USA: About Language Objectives in Classrooms with English Learners


Teachers with English learners need to me mindful of adding content objectives to all lessons.  Read more about it here:

Erik Halvorson wrote:

Education Connections

All teachers know that a critical aspect of success in the classroom involves effectively designing, defining, implementing, and assessing content area lessons. Incorporating content objectives is an important strategy for clearly outlining the goals of a lesson, the teacher’s responsibilities, and what students will be able to do, know, or show at the end. Content objectives should be concrete and clearly communicated to students and directly support the grade-level content standards and learning outcomes of the school, district, or state (e.g., The Common Core State Standards).

For classrooms that have English learners, alongside the content objectives, teachers should also integrate lesson plan objectives which clearly outline and support students’ academic language development. These language objectives are similar to content objectives in that they work to directly support school, district, and state standards and learning outcomes, they are clearly outlined for students during each lesson both in oral and written form, and they are assessed and reviewed at the end of each lesson. Language objectives should correspond to the language proficiency standards associated with a classroom’s medium of instruction. In order to successfully incorporate and develop language objectives, teachers should know students’ language proficiency levels so objectives respond to the language learning needs of their students and promote development of the academic language (English or otherwise) associated with a specific content area (Echevarría, Vogt, & Short, 2013).

Here is a clip of Dr. Cynthia Lundgren explaining why language objectives matter

Another resource regarding integrating objectives is this article, by Jennifer Himmel from the Center for Applied Linguistics, which outlines in more detail what a language objective is, how to develop and implement them in your classroom, and lists other resources that may be helpful as teachers begin to use language objectives in their classroom.

Also, if you are looking for a way to start using language objectives with your students, but you aren’t sure where to start, try this visual organizational tool  from the Academic Language Development Network website (Zwiers, O’Hara, & Pritchard, 2014) which helps you identify and plan your language objectives.

Beginning to incorporate language objectives alongside content objectives in your classroom is a key step to ensuring that English learner and emergent bilingual students are supported in the classroom, have opportunities to practice developing their language skills (reading, written, listening, and speaking), and have equal access to the curriculum, regardless of language background (Himmel, 2012).


Echevarría, J., Vogt, M.E., & Short, D. (2013). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP® Model. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

Himmel, J. (2012). Language objectives: The key to effective content area instruction for English learners. Colorín Colorado. Accessed on February 27, 2015 from

Zwiers, O’Hara, & Pritchard (2014). Common Core Standards in diverse classrooms: Essential practices for developing academic language and disciplinary. Stenhouse.

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