CLIL and the teaching of ENGLISH

On Monday September 21, I attended a talk organized by Marina Kollatou, Councillor for English teachers in Karditsa and Trikala. The talk was about CLIL,  that is Content and Language Integrated Learning by Dimitra Behlikoudi, English School Councillor in Pireus. The event was supplemented by a talk on English Language Resources by Ms Markella Karagiorga, ELT Consultant in the American Embassy.

I will write about CLIL today. It is amazing how you can be working in this sector for so many years (17 for me) and have heard so little about a certain section of it. You would think you should know everything by now, but there…. You never know everything about anything and this is the only truth. CLIL is hardly new, it has been going on for years and from what we heard in the talk it is widely used in Spain, Poland and other European countries, as well as North America.

screenshot.5

To make this a little more informative for people who happen to get here looking for information on CLIL, I will just say that it is teaching a subject in a language different from the usual one. For example it could be teaching Geography in English in a Greek school. It sounds very interesting, doesn’t it? And if we think of the example of immersion programs such as the ones that happened in Canada, we can understand its significance. Right now in Greece there is very little CLIL going on, if any at all. The only cases of CLIL are the IB schools that exist, schools where teaching is done in a foreign language. I don’t know if there is any research about the results of such education but I’m pretty sure that regarding acquiring the foreign language, students from such schools are much more fluent that students who take three or four hours of foreign language teaching per week.

However, there are some of us who have been doing CLIL without realizing it is called this way. Many eTwinning partnerships involve teaching like this. The eTwinning program we aspire to begin this year involves the teaching of Maths to 5th graders in at least five different countries. We are not going to be teaching maths completely in English but we are going to employ the common language to communicate our ideas to our partners, our students are going to use English to (virtually) buy and sell products as well as talk about money exchange. So there you have it: partnerships with content, resulting to more motivated students and teachers (hopefully).

I think this is the goal of CLIL, actually: To involve learners in a meaningful way, to engage them in situations where they have to communicate in the target language without thinking about correct use of this language.

The other day at school, a colleague was telling me about a student of his, who arrived in the Greek classroom at 11 years, having attended only German school before. The child was lost in the beginning, but pretty soon he started doing very well especially at subjects such maths and science. He certainly needed extra hours of lessons of Greek but he seemed to benefit greatly from the other subjects as well. So it was a bit like CLIL for him!

So, overall we enjoyed the talk very much, it’s always refreshing to learn new things!

Here are some useful links on CLIL:

CLIL: A lesson framework from BBC

Content and language integrated learning from the european commission

Resize of IMG_5136 Ms Karagiorga and Ms Behlikoudi

The illustration above was created by a web tool called WORDLE. And here is an article about how you can use it in the classroom.