not only more interesting but also more educational, as our learners are learning content as well as language. Your students should already have a basic understanding of the content of your lessons from their other classes, meaning they will be able to focus on the language aspect of the lesson.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching English through other subjects, be sure to read our posts on Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).