Cafe CLIL Discussion 09: Supporting Talk in Content Subjects
Discussion 09: Supporting Talk in Content Subjects
(Reporting back on conferences and meetings; discussion on strategies and techniques for supporting talk in the CLIL classroom)
11.12.09 (17.00-18.00 Central EU time)
You can listen to the recording of the discussion at this YouTube link.
Participants in Café CLIL 09:EW - Egbert Weisheit (Germany)
KK - Keith Kelly (Host, Bulgaria)
AZ - Alexandra Zaparucha (Poland)
LS - Lida Schoen (Holland)
Minutes from Café CLIL 09
We were glad to be joined by Ola Zaparucha from Poland not just because she's a good friend and colleague, but also because she teaches Geography in English and she teaches English. All this among the many other things Ola does means that she was a welcome contributor to the discussion.The theme for this Café CLIL was on 'talking' and we took a number of pages from a Geography textbook, see below, to focus our discussion.The 50 minutes seemed to be over before we could get started and we covered a lot of ground. Main issues which arose were:
- Textbooks don't encourage talking in the classroom. Ola made the good point that textbooks themselves rarely 'force' speaking through their activities. If this is the case, then it means that the teacher will have to introduce the talk element themselves.
- Teachers don't encourage talking in the classroom. The group was in broad agreement that there is a tendency for teachers to 'lead from the front'. Learners will only learn how to talk by talking.
- We talked about use of the mother tongue. Lida made the point that sometimes MT talk is necessary so that learners can deal with the concepts in their 'easiest' language.
- There is an issue in much CLIL that is teacher themselves often lack confidence in their own language abilities.
- Egbert described how some of his trainee teachers who have a subject specialism as well as a foreign language 'behave' differently in the content classroom and in the language classroom.
- Lida stressed that all teachers are language teachers whatever their subject and I mentioned the Bullock report from the UK in the 1970s famous for this message (complete text)
- It may need training for teachers to become aware of what it means to 'talk', to communicate in their subject. Even among our small group, there was debate on this issue, to what extent the subject teacher working in English is also a language teacher. This is a big issue and one I think we will come back to in another discussion.
- There are simple ways of creating talk in the classroom.
- There was agreement that publishers don't produce materials for the content CLIL market and this means that teachers largely import native speaker books. Egbert suggested that much of the content doesn't 'translate' into the local language and there was discussion about whether the content in one country is exportable to another.
- The discussion ended with Lida's suggestion that a website for 'communication in the curriculum' would be a good focus for an EU project. So, watch this space!
- I mention Exploratory Talk in Science at the ASE conference in the UK from Stuary Scott and colleagues (http://www.collaborativelearning.org/) this is a good sign of things to come, namely language as a focus in a subject teachers' conference.
Creating talk in the classroom - ideas with links to examples were: - info searches (example template for making your own is attached below) - looped questions (example) - paired talking (info gap images, texts, diagrams - example) - supported presentation work (Ss using PPT templates with embedded language - example) - 'find someone who', survey work in the classroom (Peter Watcyn-Jones) - supporting Ss' talking in Q and A sessions (using model phrases, phrase posters, sentence starters...)
The discussion took a set of specific content materials from Geography as a focus and context for our discussion. Climate Change is a good topic since our discussion was at the same time as the Copenhagen Meeting on Climate Change.