Cafe CLIL Discussion 08: Skills for CLIL: Reading

Discussion 08: Skills for CLIL: Reading
(Reporting back on conferences and meetings; discussion on strategies and techniques for developing reading skills in the CLIL classroom)
28.10.09 (17.00-18.00 Central EU time)

You will be able to listen to the recording of the discussion at this YouTube link.

Visitors to Café CLIL 8:
BM - Bernd Morlock (Germany
KK - Keith Kelly (Host, Bulgaria)
JC - John Clegg (UK)
LD'A - Lauretta D'Angelo (Italy)
LS - Lida Schoen (Holland)
LD - Lyubov Dombeva (Bulgaria)
PR - Peach Richmond (Switzerland)

Summary of discussion points:
I gave a short introduction of 'Things to think about' to guide our initial discussion, but as usual we go off in the most interesting direction. My suggestions were:
- When faced with reading in a textbook what works best for students working in a content subject through the medium of English as a foreign language?
- What do teachers and students usually do when faced with text?
- What could we produce which may be of use / help to teachers and learners who have a lot of reading to do in their (FL-medium) content textbooks?
            - We can produce steps / guidelines for dealing with text.
            this can be procedures, systems, from warm up to productive task
            - We can give list of suggestions for tasks.
            - We can suggest places to look for further ideas and resources.
What works best / what do colleagues and students do?
LD - The word went first to Lyubov as she has actually used the material given here below in her Biology class and Lyubov described what she last did with this content text. She offered a table at the board for the students to read as a class and then fill in together.
PR - Told of an experiment he tried with an 11th class in English where the students were presented with the text and Peach observed how they managed with it. Their approach was bottom-up discussing unknown words together to get an understanding of the meanings of whole sentences.
LD'A - Compared the texts with the same level and content in an Italian Biology textbook and it is practically the same.
LS - Pointed out the high content density, the level of abstract information in the texts and asked LD if this was a problem.
KK - Described the lesson from LD where the material originated. LD had presented students with a diagram of the core content in the table on the board. There is agreement that this organization is very important for students working through a foreign language (and in MT).
JC - Pointed out that it is rare to find teachers who use diagrams to guide reading. It is very rare to find tasks that guide you through the organization of ideas in the text in most subject textbooks in the first language. We all agreed.
JC Quotation:
'If you get students to learn these skills, these study skills, like the study skills of reading when they approach the subject in the second language, your job is huge isn't it. Whereas if the school has taught these skills in the first language, they transfer very easily to working in the second language and teaching through the medium of the second language is so much easier if the students approach it with these study skills already there in the first language.'
KK - There is an invitation to publishers and exams and course service providers like IB to actually do something about this problem and begin to provide attention to language and support for dealing with text in their materials and exams.
LD - Materials are mentioned where there is already attention given to language in content.
JC - There is a lot publishers can do but it's possibly a question of markets.
KK - Asks if there are other ways of dealing with text like this.
LD - Described paired reading with the same text and students talk about the texts and fill in the diagrams together and then they report back to the class.
KK - Suggested that students could be asked to deal with just one part of the text and then feed back to the class so that as a whole class the table or other diagram is filled in as a whole class.
LS - Questioned the abstract nature of the material and the lack of relation with the real lives of students having to read it.
KK - Mentioned the Science and Technology in Society (SATIS) in the UK where the focus is on linking Science and Technology with the lives of young people.
JC - Suggested a focus on a productive skill, a productive skill for a future discussion in Café CLIL.
BM - We need to encourage students to use top-down strategies.
JC - Asked how many teachers are using these strategies.
LS - Played Devil's advocate and suggested 90% of teachers only use what's in the textbook, and so around only 10% of teachers are producing supplementary materials to support learning.
PR - Suggested that teachers working with migrant children are more aware of language needs in the curriculum. There is agreement that this is the same in all countries participating in this discussion.
- Danson C (undated) Supporting students' reading skills in Science: Language and Science, Leicester Section XI Service
This is a photocopy resource which is probably not available through bookshops, but is exactly a resource aimed at supporting reading in Science classrooms. Though it may not be available to buy, it is an example of what local authority support services produce in the UK. Some of these services do sell their DIY resources.
Hounslow is one of them:
- There is an entire series of Science resource books aimed at providing language support in Science available at the Association for Science Education website (
An example is given here:
Philips K (1999) Supporting Secondary Science series, Living Things, ASE UK
- Wellington and Osborne are well known for their DARTS (directed activities related to text) aimed at supporting learners needing language support in Science:
Wellington J & J Osborne (2001) Language and Literacy in Science Education
Open University Press
- I contributed to a multiple language publication in Lithuania which has a section on reading in CLIL:
Language Support - Reading
Kelly K et al (2006) Content and Language Integrated Learning, Lietuvos Respublikos Svietimo Ir Mokslo Ministerija
(book available as pdf download here below) 
 - Books written for prep classes in Bulgaria Grammar Schools
Geography Supplementary Book for the Preparatory 8th Class Lilyana Grozdanova, Lettera, Bulgaria, 1999, ISBN: 9545162341
Biology Supplementary Book for the Preparatory 8th Class Maria Georgieva, Lettera, Bulgaria, 1999, ISBN: 954516235X
 - Richmond / Santillana materials published for Spanish schools
 - SATIS, Science and Technology in Society, UK


Attached files

Lithuania CLIL Book