After reading Fredricka Stoller´s article on Content Based Instruction I remembered my teacher trainning years, when we were first introduced to the key principles of this methodology. I actually planned classes based on it, which I later delivered with great enthusiasm.
CBI would be my ideal approach for a lawyer who comes to me for one to one lessons to help him brush up his English for a presentation he has to deliver in English in seven month´s time. In this case where I know the learner has some basic grammar knowledge and a specific learning need I could use all the ideas clearly presented in the article. Technology would certainly facilitate the planning process as well as the production of student generated material.
As regards the general English courses I am asked to deliver I don´t see myself using CBI, simply because I consider you need to have the knowledge of the content and I am not a science teacher for example. Concentrating on one particular topic, may have the drawback of not catering for the variety of all students interests.
Lower level students pose another challenge when trying to implement this methodology. Charts and diagrams are appropriate here, as well as comprehensible chunks of language for students to use and practice and build from there.
We always use content to teach languages. After all the purpose of communication is meaningful interaction, that´s what most of my students are after when they enroll in my classes.