As we have seen, CLIL is Content Learning integrating Language. It is not a new concept but is becoming more popular among teachers. Maybe because it enhances both content and language learning: killing two birds with one stone as they say.
We, as teacher trainers, explore and explain the realms of CLIL. The definition, the origin, the whys and the why nots. Most importantly, we teach how. How can we implement this CLIL method into our classrooms. Our training is on understanding the theory and putting into practice.
As many people might not know, is that CLIL is not so simple and one sided. CLIL is interwoven with many underlying themes such as: hard and soft CLIL, the BICS and the CALPS, the LOTS and the HOTS, all acronyms of important elements to the teaching of CLIL.
We discuss the difference between hard and soft CLIL: Hard CLIL focuses on the subject/content. Soft CLIL highlights the language. The method uses the language to pass on the knowledge from a non linguistic subject.
We further discuss and present Cummin’s iceberg theory where the BICS are the basic interpersonal communicative skills which are learned in the first three-seven years of life whereas the CALPS are the cognitive academic language proficiency skills that may take a lifetime to master.
The LOTS, lower order thinking skills and the HOTS, higher order of thinking skills are all new concepts using the key words as remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create; asking the right questions at their right time. They are surprised and very interested in learning about the complexity of this apparent new method.
Our teachers enquire and we give answers based on our research and experience in a full English immersion atmosphere.
We, then, give examples of CLIL lessons looking at the way we plan our lessons answering the questions, what? who? And how? What brainstorming ideas can we do to arouse our students’ interest? What activities are we going have them do to pre teach any new vocabulary they might encounter? What linguistic skill are we going to present? Are we going to have our students work in pairs or in groups? What project are they going to do as a follow up activity? How are we going to give feedback?
All key elements in preparing a CLIL lesson. At the end, our teachers are given the possibility of creating their own lesson plan, depending on their area of expertise, and presenting it to their peers.
The teachers go home feeling prepared and armoured with new information and drive, striving and looking forward to doing it with their students.
All in all, learning about CLIL is an enjoyable possibility to learn more and give more to our students.
Written by Teresa Platì – JUMP Trainer