Hungary - V4 CLIL Conference

V4 CLIL Conference, Budapest
Károli Gáspár University of the Hungarian Reformed Church
June 10, 2006
A report by Maria Pákozdi
V4 - The abbreviation stands for the Visegrad countries ( Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary) and the conference was sponsored by the International Visegrad Fund ( ).
CLIL - The word stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning:"CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focussed aims, namely the learning of content, and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language.” (David Marsh, 1994)
The overall aim of the conference was to enhance CLIL education and co-operation in the region by providing a forum for it, disseminating adaptable practices and innovative ideas and promoting international networking of CLIL schools, which may lead to common projects. The conference also aimed to raise participants‘ awareness of the achievements, the similarities and the ease of understanding among institutions in the region and it also fostered a sense of belonging.
  Masaryk University in Brno(,
  Žilina University in Žilina (,
  Pedagogical University of Cracow (

Dr Danica Lauková presented the CLIL situation in Slovakia. CLIL or bilingual secondary schools or rather sections of existing schools were set up centrally in 1990 with foreign partners contributing to teaching materials, training and staffing. The variety of target languages is balanced and science subjects are preferred to be taught in the foreign language. An extra year for language preparation is provided. We also heard about an IVF project with selected schools, where students from V4 countries study general topics in English and the national topics in the mother tongue.

Dr Mariusz Misztal was talking about the lack of language teachers in Poland and the very small number of CLIL schools (cca. 20). However, a new international educational project, Educational Gate, aims at setting up European Regional Colleges for students between 6-19 and the language of instruction in numerous subjects will be English.

Ivana Slezakova from the Czech Republic presented the way she teaches computer skills for 13-15-year old students, who are at an elementary level in English and therefore quite some time needs to be devoted to learning the language during the subject lesson. She mentioned the problem of having Czech language computer programmes at school, but luckily, they will be replaced next year by new computers with programmes in English and the room will also be equipped with an interactive whiteboard.

Ilona Hudák from Szabó Lőrinc Bilingual  School, Budapest reflected on the issues raised by the guest speakers and presented Hungarian bilingual education.

In the lunch break conference participants had a chance to look at the books Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press brought to the conference and to try to persuade them to invest in CLIL coursebooks.
In the afternoon students of the CLIL Research Group at Károli University, Fanni Hegedűs, Krisztina Burján and Emese Péter presented their baseline study, which they carried out in 7 schools using the research tools of questionnaires, interviews and lesson observation. Their main findings were three-fold.

The results suggest that the most popular subjects taught in the foreign language are the ones which can be classified as intercultural studies (history, geography and target culture civilization). Students are exceptionally motivated to study through the FL and for the majority it was their own choice at the age of 14 to study at a bilingual school.
Students do not perceive the lack of English language teaching materials in Hungary because their enthusiastic teachers provide them with tailor-made handouts, which implies a lot of devotion on the teachers’ part.

Students find speaking and understanding the most difficult at subject lessons in the FL. They also feel that their Hungarian spelling and orthography suffers a bit from the excessive use of the FL. Karoli students said they would go on researching bilingual education in Hungary in September, 2006.
Stefka Kitanova from Bulgaria introduced conference participants to some European CLIL projects, whose outcome assist CLIL teachers’ day-to-day work. Beside mentioning the CLIL Quality Matrix and CLILCOM ( the multimedia tool for individual teachers to develop their competences in CLIL), she explained what Factworld and Science Across the World can offer, eg. publications, a discussion list and an exchange of ready-made teaching materials as a result of language and subject teachers’ cooperation. She also mentioned a learning phrasebook now being compiled by two CLIL experts, John Clegg and Keith Kelly. The phrasebook will list and explain the necessary terms of each subject or study field.

Danica Gondova from Slovakia raised several issues which could be researched and become the focus of future projects. For example, how do CLIL students acquire competences such as the communicative, the intercultural and the subject competences? What are the needs of CLIL teachers? Subject teachers need some of the skills of language teachers, e.g. developing reading and writing skills, identifying language needs, vocabulary teaching skills, dictionary skills and methodological skills: interactive teaching skills for meaningful learning and a humanistic approach where affective principles are taken into consideration. How can we make sure that learners accept the fact that their CLIL teachers may not always speak flawless English? How and when is it necessary to interfere with learners’ language and focus on language accuracy so that learners really make progress?

At the discussions conference participants elaborated on their viewpoints concerning these issues. We agreed that more time is necessary for learning the subject matter if it is done in the FL or we have to select the core of the material and make sure that students learn it. In another viewpoint we simply need another syllabus for subjects taught in the FL. To top it all, we insist on meaningful learning according to modern pedagogy, which is even more time-consuming than traditional rote-learning. Most of us were very enthusiastic about CLIL education sharing the view that it is very motivating for both students and teachers and that it has reached very good results so far. Some of us, though, thought that CLIL is just one of the ways language education can achieve better results and we should not forget to improve language teaching in the language lessons.

To sum it up, we saw our own practice from completely different standpoints and we got an insight into how CLIL can be shaped by different contexts. Several achievements and Internet sources were disseminated and new international and national links between schools were initiated. Conference participants were invited to the existing CLIL Yahoo discussion list of the Károli CLIL Research Group and several of them have already joined the international group. Further visits and common projects are foreseen between partners and a publication about the conference is to come out in August to be distributed among schools, authorities and professional organisations in the Visegrad countries.