Cafe CLIL Discussion 10: How can we get teachers collaborating?

Discussion 10: CLIL suggests an integration of subject and language - How can we get teachers collaborating?

(Reporting back on conferences and meetings; discussion on strategies and techniques for encouraging collaboration and integration in teaching and learning.)

10.03.10 (17.00-18.00 Central EU time)

You can listen to the recording of this discussion at this YouTube link.

There has been a discussion on the topic 'To what extent subject teachers are also language teachers' but I'm afraid we had a problem with the technology and lost most the recording. This theme is also aimed at offering the chance to cover some of the ideas which were raised during the 'lost' discussion.

Participants in Café CLIL 10:EW - Egbert Weisheit (Germany)
KK - Keith Kelly (Host, Bulgaria)
LS - Lida Schoen (Holland)
LD'A - Lauretta D'Angelo (Italy)
PR - Peach Richmond (Switzerland)
LS - Luis Strasser (Austria)

Profile of Luis Strasser ( :
Teacher (geography and PE) for 33 Years at Akademisches Gymnasium Innsbruck (AGI). Bilingual Teacher (geography through English) for 12 years at AGI. Several specific education programmes (CLIL) with Do Coyle (Nottingham), Janet Streeter (Carlisle) et al. Developing and establishing the BICEPS (Bilingual Class for Economics, Personal skills and Subject-specific language) concept at AGI (together with colleague Michael Puritscher). Developing and introducing the Certificate Bilingual Geography and Economics at the geography department of the University of Innsbruck (together with colleague Lars Keller)

- CLIL in Italy is predominantly collaboration between subject and language teachers. Teachers in Lauretta D'Angelo's experience were given two hours every week free from teaching. The money for this came from educational funding for ‘innovation’. Sadly, Lauretta reports that this collaboration is now almost extinct in Northern Italy. Reasons being that language teachers see it today as an obstacle to their careers (as language teachers) and subject teachers won't get involved without language teachers!
- Luis Strasser at the Akademisches Gym in Innsbruck offers the example where the language teachers and the subject teachers meet in a CLIL Group on a regular basis.
- Egbert Weisheit reports that in Germany CLIL is the domain of the humanities teachers where colleagues with either Geography or History and who have language rule the 'bilinguale' territory. Nevertheless, there is a large group of Science and Language teachers, numbering over 100 meeting every two years at a conference in this field in Kassel.
- Lida Schoen shares her experience in project work as a stimulus for collaboration between teachers, but she is quick to stress that this kind of collaboration rarely lives beyond the project.
- Peach Richmond describes the situation in Switzerland as being similar to that in Germany where Humanities and Languages tend to be combined. There is no funding for collaborative initiatives like those described in Italy.

There was a comment in the group that I want to share:
'It's a characteristic of CLIL that the language of subject teachers is regularly made a focus for criticism, while language teachers are encouraged to teach subject material even though it is taught at a low level'.
Any opinions on this?
The overall impression of the discussion and feeling of the group is this: CLIL based on collaboration between language teachers and subject teachers is doomed to failure, or at best a short life span.
My own feeling is that Luis' school offers a real hope for colleagues. Where teachers can find a collective voice, as in the Akademisches Gymnasium in Innsbruck, they can put forward requests to school management, for example, time for meeting and discussing CLIL work. It is certainly the kind of structural phenomenon which is essential for CLIL to work and be sustainable over the long term.
PS - there are plenty of examples of 'structures' which work towards the sustainability of CLIL projects. Basque, Asturian, Spanish projects, for example tend to have local education authority sponsorship and support, ongoing in-service training. The Dutch OTT schools, have an embedded training and recognition system which I feel works in favour of CLIL project development. Go to the flags for any of these areas for more information.

The notes and prompts the group were sent were as follows:
CLIL by definition is about integration, yet why is it that there are so few stories of successful collaboration between subject and language teachers?
John Clegg's recent article on onestopclil lays out issues to do with collaboration between language and subject teachers.
My editorial for February 2010 on onestcopclil discusses collaboration as part and parcel of CLIL:
Science Across the World
Translation - often projects are carried out in the mother tongue and then the English teacher and lessons take over where the material for exchange is prepare in the English language, or other language of exchange.
Young Ambassadors for Chemistry - a report on a project bringing teachers together to collaborate on curriculum projects is attached below - final_report_yac.
Though the title of this programme of events was clearly 'Chemistry' in focus, the work, activities, ideas all involved a mixture of teachers, of both Science and language. The subjects and language were also integrated.
Are there tricks and secrets to getting teachers working together? Where it does happen and is successful, what are the ingredients to this success? This discussion will look at this and other similar questions in an attempt to offer steps to follow for colleagues looking for ways and means to successful collaboration in their work.


Attached files