Going beyond the Sentence Grammar: Theme–Based Approaches in the EFL Classroom

Monika Akiert

Theme–based language instruction encourages learners in the EFL context to learn the target language by actually using the language as a real means of communication. It offers an alternative to the traditional EFL methods in that language proficiency is achieved by shifting the focus of instruction from the learning about language to the learning of language through a study of a given theme. In this presentation, I will offer concrete and practical ideas for implementing theme–based approaches in the EFL classrooms within the Vietnamese context.

First, the theme modules as the center pieces around which the entire curriculum is designed will be considered. Teachers can create a lesson or a course designed to build on their students' interests, and the content can be chosen from a pool of diverse themes. Next, the study of grammar in a theme–based course will be highlighted and illustrated. The theme–based syllabus allows language educators to move the linguistic targets of their lessons beyond the superficially controlled sentence-level manipulation into the real, discourse-based communication in the target language. As such, the study of grammar is linked to, defined by, and dependent upon the themes. Ways of incorporating linguistic targets into theme-based lessons will be shared. Finally, textbook-supported theme-based approaches will be sampled to provide teachers with ideas ready for implementation in their own classrooms.