Countries :: Estonia

Estonia - CLIL Fusion 2008
Estonia - CLIL Fusion 2008

A personal perspective on the CLIL conference in Tallinn, Estonia October 24th-25th, 2008

The conference began on Friday morning and the first impression I had was the wonderful networking opportunity it provided.
During registration and coffee I met with Sandra Lucietto from Italy, Rosa Aliaga from the Basque country, Do Coyle from the UK, Alexandra Zaparucha had a poster presentation about her work in Poland as well as a new book coming out soon on Geography teaching in Poland through the medium of English.
You can find out more at .

I also talked with colleagues from Italy about a potential visit there in March 2008, two colleagues in Trento, another from Sardignia and we all talked about the upcoming CLIL conference in Milan in March 2008.

I travelled to the conference with the team from Macmillan with local rep Finn Kirkland and as we arrived they went off to the Macmillan stand.  I arrived a little later to find that they had a large amount of material for the CLIL products Macmillan offer including the VPS series for Science and a sample for the new Geography VPS book and CD as well as information about the onestopclil website and Uncovering CLIL book.
When the conference started, David Marsh and Peter Mehisto introducing the theme of ‘fusion’.
Peeter Mehisto and David Marsh get the show on the road

Hugo Baetens Beardsmore presented research results from around Europe which put CLIL students a tad ahead of the rest.
We also had a video welcome note from the Estonian Minister of Education.
Hugo Baetens Beardsmore

Fred Genesee talked about lessons from 40 years of immersion experience in Canada.
Fred Genesee

Michael Ullman – Presented as a scientist about the brain and second language learning. I was sure that what I was listening to was important, but am afraid it went straight over my head so I'll never know.

Declarative and procedural memory systems, they interact, but are very different (quick v long term)
Had lunch with Macmillan colleagues and discussed the onestopclil system. Now it's up and running, it'll speed up, accumulate more and more and get better and better.

1. The first session I attended was a presentation by Antroulla Papakyriakou. She spoke about CLIL at University level in Nicosia, 'Adjunct CLIL' she called it.These talks were all 20 mins short. Chaired by Phil Ball.

2. Penelope Robinson spoke about a TESOL prog for young learners at Leeds University, talked about EAL in the UK, said she is interested in trying to find out what is distinctive about CLIL methodology, what in practice it actually means, and whether or not there could be more integration of the content and the language.Some points I noted of interest: 
- 20% of learners in mainstream schools are speakers of EAL.
- Penelope used the acronym ‘CLBT’ content and language based teaching to refer to CLIL.
- Penelope's observations based on visits to schools in 6 countries in Europe (she didn't say which):
Integration is not planned
Focus is on subject learning
Learning of language incidental
BICS but not CALP
- Conclusion that focus on language is a good thing, that it is essential and that CLIL can learn from EAL methodology in the UK in this respect.
If anybody wants to find out more about Penelope's work, they can contact her at:

3. Alexandra Zaparucha spoke about teaching geography through english in Poland. There is clearly masses of interesting things going on in CLIL geography in Poland, keep an eye on this!  It's the real thing! Ola, as she is known, is both an English teacher, a geography teacher, and also a teacher of geography through English – worth her weight in gold for CLIL, lucky Poland!
Ola started doing projects in English first of all, but quickly saw opportunities for transfer of skills, language and content across the curriculum.
You can find a lot about her work and the work of other geographers in Poland as well as information about books they have written at

Ola concluded with the story of how parents were initially confused as to why their children would be doing presentations work in their classes in Geography in English, why they weren’t taking notes from lessons given by Ola. Ola asked how many of the parents would be happy to get up and stand and talk in front of the group in a foreign language.  No hands were raised. Case closed.
Anybody wanting to contact Ola can do so at:
4. Eva Poisel and John Feltham then talked about ‘Unleashing learner’s potential in CLIL’, but I then moved focus group and went to see a presentation by a group of colleagues from Austria… which actually asked students what they thought about doing their studies through the medium of English as a foreign language. In the corridor I met Francesca Vidal from Barcelona ( who told me off for not ever coming to work with them on their CLIL projects in Catalonia. Sorry Francesca, ask me once more, I promise I'll come!

Friday night was reception at a reception house in the old town of Tallinn. Dancing, music, food, awards.

Saturday, 25th Oct
I went to see Inma Munoa Barredo present on the Basque Ikastolas schools’ network and discuss the challenge of identifying the language learners need to support their learning of content subjects.  The materials and issues presented and discussed were spot on, colleagues in the Ikastolas network are digging in the right places, and you can tell from the results they get (
My presentation was
Perspectives on the language of content and even though it was misprinted in the programme, we had a full room.
I looked at subject-specific content language, general academic language, and peripheral classroom language.
Macmillan contributed a free copy of the Science VPS which went to one of the colleagues in the room at the end of the presentation.
I met two colleagues from Spain, Asturias and Balearic Islands and we talked of a possible visit in February or March 2009. I can feel myself drawn to Spain! 

I think this is one of the best, if not the best CLIL conference I've had the joy to attend. I'm only sorry I couldn't clone myself so that I could visit the other ten things going on at the same time as the session I was watching. Bravo to the organizers, hope you can do it again soon!

Estonia - CLIL Materials Development Workshop
Estonia - CLIL Materials Development Workshop

CLIL Materials Development Workshop in Estonia, 02-03.10.06

The last of a series of Baltic CLIL events took place in Estonia. Kaarin Truus ( organised the meeting for the British Council as part of an ongoing project for developing Content and Language Integrated Learning in Estonia.
A group of 24 language and content teachers met in the Spa resort of Laulasmaa ( on the Lahepere Bay, an hour’s drive from Tallinn, Estonia, on the Baltic coast for two days of CLIL materials development workshops, 02-03.10.06.
This is a follow up meeting to an initial meeting which took place in April 2006.  This meeting focused on materials development for CLIL and had colleagues investigating different areas of teaching their subjects through the medium of English or other language.

The CLIL Materials Development Programme
1          Introduction
                        Materials development for CLIL
2          Investigating textbooks for language and structure
            participants go through textbooks and locate/identify core language and structure
3          Producing written language
            participants choose a textbook topic and prepare a writing frame
4          Producing guidance for listening
            participants identify a listening from the textbook, visual, labeling
5          Producing frames for speaking / presenting
            participants choose a topic for speaking, prepare language support
6          Producing guidance for reading
            participants choose a text, prepare reading task
7         Working with words
8         Round up - planning the way ahead

The PPT slides are linked at the foot of this page.

The teachers were from 8 schools around Estonia and represented a variety of subject areas including English, Biology, geography, Estonian, Literature, Maths, Chemistry, Russian, and French. 

It's interesting to point out that we had a teacher of French who could communicate perfectly well in English and who had come for ideas for French CLIL.  Another aspect of the group of particular interest was the presence of colleagues from the Estonian Immersion project.  The colleagues have a wealth of experience to offer others in producing content and language integrated materials having built up a materials base already for teachers and learners, usually Russian speaking, working in the Estonian language in schools

You can take a look at some of their materials at the following site address:  Don't be afraid that it's the resources are in Estonian, visitors can choose other languages to view the site and see the vast resource on offer, and can use the models, visuals, charts and illustrations there for their own purposes.
It's always a pleasure working with such a mixture of teachers, you can guarantee that the materials produced will be varied and fascinating and this was the case with this group of teachers.

Language and structure

Colleagues were asked to investigate their textbooks for language and structure which could be exploited and supported in CLIL classes.  In terms of language colleagues were looking for language around the core subject language which was nevertheless essential for learners to make sentences in English.  An example of this language is 'sequencing phrases' in the first example here on Charlotte Bronte.  Where structure is concerned, colleagues examined texts in their books for a generic diagrammatical structure.  Frequently textbook texts are given in a linear fashion which could be presented in a more visual fashion, using tree diagrams, flow diagrams, tabular diagrams etc. They were given the question 'What would the text look like as a diagram?'
The results were presented on flipchart paper around the room for colleagues to present to the group.
Literature: Charlotte Bronte (Time line sequenced boxes in flow diagram plus nouns, verbs, sequencers, preposition phrases for making sentences)
Civics: Conflict (Estonian-medium, fishbone diagram juxtaposing aspects of conflict)
Chemistry: Fuels (Table for characteristics of fuels and verbs and consequence phrases for talking/writing about table)
Nature studies: Animals in the wild (Tree diagram plus phrases for classification)
Biology: Drugs and their effect on target cells (Table with three columns and titles: Antibiotics, Effect, Target Cells)
Biology: Aquatic life (Tree diagram and phrases)
Maths: Polygons (Tree diagram and labels)

Flow diagram of Charlotte Bronte's life

Visuals for Maths

Visuals for Biology

Language and structure
Writing support
The teachers worked through their textbooks finding material to produce language support frames for writing in CLIL classes.
Chemistry: Creative writing about fuels (Describe your journey from creation to use + phrases for writing sentences)
French: Une Invitation (Writing frame and question prompts in French for an invitation to a school outing)
Chemistry: Fuels advantages and disadvantages (Table with verb phrases and characteristics)
Biology: From plankton to restaurant (Estonian-medium, substitution table with phrases describing food change journey of plankton to restaurant)
Nature Studies: The Estonian Bear (Questions and prompt phrases for writing about a bear + table and sentence starters)
Biology: Vertebrates (Word order jumbled up sentences on vertebrates)
Literature: Charlotte Bronte (Diary entry for Jane Eyre + sentence starters and diary writing frame)
Guided listening
The materials creation continued with teachers finding good visuals for guiding listening in the CLIL classroom.
Biology: DNA Structure (Visual for following teacher talk)
History: The Victorian age (Table with dates, people, events for listening to teacher talk)
Chemistry: Fuels (Table for listening to characteristics)
Biology: Parts of a cell (Listen and label and then draw cell)
History: Estonian civil war (Flow diagram, listen and note)
Nature Studies: Animals in the house (Picture of a house, listen and label)

Preparing structures for guiding learners

Speaking in groups

Speaking and presentations
Teachers developed frames for supporting speaking.
Literature: William Thackery (matching half sentences as question loop)
Science: Experiments with butter (Visuals and verbs and phrases for reporting back)
Nature studies: Mammals in Estonia (Information search)
Biology: Fish (Question loop on fish characteristics)
Chemistry: Traditional methods of food preservation (Question loop)
Science: Wood in Estonia (Information search)

'Conflict' Fishbone in Estonian Immersion

Literature Language Support

The programme also focused on preparing guided reading tasks
Estonian literature: Kalevipoeg (Structure with prompt lines for reading and filling in notes)
Chemistry: Traditional methods of food preservation (Tree and flow diagrams with titles for note taking)
Nature studies: Animals in the wild (Title/name matching with text)
Literature: Thackery, Vanity Fair (Read and fill in the table and with parts of speech for making sentences)
Biology: Worms and voles (Read and fill in Venn diagram)

Guiding reading

The teachers worked very intensively over the two days and filled the walls with their work!

Outcomes of the meeting
- Materials produced – these will be written up by participants and collated in CD format by the British Council and then distributed to the group.
- Teachers identified needs and content for future similar meetings
- Follow up: options discussed between coordinators included a meeting for investigating teacher training for CLIL in Estonia, and also a meeting for trainer training for CLIL.

Shapes in Maths

The group photo

It's great to work with groups of colleagues like this. It's a combination of identified needs, subject diversity, good working groups and though these colleagues didn't all know each other before the meeting, they certainly did at the end!  Rebel Reet, Anonymous Anu, Positive Peter ... and many more.It will be interesting to hear how the colleagues make use of these resources which will be collated by the Kaarin at the British Council. After all, that's the main aim, providing input and products which can be practically implemented back in the hubbub of school.

Estonia - CLIL Project Launch
Estonia - CLIL Project Launch

Content and Language Integrated Learning in Estonia – a project launch.

The British Council in Estonia ( launched a new project, April 18th 2006, with a focus content and language integrated learning at their offices in the heart of the old town of Tallinn. 

Project manager Kaarin Truus invited teachers from around Estonia to a one-day information and awareness raising workshop on CLIL and colleagues participated from schools in Tallinn and Tartu looking into opportunities for developing CLIL projects in their home contexts.

Colleagues were presented with an introduction to CLIL and issues for consideration in getting started covering materials provision, teacher and learner language levels, school issues, training and others.
The second half of the workshop was dedicated to providing language support in foreign language content teaching including dealing with new terminology, developing listening and speaking skills and investigating language within content specific texts.
The three-hour workshop offered an insight into successes and challenges in a number of CLIL contexts around Europe and elsewhere including the Basque Country, Germany, Italy as well as Lithuania where a project has been under way for the past three years.
The meeting ended with a brainstorming session on what follow-up meetings should provide teachers and the results included:
- Exercises and themes from Science (other subjects) showing how to they can be applied at different levels
- Experiences in other countries (How to start, what to start with)
- Sharing colleagues’ materials and ideas
- Experience different methods for ‘active learning’
- Evenings (depending on time) – how to prepare a topic
- Social programme
- How far we have got (presentations from colleagues)
- Materials writing
- Planning, collaboration and networking
The afternoon saw the group move to the English College in Tallinn for an observed lesson on Genetics which colleague Anu Parks, thanks for having us, began with the production of concept maps outlining core noun and verb phrases from the topic and which continued with a debate on the issues related to genetic science. The whole lesson was filmed and the students, Form 11, coped very well with the 15 teachers sitting at the back, being filmed, not to mention the marvellous way they performed in English.

Tallinn English College

Day two of the visit involved a round table discussion with a small ‘task force’, which I helped to facilitate, dedicated to discussing and planning for the future growth of the CLIL project in Estonia.

Outcomes from the meeting, in brief, had three core strands. The group concluded that follow-up should involve awareness-raising among educational management within Estonia. It was also agreed that there was a need for some form of progression of teacher development which would revolve around a partner scheme between schools already established in using English as a medium for instruction and other schools with the view that it would be more democratic, it would encourage networking and sharing among teachers and it would also offer the CLIL project the challenge to show that it actually can work in the mainstream of education in Estonia. Parallel to these strands there should be an ongoing process of needs analysis and materials development within partnership schools to outline a foundation for development as well as a means for achieving objectives targeted.

The British Council is looking initially at seeing what they can set in motion during this financial year and in involving strategic partners and raising awareness among managers in education in Estonia, as well as identifying and consolidating a task force working on the project, there will be a strong foundation for the sustainability of the project beyond 2006-7.
The Baltics as a region is developing content and language integration and it should be a very interesting place to keep an eye on for the rest of us. The real challenge here for colleagues in the long term will be to get CLIL on the agenda institutionally and into pre-service educational programmes, to get these courses recognised and certified, so that there will be new generations of teachers coming out of the universities and pedagogy training institutions and into schools equipped to deal with teaching their subjects in a foreign language.

Estonia CLIL Conference and Training
Estonia CLIL Conference and Training

CLIL events in Estonia - 'All teachers are language teachers'

I was invited to contribute a plenary talk and a day of workshops to an ongoing CLIL month of events in Tallinn, Estonia, April 6th and 7th 2016.

The Estonian Association for Language Immersion - Innove - organized the events as part of a whole month of CLIL events being organized by schools all over Estonia, and within a special CLIL week of events, to bring us to 'The CLIL Day' conference itself. Ave Harsing from the Innove organization explained to me that the participants would be mixed for the conference with teachers, trainers, school principles making up the audience.

Day One

I didn't know much at all about the context other than what I've learned from previous visits, namely that Estonians speak very good English generally, and that CLIL is of interest for 'other' languages including Estonian for non-native speakers (e.g., large Russian-speaking minority). I focused on the main principles in the book Putting CLIL into Practice, and set out ideas behind the three dimensions: conceptual, procedural and linguistic of the methodology for CLIL we describe in the book.

Conference audience gathering

This tied in perfectly with the previous speakers at the conference.

Estonian CLIL logo

Natalja Mjatlitsina, Head of the Centre for Curriculum and Methodology at SA Innove described the work of the organization and the events of the CLIL month.

Irene Kӓossar, from the Estonian Ministry of Education, spoke about the goals versus the processes of immersive education, the need for sustainability of both training and education so as to guarantee the long term success of the implementation of methodologies which develop multilingualism in Estonia.

Dr Ehala talking on Estonian problems with literacy

Professor Dr Martin Ehala from the University of Tartu spoke on the theme 'Every Teacher is a Language Teacher' and also acted as moderator for the discussions between talks and at roundup at the end of the day. Dr Ehala sent me the link to his project webpage:

My plenary followed Dr Ehala's talk. My brief was to do a plenary presentation on 'Putting CLIL into Practice - A Methodology for CLIL'. In other words, I described the three dimensions of CLIL and organized these principles into areas looking at guiding content input and supporting content output.

Margus Raud, a sales manager and trainer spoke about technical vocabulary and the need for supporting multiple languages in language courses for specific purposes.

Aarne Saluveer, Principal of the Tallinn School of Music, came to talk on the theme of 'Song Bridge - The story of song as a language' and spoke passionately about how music and song are 'bridges' for children in Estonia (from whatever background) to cross and meet each other. He stressed, 'all children need is for us to build these bridges for them', and so provide opportunities for children to do music and song together.
It was a fabulous programme, and I have to say special thanks to Ave for her continuous translation throughout the day for me, keeping me up to date with what was being said.

Another thing was special. All of the talks and presentations fitted perfectly well with each other. This is down to the very intelligent thought given to the programme by colleagues at Innove. Thank you!

I was particularly delighted to be among so many colleagues all working towards the same goals. It's quite rare in language teaching conferences to find such harmony of thought and direction. Here, the goal was one, 'there is a need for a whole-country policy and approach to language in learning'. Dr Ehala stressed the importance of careful 'language and literacy' training for ALL pre-service teachers, no matter what their subject, something, he argued, which is currently sadly lacking in pre-service education in Estonia.

From this outlining of 'needs', I followed and spoke about 'ways and means' of bringing this to the classroom. Dr Ehala and I are already in touch by email to discuss training for teachers on 'lanugage in the curriculum' and better equip them for working with all language needs when they become teachers in schools in Estonia.

Am always impressed by translators. We had two very competent colleagues sitting in cubicles at the back of the room translating English-Estonian, Estonian-English for my talk, and then for the entire day the next day. Thanks to you for your excellent work!

Day Two

The next day had me with nearly 30 teachers working with literacy. Some of the teachers work with English literacy, others with Estonian language needs. The aim of the day was for me to give them as many ideas as we could fit into the day about 'guiding learners through the content they meet in classes' and 'supporting learners when they are asked to speak and write content in school'.

Ave Harsing opens the training

I divided the day into the four skills: Reading, Listening/Watching, Writing, Speaking. The only reason for organizing things this way was to give equal weight to all the skills, important for language development in school.

Subject-specific terminology taboo!

The teachers working in Estonian (around half of the group) had to work hard to follow both the translators, and participate as well as they possibly could in my English-medium activities. Imagine carrying out a whole group activity where participants have to search for information from people while giving information when asked. Imagine this in English with colleagues who don't speak English. The strategically placed English speakers prompted the group they were in with quick translations into Estonian of anything not understood and they got up and got on with it. Well done to these colleagues for their continued energy and enthusiasm.

Colleagues in discussion

I was forewarned to expect a cool, quiet reception where colleagues would be hesitant to answer questions in a whole group setting. That wasn't the case, these teachers were totally involved and made the day a success.

I brought some tastes of Bulgaria with me and after the colleagues did some informal feedback, all of the participants got the opportunity to taste Bulgarian sheep's cheese, lyutenitsa, chubritsa and red wine made from the Bulgarian Mavrud grape. Everyone particularly liked the lyutenitsa.
By way of collecting some informal feedback, I asked the colleagues to discuss with neighbours 'three things they will take away with them from the day'.

These are my notes on the feedback they gave:

- natural speaking, don't be afraid of it
- question loop, trivia search x2, taboo x2, running dictation, paired surveys
- producing language support from texts
- structuring speech and logical discussion (how to find the repetitions from the texts, how to form sentences, how to use academic phrases and train learners in their use, and preparing speeches and presentations)
- the structure of asking questions within a particular subject, with support for learners how to answer
model phrases should be visible on the worksheets, prepared by teachers
- it's important to listen not only to academic native speaker speech, but also the natural friendly speech (interruption, cutting in, slang)
- activities from foreign language learning
- good to see that CLIL and FLL have so much in common, if you choose the correct content you can use the same technique with adults (the hidden text activity)
- different strategies for looking at language in texts
- facts about the English language
- gapped texts, in many forms
- authentic texts, teachers are used to textbook texts, it is quite artificial, we try to move to authentic text

Estonian Literacy trainers' group pic

These colleagues are working with practising teachers to support their work with learners who need support with their language in school. This is not just the English language, but also Estonian language needs for native and non-native speakers in education. Keep an eye on Estonia for developments in 'language in the curriculum'. It's a small enough population for the ministry, Innove, schools and teachers to be able to implement a workable and sustainable model of pre-service training. Once this is in place, maths, geography, science teachers will be coming in to schools with a grounding in strategies for working with their learners and their needs in the language of learning. It could well be something other countries could learn a lot from!

Follow up
I am linking my slides for the plenary here. You can find the presentation in the links at the foot of the page.
There was considerable interest in the resources for identifying curriculum language functions, so am adding some of these links here:
Language Functions Toolkit - cross-curricular general academic language along with diagrammatical structures for use with this language
Academic language functions for students in higher education -
Your CLIL - A language audit of some functions from secondary Sciences and Geography