Austria - HTL CLIL English Teachers Course Traunkirchen

CLIL English teachers' course - Equipping English teachers for CLILTraunkirchen
October 18th and 19th, 2011

I had met Hans Kloibhofer previously at a training event in Linz and when he approached me to return to carry out some training for his colleagues, I readily agreed. I had in the back of my mind the memory of the colleagues being very eager to discuss teaching vocational subjects through the medium of English, and was sure that I'd be met with more debate, issues, challenges of the same stimulating Austrian variety.

This time the event was organized specifically for English teachers who work alongside the content teachers in the HTL schools (HTLs are upper-secondary technical and vocational colleges (for electronics, informatics, construction engineering, etc.) and the theme of the two-day workshop was 'Equipping English teachers for CLIL' but there was an overriding thread which was 'how to get content and language teachers collaborating'.
Hans Kloibhofer, Keith Kelly and Andreas Baernthaler
Pumpkin streudel was also very welcome on the menu!

The location was the usual breathtaking scene I've become accustomed to in Austria, in the beautiful village of Traunkirchen surrounded by jagged mountains and sitting as it does by the side of a lake, and we had sunshine for the duration.
Group photo on a sunny October day by the lake in Traunkirchen

I tend to plan too much for the sessions. This was the case in Traunkirchen, but we quickly found a solution, and that was to turn the relationship around and with my asking the colleagues what they would like to achieve from the two days input and adapt what I had prepared to meet their needs.

There was a good deal of discussion about the reasoning behind the training, as the title 'Why are we here?' sat on the screen for all to ponder. In actual fact, a meeting of English teachers working alongside content teachers in the HTL schools is a timely and essential first step in developing collaboration between language and content departments. As well as clarifying the current policy situation in Austria (thanks to Andreas Baernthaler for being with us to explain the details) which means that all HTL schools will have at least 2 hours per week in a content subject from year 3 through the medium of English. As far as I understand the situation, the current year one, will nationally go English-medium in a subject or subjects chosen by the school when the students reach year 3, and from then on each subsequent year group will follow with English-medium CLIL classes.
The cauliflower soup was delicious!

As it was, I'd been sent 4 textbooks from HTL curriculum areas to help with my preparation for the workshop (Business and management, Human Resources, Physics, Basic Electronics for Inventors - a thrilling summer reading list if ever there was one!). I had also spent some time reading the books, scanning for ideal content areas to work with for developing specific language skills, and with some of the content had managed to draft activities which a) highlight core language, and / or b) practice language embedded within the content.
The chestnut and plum rum mousse was unforgettable!

My aim was to get the teachers working in small groups to discuss a) and b) above share as a group and look at what I'd managed to do myself. I wasn't entirely sure how this would go down with the group as it can be fairly intensive a task and to get teachers doing 4 of them as well as deliver the rest of the programme... well, there was a risk of burn-out. As it was, the teachers all being language teachers were much more creative than I had been and made a wide range of creative suggestions, which I transcribed into a word doc for this purpose.

This word document will form the basis of the collection of ideas which Andreas and I will edit between us. We've unofficially given ourselves a deadline of the CEBS conference in Bad Hofgastein in October 2012 to have a finished publication.
Another objective we achieved was to set up and add colleagues to a discussion group for the growing community of teachers in Austria involved in CLIL. I rant on and on about how teachers need to be connected with each other in order to avoid reinventing the wheel every lesson, share ideas and resources and keep abreast of what is going on in their subject at home and in other countries working through English. As we said at the time, the group is now up and running with these 20 participants, we just have to wait and see how active and useful it will actually become. The group is housed at yahoogroups, and is called HTL_ELTs (
The first follow up task was to upload all of the course presentations and handouts as well as some resources which were simply used as examples to the files folders in the I'll try and place the same resources in, so if you're interested you can take a look.
Second, I promised to write up the activities notes, and send updates to the group along with tasks so that the colleagues could contribute with suggestions, edit, correct, delete where they felt fit. In short, we have an editorial team of 20 for the HTL CLIL Guidelines book. Watch this space!