Netherlands - Masterclass for bilingual Geography and Science

Masterclass for bilingual Geography and Science
Creative teaching for Geography and Science

I did a day of workshops recently for Loes Coleman of Radboud in’to Languages, onderdeel van de Faculteit der Letteren
Many thanks to Macmillan for contributing some nice freebies including copies of my Science and Geography Vocabulary resources and a copy of Uncovering CLIL and also a free subscription to onestopclil.
Ravenstein, Oct 16th, 2009

The workshop was held at the lovely former nunnery at Ravenstein ( We had 26 Geography and Science teachers from all over Holland come to join us for the day. One colleague even made the trip over from Germany (glad you came Pete!).
I was particularly willing to do this workshop with this group of teachers because I'd heard a lot about the network of some 100 bilingual schools around Holland. These are schools which have a tradition for teaching some of the curriculum through the medium of English.

I did have the feeling though that there may be little I could do which a group like this didn't already know.
Workshop programme

Loes and I agreed on a programme which was divided into four sections.

In session 1 I laid out my own perspective on CLIL. I've said this many times, and at the risk of boring some of you will say it again, CLIL is about knowing what language needs the students have and then doing something about it within a given subject. The rest, well that's Geography, or Science. Session 2 looked at identifying this language in different subjects. Session 3 focused on task design and the last Session 4 looked at networks and resources available for integrating content and language. It was a broad agenda, perhaps too busy in hindsight. You need a week at least to get fully to grips with all the issues above.
Our coordinator, Loes Coleman, gets us under way.
I can still remember their names. Mountain Maarten, sadly, had to leave early.

Session 1
Introduction: What is CLIL? (PPT download 2mb). Colleagues considered various dimensions for learning and we discussed the need for a focus on language as a separate dimension in CLIL/bilingual education. This was contextualised with an activity where colleagues discussed a subject task and predicted the language demands and wrote down specific phrases learners would need to produce in order to be able to carry out the task correctly.
Session 2 looked at the language of content learning.

I'm going to be delivering a Webinar for Macmillan on this very theme:
"Integrating content and language - which language?
Colleagues working together on producing a chart to accompany a reading text in Session 2: CLIL Task Design. My feeling is that CLIL teachers have a good understanding of 'structure' of texts, can produce charts, diagrams or other scaffold to guide learners through the reading of a content text. Some books do offer a large amount of this guidance. Geography books can tend (UK in particular) to have a lot of this structuring of reading. In a foreign language, it makes the work more efficient, the content more transparent and the learning more effective if reading is guided in this way. Of course, the opposite is equally true!    
Other colleagues worked on tables, substitution tables based on texts with a view to supporting speaking and / or writing on a topic.    
Substitution tables can be used for supporting writing / speaking simple sentences, for writing / speaking paragraphs and as part of a frame can support whole text / specific genre writing / speaking.
We also carried out a number of interactive speaking and reading activities. These included question loops, information searches and we took a look at how PowerPoint presentations can be embedded with language and offered as handouts to support production in student presentation work.  There are plenty of these types of tasks appearing on There are more coming online with each upload.    
Do you know what a gorilla does when it's angry?

John Clegg and I have been working for months, if not years now, on materials which provide this language embedded within specific content tasks. The book we've produced is still looking for a publisher, so if you're interested, give us a call / get in touch.
The point about language support like this is that for those students who need it, it gives them the language they need to succeed in the content task.
Ravenstein gardens

The last session, Session 4: Networks and Resources, offered an overview of what has been going on in CLIL around the world in recent years, and examples from these contexts from my own personal experiences.    

The colleagues were very nice to me and said some very encouraging things as we said our goodbyes.

You have to admire teachers who on top of a full teaching load decide, 'hey, let's do it in a foreign language!' They decide this even though it means that they have to get their foreign language up to a Cambridge Proficiency level, they have to put in all the prep that is involved with teaching their subjects, finding the resources, supporting their learners in all the many ways they need it. These colleagues have all signed up to the FACTWorld network and you can find out more about their work, their subject teaching through the medium of the English language, you can do this by writing to them there at the factworld yahoogroup.

I usually get a little carried away when I'm working with a group of teachers like these. I can tend to embarrass colleagues with my enthusiasm for their work. This group took all that in their stride. When I said if they invite me back to their school, I'll come, I meant it. Will bring my camera, collaborate on classes, whatever ... just to be that fly on the classroom wall and see the Dutch doing their CLIL (if any of you read this and consider inviting me,

Best of success to you all!

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