Unit 4: Language Objectives

NAVIGATE TO: Arr.GIF About the Author | Arr.GIF ETAP 623 Fall 2017 Section 7619 | Arr.GIF Academic Language Building for ELLs in Content Classrooms

Unit 4 Objectives: By the end of unit 4, the participants will:

  • Explain why it is important to incorporate language objectives in lessons for ELLs.
  • Differentiate content and language objectives.
  • Recall and sequence important steps involved in writing a language objective.
  • Write language objectives using a writing frame.
  • Self-assess learning in regard to basic knowledge and the writing of language objectives.

Section 1: Why Incorporating Language Objectives in Lessons?

Activity 1:
1. Watch the Video:
Watch Dr. Cythia Lundgren of Hamline University explain the importance of writing clear language objectives for ELLs. Why Language Objectives? by colorincolorado [1]

2. Summarize: Why is it important to incorporate language objectives in lessons for ELLs?
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Section 2: Content Objective vs. Language Objective

What are content and language objectives?
How are they different?

Activity 2: Investigate the difference between content objective and language objective.
1. Read the sample content and language objectives.

Sample Content & Language Objectives [9]

2. Watch the PowToon [3]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfIheht9hGw [2]

Short video with voice over describes Content and Language Objectives and how they support all learners, especially English Language Learners.

3. Summarize how content objective is different from language objective
4. Differentiate: Which of the following statementis a content objective and which is a language objective? Why?

(1) Students will be able to use maps to determine elevation of a place.
(2) Students will be able to verbally explain how the topography corresponds to the elevation in a location by using comparative adjectives.
(3) Students will be able describe in writing how energy flows from the sun to producers and consumers using sequence words.
(4) Student will be able to trace the flow of energy through a food web.

Answers: Click "Discussion" on the top left hand corner to check answers.

Section 3: How to Write Language Objectives Overview

Activity 3: Steps for Developing a Language Objective
1. Watch a viedo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4VLJ6lzi0s [3]
2. Then, sequence the steps for writing a language objective: Write 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

Step ______: Determine the standard
Step ______: Create Content Objectives
Step ______: Determine which objectives require language
Step ______: Decide what language the content objectives require
Step ______: Decide which language to focus on

Answers: Click "Discussion" on the top left hand corner to check answers.

Activity 4: Explore
1. Read the guidelines for effective language objectives.
2. Read the samples of language objectives.
Download the file: https://www.scoe.org/files/kinsella-handouts.pdf [4]

Qualities of Effect Language Objectives & Samples

Section 4: Language Objective Writing Frame:

Recommended Language Objective Writing Frame:

  • Students will (function) using (language target).
  • Or Students will use (language target) to (function).

Special Note: Use active verbs for language function.

Language Objective Frames

Activity 5: Use Available Resources
1. Read the samples of language objectives for reading, writing, listening and speaking.
2. What are some language objectives listed you might be able to modify and use for your lessons?

Go Beyond: Language Objectives: The Key to Effective Content Area Instruction for English Learners 

In this article written for Colorín Colorado, Jennifer Himmel of the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) provides an overview of how to use language objectives in content-area instruction for English learners. Her overview includes: [9]

  • what a language objective is
  • steps that teachers can take to create language objectives
  • how to implement language objectives in a general education classroom
  • how to align objectives to content and language standards
  • ideas and resources on how to support teachers as they become familiar with this practice.

Section 5: Guidelines & Checklist for Generating Language Objectives

Four Steps to Writing an Effective Language Objective: [5] Download the File

  1. Determine what vocabulary and grammatical structures are essential to the lesson or content objective.
  2. Describe activities that students will DO in order to demonstrate what they KNOW about the vocabulary.
  3. Utilize one or more of the language domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).
  4. Align lesson activities to higher order thinking skills

Checklist for Evaluating Content and Language Objectives [6] Download the File: Checklist (Page 2)

  • The objectives are observable.
  • The objectives are written and presented in language the students can understand.
  • The content objective is related to the key concept of the lesson.
  • The language objective promotes student academic language growth (it is not something most students already do well).
  • The language objective connects clearly with the lesson topic or lesson activities.
  • I have a plan for assessing student progress on meeting these objectives during the lesson.

Section 6: Apply, Assess & Reflect

1. Refer back to the regents exam question you identified in unit 1.
2. Review the academic language you have identified in unit 3.
3. Think about your "Carlos" identified in unit 2 and his/ her language needs.

Also think about the other ELLs in your class who have the same language needs.

4. Now, write a language objective for the lesson to address their needs so they can access the grade-appropriate content.

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Assessment: Answer the Questions.
1. How are content objective and language objective different?
2. Why is it important to have language objectives for lessons for ELLs?
3. What are the different components in a well constructed language objective?
4. What is the structure of writing frame for language objectives?

Reflection & Self-assessment:
1. How confident are you with the language objective you completed? Mark confidence levels using 1, 2 or 3 (3= highest).
2. How confident are you with your answers to the assessment questions? Mark confidence level for each answer.
3. What was easy & difficult for me when writing a language objective? How can I improve on that?
4. What resources do I have in the school to help me develop language objectives?

Section 6: Additional Resources

[ Content and Language Objectives ]
Watch the Video: Content and Language Objectives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CKnUH6Hkew [7]
Watch the video by Ms. Erica Lee on how to integrate content and language objectives.

  • This is a very well-structured video demonstrating how to integrate content and language objectives.
  • The objective also specifies the support needed to help students achieve the learning outcomes.
  • There are guided practice activities incorporated in the video.


(1) Follow the video to Identify the "function, form(s), content stem and method of support" in the content/language objectives.
(2) Follow the video to improve the writing of content/language objectives.
(3) Download the objective writing template mentioned in the video created by the speaker: Download the Template [8]

Getting Around

Back to Main Page: Academic Language Building for ELLs in Content Classrooms

Unit 1: Why Teach Academic Language in Content Classrooms?

Unit 2: How to Serve ELLs? The Basics

Unit 3: Academic Language

Unit 4: Language Objectives

Mini-course Summary

Connect with Others

Additional ELL Resources


Unit 1: Why Teach Academic Language in Content Classrooms- References
Unit 2: How to Serve ELL? The Basics- References
Unit 3: Academic Language- References
Unit 4: Language Objective- References