Cafe CLIL Discussion 15: Two Languages in the CLIL Classroom

Discussion 15: Two languages in the classroom

This discussion revolves around the issue of dealing with more than one language in the CLIL classroom. It's a theme which is chosen specifically to contrast with a total immersion approach.

12.01.11 (17.00-18.00 Central EU time)

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

Latest visitors to Café CLIL :

KK - Keith Kelly (Bulgaria - Host)
PT - Patti Trimborn (Spain)
WA - Wendy Arnold (UK)
Liz McMahon - (Qatar)
John McMahon - (Qatar)
Phil Brabbs - (Qatar)
Egbert Weisheit - (Germany)
Noreen Caplen-Spence - (Qatar)
Phil Ball - (Spain)

Pre-conference prompts given to participants:
- Monolingual-cultural versus multilingual-cultural classrooms (similarities and differences)
- Ideals and realities (it will be interesting to hear some of your experiences, stories, about multiple languages in your classroom histories)
- Time and space for the two languages in the classroom (questions of management and prioritizing)
- Student profiling and monitoring (feeding back learner information into teaching and how this is influenced by levels of two languages)
- Published materials for two language approaches (I think there is very little available which goes beyond vocabulary lists and MT -mother tongue- explanations but would be pleased to see any materials you have which offers more to two language development than translating words and gives instructions in MT.
- Differentiation - It might be fruitful for us to explore differentiation since there are likely to be many languages levels in any one CLIL classroom.

Summary of the discussion and comments on the main points.
(NB - While I do my best to be loyal to what is in the recording, I do paraphrase for brevity.)

The theme ‘Two languages in the classroom’ came from a message in the FACTWorld discussion list in yahoogroups, from Teresa Ting, who refers to among other things an article from Lasagabaster and Sierra where CLIL is placed alongside Immersion in order to show the similarities and differences.
- Immersion has never been CLIL… while the Canadian model has become a standard, the article is right to draw the distinctions it does.
- What we have to do in our training is to set out some ground rules, … it’s not whether you can or can’t work with two languages, it’s more about the best way to manage the two languages.
- If you’re resorting to L1, it’s not necessarily a coherent policy. There have to be ground rules. There has to be classroom management behind ‘resorting to’.
- The important thing is awareness of learning and of language, knowing when the L1 is being used, when, and how and why.
- We need to discriminate between learner use of L1 and teacher use of L2. We use a diagram with concentric circles. English for interaction (BICS) on the outside of the circle, moving into the heart of the circle (CALP), we encourage using L2 for low-risk language, but when they get into the heart of the circle where it is more high-risk, teachers are encouraged to work in L1 when necessary. It’s to do with teacher perceptions of when learning is taking place.
- You have to group students strategically. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for students to work through an L2 task in the L1, as long as the product is in the L2. They’ll be using the L1 to get to the L2.
- It depends what you want the students to know, and what you want them to do. If you have a clear view of this, then it’s easier to have a coherent policy on translanguaging.
- The problem in Germany mirrors this discussion. In Germany we have mostly language teachers entering CLIL teaching with their second subject. Language teachers are the greatest number, subject teachers are in the minority. The language is the minor aspect of the lesson for the content bilingual teacher.
- According to the literature on multiple literacies, it’s ok for example for group work to be carried out in the L1, but I’m not sure I agree completely as a large part of what we want is students to be using the L2 for learning, and that’s what is going to be going on in the group work.
- We have to bear in mind the age at which CLIL is introduced. In very early primary, there is no need to focus on vocabulary in L1 because there is no significance in the L1 with early learners, as all their word meanings are there in English.
- If the assessment of the students is in the target language, then the teaching has to be in the L2, but if it’s in the L1, then compromising on the L1 can be problematic.
- There is no evidence (here in the Basque Country) to suggest that beginning concepts in the foreign language has a negative effect on learner understanding in the L1.    ROSA MARÍA JIMÉNEZ CATALÁN reviews research which backs this.
- Andy Kirkpatrick’s article states ‘it is a myth that the best way to learn a foreign language is to use it as a medium of instruction’. The article also says ‘Students have to develop their L1, before they can do anything in L2’. There is mixed reaction to these statements, but the consensus was that this may be applicable to Hong Kong but shouldn’t be generalized for other contexts.
- I agree that it depends a lot on the educational culture. In places where they have adopted group work, graphic organizers, etc, it has worked. Yes, there is a concern from parents, that Ss won’t learn the language in Spanish, but a recommendation there is to integrate the two languages more. The culture and attitude towards language and learning exert a huge influence.

Links and references for multiple languages in the classroom

- Translanguaging in the Bilingual Classroom: A Pedagogy for Learning and Teaching?
The Modern Language Journal 94 (2010) (pp 113-115)
Note – knowledge and skills are interdependent across languages

- Learning English and Other Languages in Multilingual Settings: Myths and Principles
Oct 2009
Hong Kong Institute of Education
Note – It’s a myth that ‘the best way to learn a second language is to use it as a medium of instruction’

- Teaching for Cross-Language Transfer in Dual Language Education: Possibilities and Pitfalls
Jim Cummins
TESOL Symposium on Dual Language Education: Teaching and Learning Two Languages in the EFL Setting (Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, September 23, 2005)
Note – dismisses the ‘two solitudes assumption’

- Immersion and CLIL in English: more differences than similarities
David Lasagabaster and Juan Manuel Sierra
ELT Journal Volume 64/4 October 2010;
Oxford University Press
Note – CLIL is not the same as immersion

- TIMELINES AND LIFELINES: Rethinking Literacy Instruction in Multilingual Classrooms
Jim Cummins | Vicki Bismilla | Sarah Cohen | Frances Giampapa | Lisa Leoni
o r b i t , V o l 3 6 , N o 1 , 2 0 0 5 (pp 22-26)
Note - Translation plays a central role for story writing drafted in any language of choice and rewritten in a second language with support.