Austria - HTL CLIL Course Module 1
October 13th, 14th and 15th, 2011
The first thing to say about this course is that it takes place under a government which is implementing a programme of legislation to see all HTL schools (HTLs are upper-secondary technical and vocational colleges (for electronics, informatics, construction engineering, etc.) teaching at least 2 hours per week of a content subject or content subjects through the medium of English each year.
The exact details of the scope of this initiative are unclear. It just sounds as though the government is keen to get this up and running, and has broad guidelines at this stage which include schools identifying teachers to do the CLIL, and these teachers will all undergo training to support their work.
My role in this is as a trainer and Moodle moderator. I've been asked to contribute to the ongoing teacher training, as well as moderate the course Moodle platform, and assignments.
What follows is a brief report on the first meeting and the first group.
Anna gets us under way...
Department heads are expected to identify teachers who are able to work through the medium of English, and it is largely these teachers who are targeted for participating in the HTL courses which are being carried out around Austria.
I'm including the course curriculum below which includes 4 modules over two years and which covers the basics of CLIL as well as a number of aspects concerning communicative language learning, text genre, task-based learning, and others, but always with a central focus on the participants creating language focus content materials to try out in their classrooms.
I am hopeless with names, though I try hard to remember them since one of my obsessions is keeping track of colleagues and their work. Hence the simple rhyming names memory game above which led to Statistical Simon, Problem Peter Gregarious Gunter and many others...
Colleague Simon Hibbert contributed to the programme and as a practising teacher of a content subject through the medium of English as a foreign language, he had a lot of valuable insights to offer the teachers on the course.
The teachers looked at interaction in the classroom and exploiting it as a tool for developing communication among students.
Group photo on a sunny October day in Vienna
There was some misunderstanding and lack of information on the part of the teachers as to what is going on at a decision-making level and also as to what exactly is expected of the teachers in their schools. I think the government has a job to do, to keep all well-informed and thereby ensure motivation and commitment on behalf of the teachers.
It can be tricky getting on with CLIL discussion when there are 'global issues' to deal with, and the first post-its feedback is dedicated to the challenges the teachers recognised, and expressed and which I promised to write up and make sure got to colleagues at the PH and the course administrators. Having said that, I wanted to give the participants time to focus on giving some constructive feedback on the course itself and above you can see their encouraging words about the content.
It's very motivating when colleagues do come up and say something about what's been prepared and in this case, there were several teachers who personally commented on different aspects of the course in positive terms. Many thanks!
It should be said also that for many of these teachers this is going to be the first time they have attempted teaching their subjects through the medium of English and so the learning curve is likely to be a steep one for them.
Project assignments varied with the subjects of the colleagues, from supporting discussion in trigonometry ...
... through vocabulary for building design ...
The Moodle platform dedicated to the course, this group and similar around the country is going to play a central role in supporting their work on the project, both in keeping in touch with each other, but also to be able to ask questions and share ideas.
I'm going to be back in the new year to work on Module 2 with this group, and will provide input on their assignments between now and then, and I will come back to contribute to further HTL courses at the PH in Vienna over the next two years. It will be a pleasure to be involved from the word go and to watch how things develop. One thing that has already come about as a result of our meeting, is that I've been invited to visit one of the schools on my next visit, which is always informative, great fun, and useful for the teachers involved because it draws attention to their work in an environment predominantly where CLIL teachers work in isolation and so need as much support as they can get!
... providing visual support to listening on the topic of heat transfer ...
The course programme and a useful document giving the names in English and German the schools and institutions are attached below.