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The Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach  

CALLA Content and Language Learning Strategies

This strategy list was developed by Anna Uhl Chamot (Copyright 2006) as part of CALLA content and strategies-based instruction.
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See also, "Learning Strategies for Purpose" based on the ACTFL Standards for Foreign Language Learning.
Please let me know how you use or teach strategies, in particular with technology, by answering the poll or survey questions.




Plan / Organize


Before beginning a task:

Set goals.

Plan the task or content sequence.

Plan how to accomplish the task (choose strategies).

Preview a text.

Monitor / Identify



While working on a task:

Check your progress on the task.

Check your comprehension as you use the language. Do you understand? If not, what is the problem?

Check your production as you use the language. Are you making sense? If not, what is the problem?


I did it!

After completing a task:

Assess how well you have accomplished the learning task.

Assess how well you have used learning strategies.

Decide how effective the strategies were.

Identify changes you will make the next time you have a similar task to do.

Manage Your Own


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Determine how you learn best.

Arrange conditions that help you learn.

Seek opportunities for practice.

Focus your attention on the task.



Use Background


I know.

Think about and use what you already know to help you do the task.

Make associations between new information and your prior knowledge.

Use new information to clarify or modify your prior knowledge.

Make Inferences

Use Clues

Use context and what you know to figure out meaning.

Read and listen between the lines.

Go beyond the text to understand its meaning.

Make Predictions

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Crystal Ball

Anticipate information to come.

Make logical guesses about what will happen in a written or oral text.

Make an estimate (math).

Make a hypothesis (science).



Relate new concepts to your own life, to your experiences, knowledge, beliefs and feelings.

Transfer / Use Cognates


Apply your linguistic knowledge of other languages (including your native language) to the target language.

Recognize cognates.

Substitute / Paraphrase

Make it work

Use a synonym or descriptive phrase for unknown words or expressions.

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Use Images

See it in your mind

Use or create an actual or mental image to understand and/or represent information.

Use or draw a picture or diagram.

Use Sounds

Sound Out

Say or read aloud a word, sentence, or paragraph to help your understanding.

Sound out/vocalize.

Use your “mental tape recorder” to remember sounds, words, phrases, and/or conversations.

Use Your Kinesthetic Sense

Act out a role, for example, in Readers’ Theater, or imagine yourself in different roles in the target language.

Use real objects to help you remember words, sentences, or content information.


Find/Apply Patterns


Apply a rule.

Make a rule.

Recognize and apply letter/sound, grammar, discourse, or register rules.

Identify patterns in literature (genre).

Identify patterns in math, science, and social studies.


Life cycle

Categorize words or ideas according to attributes.

Classify living things; identify natural cycles.

Identify order and sequences in math, science, and social studies.

Sequence events in history.

Take Notes


Write down important words and ideas while listening or reading.

List ideas or words to include in speaking or writing..

Use Graphic Organizers



A Venn diagram

Use or create visual representations (such as Venn diagrams, time lines, webs, and charts) of important relationships between concepts.


Main Idea

Create a mental, oral, or written summary of information.

Use Selective Attention

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Focus on specific information, structures, key words, phrases, or ideas.

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Access Information


Look it up!

Use the dictionary, the internet, and other reference materials.

Seek out and use sources of information.

Follow a model

Ask questions



Work with others to complete tasks, build confidence, and give and receive feedback.

Talk Yourself Through It


I can do it!

Use your inner resources. Reduce your anxiety by reminding yourself of your progress, the resources you have available, and your goals.


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