Under one roof: considerations on integrating content and language

Aleksandra Zaparucha

It was quite interesting to listen to Aleksandra Zaparucha's plenary speech on CLIL at Iatefl Liverpool 2019. Iatefl is still in the air. I can still remember roaming through the interesting streets of Liverpool although the weather was rainy most of the time. I can still breathe the pure air of the early morning greeting me as I approached the Conference Arena where the Iatefl took place. I hope I will have enough time to tell you about the unusual things that happened along the way to and fro and show you the exciting photos I took around. Now let's turn to Aleksandra and see what she has in store for us. 

Aleksandra started her talk by asking the audience to exchange one info about CLIL together. Then she introduced a slide with the three words she is going to concentrate on: Connection, Extensions and Challenges. Connection between what you know and what she will speak about. Extension of your knowledge of CLIL and Challenges to some of your perceptions.

 Then she mentioned that she will speak about the What, Why, How and What Content and end up with a Poetic Conclusion.

She started by answering the question “What is CLIL?” stating that CLIL can be seen as an umbrella term including EMI, Bilingual Education, Immersion and English across the Curriculum. It deals with language integration, a real challenge, methodology support. “Method to be used in any situation where non-linguistic content (i.e. school subjects) is merged with a foreign language in and outside the classroom.”

According to Aleksandra subjects and language can’t be treated equally, but to enable students to use the language effectively to express those subjects.
CLIL is divided into two types Hard CLIL: is delivered in a subject class by a subject teacher. It is subject driven (i.e. has a curriculum). While Soft CLIL: is found in a language class by a language teacher. It is also subject driven.

WHY has CLIL then become a buzz term' recently? CLIL is knowledge unity with a discipline to close gaps between curricula by cross-curricular modules. CLIL shifts language from grammar and vocabulary to speak about other topics, thus we show our students that language is a ‘tool’ rather than a goal in itself. This provides us with instant results and motivates students by asking them to present on different topics using the language learnt. This can be called ‘content and language unity’.

Here Aleksandra moves to the HOW and mentions the 4Cs used when conducting a CLIL lesson. Here the Content refers to the subjects used, Communication is the language of instructions, Cognition refers to the thinking skills, while Culture, on the other hand, refers to the topics included in the curriculum. “Here all 4Cs are given equal importance. Yet as a subject teacher, she remembered struggling with this approach specifically with the last C ‘Culture’. As a result she suggested a different approach.

She put the first 3Cs together divided into equal parts in a circle and surrounded them with a bigger circle of ‘Culture’ because she believed that “the way we communicate whether in a native or foreign language, the content we teach and the way we think depend on CULTURE.

Quite a number of books have been written about CLIL since the ideas has been introduced, one of which is “Putting CLIL into Practice” by Phil Ball, John Clegg and Keith Kelly (2015). The book addresses both soft and hard CLIL for teachers where it offers 10 detailed CLIL parameters rather than 4Cs.  These shouldn’t be dealt with separately “on the contrary they can be merged into one CLIL wheel.”

These parameters are:
1.                  Content Sequence
“Teaching a content subject is based on a sequence of info……… In geography before students are asked to use a map, they need to be taught what a map is. Such a sequence is desirable in Soft CLIL, a series of lessons rather than just one.”

2.                  Concept Language
We shouldn’t compromise the content for the sake of the language.

3.                  Task Language
The concept we use dictates the language we should use. E.g. a history lesson needs to be based on past tense whether studied by the students or not.

4.                  Guided Multimedia Input
It should be guided, planned and staged to avoid student confusion

5.                  3 Dimensions: Content, Language, Procedure
If a teacher asks the students to use a text to construct a mind map or Venn diagram; if this is new to the students, so the procedure needs a lot of attention. If the lesson has new heavy vocabulary, so it needs extra language support and attention on the part of the teacher. If there is extra challenge, the teacher should use simple procedure, no new ones. “Every CLIL lesson needs to fill in these three dimensions”.

6.                  Key Language
Notice here that “we moved swiftly from content to communication (key language). This is no challenge for language teachers, but for content teachers. It needs extra attention. Key language is not limited to technical terms, but general academic terms like: observe, hypothesise or the usage of the past tense with history or passive voice when used in science.”

7.                  Language of instructions
These need teachers to be more careful with short, clear written ones.

8.                  Need for student-student interaction
Students should be given the chance to use the academic language studied through pair work, group work,……..etc.

9.                  Supported student output
Producing both oral and written language requires a CLIL teacher to give a lot of support through sentence starters, substitution table, graphic organizers……………etc.

10.              Cognition --------- Thinking
All these need student engagement both physical and mental.

Then, Aleksandra finally moves to “The What to Teach” after covering the ‘What, Why and How’. She believes that we should speak to subject teachers who can suggest topics to close curricula gaps. She then suggests including Global Issues to inform the students, develop their skills, change attitudes and help them take action. “Science is changing around us greatly with lots of problems.” “The costs of changes and dangers are increasing and that needs more attention.” “We have every reason to include CLIL not only in teaching language (EFL), but throughout the entire education systems.”

She then, discussed a number of topics: Food, Clothes and Waste in details proposing ideas to be used in classes to fulfill the reasons mentioned above. She also suggested these three topics along the lines of SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) of the United Nations and the book compiled by the British Council on ‘The Creative Approach to SDG in an EFL Classroom’.

Eventually, she ended up with a Poetic Conclusion using the poem ‘Teachers’ written by Alan Maley. She asked the audience to read the words in black and she read the blue ones.

To close, she asked the audience to mention one reflection on the Connections, Extensions and Challenges she discussed and asked those who are interested to join her for more discussions in room 3b at 11:05.

How far do you think you can apply CLIL in your class? Would these ideas give a lot of of food for thought !!

You can find the recording of the session on https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/under-one-roof-considerations-integrating-content-language

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An interview with Silvana Richardson at Iatefl 2019

It was a great pleasure meeting Silvana Richardson, Head of Teacher Development, Bell Educational Services at #iatefl2019

Here she gives us   https://youtu.be/NTUa0k87VGw
**The latest news of #NonNativeTeachersAdvocates Call that she started about two years ago. 
**She also gives interesting and important tips for teachers!!
Thank you Silvana Richardson. Hope we meet again so soon 

Stay Tuned for a summary of Silvana's interesting session at Iatefl about Continuing Professional Development Evaluation

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Rudi Camerer at #iatefl2019

Rudi Camerer at #iatefl2019

Here comes Dr. Rudi Camerer 's short interview where he answers the first question: What do you think of the new CEFR changes?
Your comments and questions are welcome 

Stay Tuned for his answer to the second question about Assessment !!
Stay Tuned as well for a short orientation on CEFR and how to apply it in class!!




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Deconstructing Jigsaw Activities _ Jason Anderson

Then came another interesting sessions analyzing Jigsaw activities and their use. Anderson started first by giving a definition of Jigsaw, then a short idea about the history of Jigsaw with its pros and cons. 

  He explained the dynamics of the process in class, then he introduced the jigsaw taxonomy. He divided it into 3 stages:
      ** Input stage                                                        ** The Gap filling
      ** Communication stage
The Input stage is divided into: Test source, Text Type, Text medium written, aural….etc and Text difference. On the other hand, the Communication stage is divided into: (a) Group interaction dynamics (how to get the groups to work together whether f2f or online) and (b)Communication Type: including different suggested ideas for taking the process forward. Check the following links for the Handout and PPP   http://www.jasonanderson.org.uk/downloads/taxonomy_of_jigsaw_activities_for_language_teachers.pdf

Later on, he posed a number of interesting ideas to use jigsaw activities for teaching and practicing grammar
1.                   Divide the students into groups with two different comprehension passages. Ask each group to pose typical of comprehension questions to the other group and those who answer correctly get the points.  Then ask them to pose Synthesis questions and follow the same pattern.
2.                   Divide students into groups. Each group is responsible for a grammatical item, for example: past simple, past perfect, past continuous and time expressions. Each group gives a review of the tense they are assigned. Then mix them into different groups so that each group includes a member of each of the different groups set at the beginning and ask them to write a story, present, discuss and give feedback.

3.                   A third idea: give them a story without articles and ask them to add them in groups and discuss.
4.                   Whole class jigsaw  e.g a story  

5.                   Translingual news Jigsaw. Students are asked to check different kinds of news in their L1. Then they exchange ideas concerning the way the news are presented and biased. This is beneficial if we have students with different nationalities in class. If not, you can make use of bilingual or multilingual students’ knowledge. 

He ended up with advice on how to deal with these idea with students from level A1 to C1.

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Tinned Tomatoes and Divergent Thinking: developing spontaneity, narration and language - Herbert Puchta and Jeremy Harmer


Another interesting quick session came along for both Jeremy Harmer and Herbert Puchta. They discussed the differences between Convergent and Divergent Thinking.

To them Convergent Thinking means

While Divergent Thinking, on the other hand, means thinking outside the box.

Along the session they introduced some interesting practical ideas. They asked the attendees (teachers) to stand up, when they (the speakers) say ‘walk’, teachers walk and stop when they mention the word ‘stop’. Then they reverse things; when they say ‘walk’ teachers  stop and when they say ‘stop’ teachers walk.
They repeated the idea with ‘clap and jump’. Then they did the four together and then reversed the action. Then they added ‘say the name of your country’ and did all of them together again and then reversed them.

They believe that giving the students the chance to play with the language gives them a feeling of ownership. As for you as a teacher: the brain helps you to be creative, thus you survive teaching, and thus you get satisfied and feel good with what you are doing.

Then came a few more nice ideas:
** How many uses can you think of for a tin of tomatoe?
**Put story prompts on the board or screen, the students start adding to them, when they hear the bell, a new prompt is introduced to add to the story and so on……
** Or simply put a story in a different context 
** Put words and ask Ss to make sentences out of them 
** Read a story dramatically and ask them to put a different ending for it.

Then they wrapped up through the following slide ……..

And mentioned that similar ideas can be found in their collaborative book called “Story-based Language Teaching” published by Helbing. 


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Teacher Empowerment: leaving the twilight zone -- First Plenary by Paula Rebolledo

The first day of IATEFL started with Paula Rebolledo standing for teacher empowerment. She said that she started research on that idea in 2009 and tried to follow it up through different conferences, symposiums and webinars. Yet she found that when the word ‘empowerment’ is mentioned, the speakers meant discussing professional development and its importance. She found little interest in the real meaning and started asking: are we using it because it is catchy or because it’s a buzzword used everywhere?


Thus she came to pose two key questions for her plenary: What is teacher empowerment? How can we do it?  Then she stressed the fact that we are in the twilight zone and gave a definition for it, then, mentioned that we proposed it, but we don’t know how to promote it. Thus ‘twilight zone’ represents what we are.

                    "It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light 
                           and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the 
                           summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call.....
                                                                                The Twilight Zone."

Then how can we move from the shadow closer to the light? What do we mean by teacher empowerment and are we truly empowering teachers? Empowering teachers means autonomy to make decisions (McCraw 1992, Short 1992) as well as exercise their professional judgment about how and what to teach (Bolin 1989). Thus she poses the question ‘Can we actually give power to the teachers or could they do it?’ Teachers need a mix of self-initiation plus the support of external factors and here she mentions the six dimensions and stressed the importance of listening to teachers’ voices.

Then she moved the discussion to a research she did. She disseminated a questionnaire where the last two questions concentrated on asking teachers to tell stories about their experiences. Most of the stories were divided between self-efficacy and self-growth as well as autonomy. She came out with the conclusion that teachers are empowered when they learn, share, are able to innovate and when they see that their students are learning.
Thus she gave examples of disengagement stories posing the questions: are your ideas heard and accepted? Do you take decisions regarding class size, schedules and course book sketches and curriculum design? Unfortunately, it is taken for granted that teachers are not to be consulted, they are outsiders, thus in turn she used the term ‘Cosmetic Consultation” proposed by Wedel 2018 which means taking teachers’ opinions through a check list, but your opinion doesn’t finally show up. That’s why teachers feel disempowered when they can’t decide on issues which affect their work, when their expertise is undervalued or ignored.
Due to this teachers don’t trust their expertise and wait for a guru to give them the answer. Yet experts aren’t sometimes careful enough about what they say thus blaming teachers or lowering their morals or efficacy which won’t help much.
Here pops up a very important question” Is guruism disregarding teachers’ voices or may be worse silencing them? Who are we empowering: teachers or gurus? We all created this. Gurus are necessary, we need them, yet do we have the right to question things? “We conform to this reality rather than try to change it because we feel it is hard to achieve.”
Teachers are happy with this small space called the classroom, but teacher empowerment is an all-encompassing term. This is no empowerment.
Thus Paula refers back to the initial questions and wrap up  

She believes we are still in the Twilight Zone, to leave it we need to accept this  

We need to look for it as teachers to be able to have it.

Teachers are used and abused …….. they are hardly empowered!!  They are abused by researchers, gurus, business owners, governmental offices, managers …… etc.
Thus Teachers have to find ways to empower themselves, by joining unions, building unions and doing research themselves. It is important for their professional development as they have the chance to benefit from the practical side in class. Yet we have to keep in mind that we need to support them there as well…. To make it legitimate!!

Teachers are silent because no one wants to hear what they have to say.  If there is one way to empower teachers ….. Please, LISTEN TO US!!



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  You can also watch the whole plenary on this link


      Happy New Iatefl Conference!!

Follow our Blog starting tomorrow Mon April 1, 2019 for the latest updates on IATEFL Conference as usual !!  Happy New Iatefl Conference!!    ;)

Remember to follow IATEFL Online and watch all the plenaries and a selection of talks live via: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/events/IATEFL-Online/2019

You can watch the recordings later on if you are not free on the time of the sessions noted.

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