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Networking growth in Swiss CLIL  


I gave a keynote talk and two workshops at the Kanton Schule in Olten on March 29th, 2011.

(There is a link to an article in the regional press about bilingual education at the school with very nice comments from the students undergoing the bilingual courses).


Kanti Olten

Thomas Henzi, welcome
and Renata Leimer

Meetings like these are always about the people, and I was glad to hear Renata Leimer from WBZ CPS in opening the event stress the networking opportunity that the day offered.

This is particularly important in this line of work because there is still such little collaboration between teachers, departments, subject and language and this works against effective implementation of CLIL projects. Of course, there will always be individuals who make things work. I think Ueli Trautweiler (Music in English teacher at the Kanton School in Olten) is one of these people. I couldn't follow everything he said in German in his short presentation on housekeeping and information for the conference, but from what I've found out about immersive education since I was last at this school four years ago, CLIL is up and running, and to the extent that while there was some caution in the air four years ago, it feels now like offering your curriculum to young Swiss through the medium of a foreign language is the most natural thing in the world. It has because normal and Ueli spoke of matura students now opting for doing their final exams through the medium of English at the school.

Ueli Trautweiler making sure I had my coffee, thanks!

Networking in the breaks

Networking is important for Ueli, being the only English-medium music teacher at the event, sharing ideas and good practice is essential to his own work. I made a note of the profile of the participants at the event: 11 Maths, 10 Science, 7 Geography, 13 History, 1 Music, 4 Art, 1 PE, 4 French, 2 German, 10 English.

There were over 70 participants.

They represented schools from all over Switzerland too, and English, French and German medium education were represented, Grammar schools, vocational schools teacher training institutions and others.


I met several other people too.

I met Mary Miltschev and Will Nabholz representing BerufsSchule and responsible for teacher development for teachers at the vocational schools. They are keen to offer CLIL methodology to their body of teachers at some point in the future. I hope we manage to arrange something, I know from visits to Austria that the vocational circuit of schools is a potential growth area for CLIL, it seems that it is also growing in Switzerland.


Renata - housekeeping and information

Workshop 1

I met Daniela (Physics and Maths) who complained of the lack of resources for her subject through the medium of English. She spoke of her students carrying out lab work and then writing up lab reports. We came to an agreement that Daniela would send me 12 corrected lab reports, and I would analyse them with a view to preparing a template structure plus key language for future lab report writing. Am looking forward to that.

I met Sandra, Art and English, again looking for ideas for classroom activities that focus equally on her subject and the language.

Mary Milstchev

Willy Nabholz /

My keynote speech was ‘Principles of CLIL Materials Design’.

I also gave a workshop repeated twice. This meant that I got to talk to all of the participants and then meet almost 50 of the participants who came to the event. My workshop talk was Practice of CLIL Materials Design’.

Both abstracts are available here as well as the PPTs that go with the sessions.



2_ practice_materials_design.ppt




Thanks to Renata for the invitation to come, also to Macmillan for the co-sponsorship and the freebies (VPS Science and Geog, Uncovering CLIL, OSE subscriptions). As usual I ask for contact emails, and I came away with 43 emails. I promised to send on the templates for tasks which I spoke about, but I use this as a ploy, it's also a way I can at least ensure that when I write to the group, it means that they are also all in each other's mailbox, the first step to keeping in touch.


Interaction IS possible in an auditorium!

Workshop 2

It was invigorating to return to the school after 4 years, and to see colleagues host such a significant event for CLIL. Hope they invite me back again in another 4 years time (or before!).