Lithuania - Developing CLIL in Lithuania

CLIL Lithuania, 22-29th April 2006

The British Council ( and the Ministry of Education and Science in Lithuania ( organised a programme of events around the country with a focus on the development of teaching content through the medium of English.

The week began with a focus group meeting of teachers and trainers from institutions around the country looking at ‘the next step’ for the CLIL project in Lithuania.  
Vilma gets the group focused on issues for CLIL in Lithuania…

Lilija reports on Lithuanian CLIL activity so far …

Building on the collation of sample lessons from the network of schools working in CLIL the focus group discussed how to take the project into teacher education at pre- and in-service levels.  The current stage of the project is to close at the end of 2006 with a publication of resources for teachers and trainers showcasing lessons in CLIL at a launch event with international participation.  The focus group discussed how they might make use of the publication as a basis for training programmes in their own institutions.

Suggestions included:
•Writing CLIL curriculum guidelines for one subject and in doing so provide clear guidelines as a model for other subject areas.
•Certification for students working in CLIL recognising work through the medium of English
•Compiling a teacher training pack – (retraining for German/French teachers)?
•The CLIL Lithuania Publication: ◦Writing an introduction with background information on CLIL in the publication
◦Including sample activities in the publication, universal task types, specific guidelines which teachers could apply to any subjects
◦Documenting case studies of experiences in Lithuanian CLIL
◦Providing links to resources
◦Lesson plans and materials as examples

The focus group was to meet up again on Friday this week to consider the results of the feedback from the school visits during the week in the light of the above.

Day two
...took us to Kaunas and the Kalnieciai Secondary School ( where colleagues from the CLIL network delivered two content lessons through the medium of English.  

Kristina gets started on ‘energy’ …

The lessons included a Civics lesson on ‘Refugees and the consequences of war’ from Genute and Daiva and a Geography lesson on ‘Alternative energy’ from Genute and Kristina.  

The teachers from the school in the CLIL project came together with the focus group participants to discuss their own needs and I had the chance to sit and chat with the teachers on the lessons we observed.  The lessons and discussion will form part of the publication of guidelines for teachers and trainers in CLIL in Lithuania.  My congratulations and thanks go to the students and teachers who were willing to have us in their lessons.  It must be quite a disturbing experience to have as many adults as students in the class during an open lesson as well as two cameras filming the process!

Thanks also to headteacher Regina Rackeliene for the school’s hospitality (and ‘tinginees’ cakes!).

Day three
... in Kaunas had teachers from the region and as far away as Vilnius coming together to investigate CLIL and the prospect of getting started themselves back in school.

The key for me, on the basis of the school visits and lesson observations, was to focus the teachers on the language demands of their own given subjects.  We carried out tasks which had teachers consider what the core language of text was, how to draw it out of a text and provide some framework for processing the language for the learners.  

Colleagues examine variation in their group… Supertasters...

There are lots of examples of this type of activity and language investigation at the FACTWorld ( website behind the UK flag in the NILE LAC course description.  Please write to me if your interested in more information about this.

There was another lesson to observe today on ‘Mass Media’ and delivered in two languages by Romualdas and Rimantas.  

Again, the lesson was filmed and will form part of a collection of materials which we hope will build into the beginnings of a teacher training programme with the collaboration of several training institutions in Lithuania.
On Wednesday we travelled to Siauliai to visit the Didzdvario Gymnasium ( to be welcomed by director Vidas Bacys.  

The school has been approved as an International Baccalaureate school and Rima is working on coordinating training for her colleagues to be able to deliver their curriculum in English.  A group of them are planning to come to NILE in the summer for two weeks language development and CLIL methodology.
The first class was a double history lesson on the origins of the First World War with Vidas and Kristina …
… preparing arguments …

With over 1100 students the school was a busy place and the students weren’t phased by our visit.  
… laying down the rules for a debate …

… language support for Maths … and lesson two was a Maths lesson on trigonometry.  

It’s very refreshing that a school should open its doors like this and have its teachers filmed and open to scrutinising.  Personally, I think they did a cracking good job and wish them all the best with their new venture.  I plan to try and help as much as I can.  If any of you are interested in finding out about how the school is doing in its work as an English medium state school in Lithuania, you can contact Rima on. She’s also in the factworld yahoogroup.

Day two in Siauliai was for teachers but with another Maths lesson.  
Here Aiste got the students, 13 year olds, to carry out tasks on geometry which lead to a presentation of their work.  Students measured the area and perimeter of their left foot, created a story based on geometry and created geometry crosswords and then presented their work to their classmates.  
It was a pleasure to be able to sit in a watch and I have to say as a language teacher that the presentations of the learners were astounding in what was only their second lesson in Maths in English. 

The school arranged for us to interview some of the students to record their opinions on English-medium education and the views were from year 10 and 11 students, most good, some cautious.

Over the rest of the day, I worked with 20 teachers from around Siauliai and beyond on getting started in CLIL.  

The background of the teachers was varied and so were their views on this area of innovation in education in Lithuania.
… testing speed reactions in the group …
We talked a lot about the use of MT in the classroom and I played a clip from Aiste’s maths lesson where learners prepared in Lithuanian and presented in English.  The results speak for themselves.

The feedback from the teachers revealed that they were hungry for more input on CLIL, more opportunities to network with each other, and that they were keen to get started in their schools.

… working on reading tasks …
It’s a shame to have to leave, I could quite happily sit in on Siauliai classes, and talk to students and teachers about their experiences for a while longer yet.  Hope I get the chance to return.

Friday, last day, Vilnius.

Today the focus group was brought back together after the week of school visits, with ideas about the project publication, the launch conference in December (December 8th) and to discuss the theme of training for CLIL in Lithuania.

In short, we identified what we have and what we need to make these things happen.  People came forward offering their skills where they thought they could.   

… needs and resources…
The main outcomes of the discussion with the group were as follows:

- to write a publication outlining CLIL in Lithuania, good practice, and ideas and materials for teachers getting started in CLIL
- to run a conference to launch the publication with a Lithuanian audience, but with some international participation.  
- The Ministry of Education and Science has earmarked funds for the publication (editorial work group and publishing) and for the conference for local participation
- The British Council has allocated funds for the international participation at the conference
- colleagues from 4 training institutions have been brought together into a working group to develop training for CLIL in Lithuania

I’m going to be helping colleagues as much as I can and it’s encouraging that the Ministry is now talking about moving beyond this stage into CLIL teacher training, into curriculum designing, into certification for learners of CLIL.  The collating of the materials, writing the background on CLIL in Lithuania, the organisation of the conference all of this lies ahead.  I’m exhausted but very satisfied with the week.  The partnership between the British Council, the Ministry and colleagues from the training institutions is impressive and bodes well for the sustainability of the work in CLIL in Lithuania.