There is differentiated content provided for those students with prior knowledge or experience in the language. These students have some exposure to the language, either at home or at school, but are not fluent or confident users. They may understand more than their non-background peers, but don’t have strong skills. For example, the student may have had some lessons in primary school, or at another high school, or have spent some time living in the country, but not going to school. The student may also hear a language spoken at home or in the community (for example, their grandparents speak to their parents in Chinese at home) and so they may understand the spoken language, but don’t read, write or speak confidently.
There is also differentiated content provided for those students with a background in the language. These students come to your classroom with considerable knowledge of the language. They may have attended school in a country where the language is spoken for part of their education, or have received considerable instruction in the language. For example, a student may come from a Greek-speaking family and may have attended Saturday school throughout their primary school years, they may have lived in Japan and attended an international school where they learned Japanese as well as English, or they have recently moved from Argentina where they spoke Spanish as their first language and attended school.
Now it becomes an easier task for teachers to select the appropriate content to cater for the learning needs of these 3 broad groups. It should be noted that teachers are expected to choose the appropriate content according to the learners in their class and therefore, if a teacher is only teaching a class of second language learners and there are no students with prior knowledge/experience or background, the teacher simply selects the main content points to include and does not need to use the other content points.