#2 Rethinking WHAT we teach

Content-Based Instruction with Storytelling (CBIS)
Rethinking WHAT we Teach: Content and Language Integrated Learning
Second in the professional development series and Day 2 of Redefining Possibilities for  Learning Languages

imagesWhy rethink WHAT we teach?
The global era demands that students are world savvy, that they have knowledge of the world, understand how it works and are able to engage intelligently with their global counterparts.  That’s global competence.  World language education can teach about the world from diverse perspectives in ways that monolingual education cannot do.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) or Content-Based Instruction (CBI), are umbrella terms for teaching content and language simultaneously. CLIL was adopted in Europe in the 1990’s and is spreading across the globe.  This innovative fusion of subject areas is based on long-standing research in both general learning and language acquisition.  Janice Holter Kittok brings innovation within this innovation by bringing CLIL into the traditional school sequences of language study through Content-Based Instruction with Storytelling, Interactive Mini Lecture and other strategies.  World knowledge content (geography, history, biography, current events, global issues,pop culture, etc.) provides an authentic and relevant context for language acquisition.

Content-Based Instruction with Storytelling (CBIS), developed by Janice Holter Kittok, is an innovative combination of  Content-Based Instruction (CBI) – teaching interdisciplinary subject content in a language that the students are learning with Comprehensible Input Storytelling teaching strategies.

Content-Based Instruction with Storytelling (CBIS) employs storytelling techniques using authentic stories from the target cultures (legends, tales, literature) or nonfiction stories (biography, history, current events, stories told in photos, film and art…).  It contrasts and complements the “story-asking” techniques of TPRS (Teaching for Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) where the teacher and students co-create impromptu, fictional stories. Both employ Comprehensible Input (CI) strategies for language acquisition and fluency. CBS also addresses creating the environment for successful language output. Content-Based Storytelling is a two for one. Students learn content about the world and target cultures. Students in the USA lack world savvy – knowledge of world events, geography, history, in short, how the world works. CBS addresses both language proficiency AND global competence.

CBIS Lesson Sequence Steps

  1. Get Ready!
    Priming the students for learning new content AND setting them up for successful language acquisition.
  2. Comprehensible Input-Oral
    Natural, whole language interactive narratives and conversations
  3. Comprehensible Input-Written
    Natural whole language narratives (fiction and nonfiction)
  4. Output Bridge
    Designing instruction that builds confidence to create with the language and use knowledge to engage as an informed global citizen.

Content-Based Instruction with Storytelling (CBIS)  allows learners to acquire language naturally and then supports them as they cross the bridge from language input (listening and reading) to language output (speaking and writing).

What about teaching content that isn’t a storyline?

Janice Holter Kittok has created a strategy called Interactive Mini Lectures (IML).  Best practice for Content-Based Instruction (CBI) requires the teacher to use the target language in a way that is highly comprehensible to the students.  The same techniques used in CBS can be used when presenting straightforward information such as figures, names, dates, and geographical facts by doing Interactive Mini Lectures (IML).

Who should attend?

The inservice is designed for any language teacher. Classroom teachers of English Language Learners will also benefit from learning the language acquisition process and strategies to increase student comprehension.  The training’s open-ended format accommodates teachers who have never done any storytelling teaching along with teachers who are experienced in the techniques. Teachers who have never done any storytelling find the structure of CBS easy to learn.

No matter your personality or teaching style, any teacher can learn CLIL, CBS and IML strategies!


  • Demonstrated CBIS steps
  • Guided small group practice and sharing of ideas
  • Modeled templates for creating your own CBIS lessons


  • What are your personal strengths as you do a CBIS lesson?
  • What skills need polish? How will you learn these skills?
  • What cultural content is important for your students to know?


  • What are essential components of each CBIS step?
  • How can variations keep CBIS fresh and interesting?
  • How can students learn grammar from comprehensible narrative?


  • How can you start doing some CBS in your classes?
  • How can you go beyond your current performance level of CBS?

Contact Jan to bring an inservice to your school/city.