Inspiration from IATEFL (2)

Two wonderful things from the CLIL forum this morning that are grist to my mill as a trainer on occasional CLIL courses for teachers .  First, Dr Jenny Skipp talked about a successful student-led exhibition.  This was a collective event as the culmination of content-based MA courses at Trier University in Denmark . It struck a chord with me as Jenny took through to fruition something that I saw as the germ of an idea among university teachers in Porto Alegre  last year as part of training across three Brazilian cities.  I wrote that up and you can see the article in this month’s MET Journal.   Here’s what was compelling about what Jenny’s students did:

  • The exhibition on The Diversity of Britain spanned three separate strands including British Identities and the Making of British Popular Culture, and each pair of students were required to write an essay on the flow of the exhibition, requiring them to also understand the two strands other than their own
  • It not only involved them in content, but they had training in transferrable skills e.g. working with someone who helped with how to stage an exhibition
  • They had to explain content at their stand both to staff members using high level language and work out how to grade their language to get the same message across to BA students visiting.  As Jenny says ‘this was a good test of their C2 level – to be able to understand complex ideas and scale up or down for the audience…a true illustration of mastery of English’.
  • The outcome? 80% said in feedback that they’d used higher order thinking skills and they scored 3 grade bands higher in assessment than the previous year’s cohort.

Second, Claudia Connolly told us about a primary CLIL project she’s been involved in through her work with the British Council, Paris.   A private partner school wanted to develop primary bilingual classes as a pathway to their existing secondary  school. Claudia was asked to design a curriculum for 40% of the school week, delivering content in English.  The challenges included:

  • children coming in with all levels of English, requiring differentiation through 1. promotion of learner autonomy 2.  assessment involving ‘same task-different assessment criteria’  3. in-built EFL/ESL course with coursebooks suited to 3 sub groups divided by language level and 3. challenging of the higher level pupils with CLIL cognitive skills including HOTS
  • no coursebook, so the content was delivered through a non-linear, topic-based approach that allowed Claudia to cut across subjects.   Language input came through images and film clips from teachit, Collins Primary tests, youtube, Oxfam Education Materials…and these were accessed through pupils’ individual ipads.   The group were asked to make mindmaps and these allowed them to take ownership of new lexis.  English was also provided ‘on demand’ by Claudia, the children invited to say what they wanted in French and get it translated

The other area to report on from today is about my colleague from Bell, Emily Curran giving something back in true IATEFL style. Emily’s recently trained up as a CELTA trainer and did a poster presentation for those who want to do the same.  Four quotes to inspire trainees when I work on a Train the Trainer course:

  • ‘training to be a trainer was reassuring…because it made me realise “Oh, I  do know more than I thought I knew” ‘
  • ‘my preparation tips? I want to meet my co-tutors before the course and be told what will be involved in the way they run it, and it’d be great to then have a week-by-week overview of what’s coming’
  • ‘doing the Cambridge standardisation for tutors before I worked on my first course, not after, would have helped’
  • ‘the biggest challenge to overcome is giving oral feedback – how much, the different ways, dealing with resistant trainees…’



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