Being faced with the problem of having texts which are not ready for use as such the teacher can look for various techniques to make texts more accessible to the learners. A useful model to help him to determine whether a text is suitable for his learners and what additional means may be needed is that of Cummins. This model enables the teacher to determine whether a text is cognitively demanding or whether the language may be too difficult. As such it is important for the teacher to determine how much contextual support there is available for his learner and how much (subject) information the learner has to process at a challenging level. On the basis of his analysis the teacher may make his decision not to use this text at all (e.g. in the case it is both cognitively and contextually too demanding) or what kind of support he would like to give his students. This may take the form of support which focuses very much on the language level (vocabulary, sentence structures, etc.) or support which will help the student towards a better understanding of the topic (mind maps, diagram’s, visual aids, etc.) However, the clil teacher is faced with a more challenging task than just understanding and processing of his subject. His other goal is to promote the language learning process of learners. Research shows that simple immersion is not enough. A lot more can be gained by integrating the subject tasks with language tasks and/or language awareness. Thus, if the geography student needs to compare two geographical areas for a specific assignment, the teacher can supply him with the language tools (comparisons) that he needs for this. At the same time the history teacher can point out certain language features which are being used to describe events which happened in the past. Reference: J. Cummins, 1981
Assessment in CLIL
To what extent does the assessment issue in CLIL pose different problems from those connected with the assessment of language in L2 teaching and subject competence in the disciplines? If we compare the two we are able to highlight the principle issues: · Integration The main feature of CLIL is its integrated nature - integration of content and language and the two types of learning connected with them. Thus the assessment issues concern whether to separate language assessment from content assessment. If so, how can this be justified? If not, how can dual assessment be effected? · Content learning objectives In CLIL situations content objectives must be reached. However, language problems may interfere with learner performance on content tasks thus impeding accurate or reliable assessment of the latter. The challenging question to address therefore is in test situations how can one recognize and assess content knowledge without ‘interference’ from potential learner difficulties in the L2? In other words what role should language play in CLIL assessment? Work is currently underway to answer these questions and already some solutions are being found. First of all the extent to which language is assessed in content teaching will depend on the projected learning outcomes of the programme. In most content teaching objectives there is a concern for the correct acquisition of the specialist vocabulary and this reveals itself through the presence of matching exercises /tests to associate, for example, a term with a definition or process, as also with completion exercises or cloze, etc. CLIL practitioners can take these formats and use them in a more purposeful fashion for CLIL (e.g. design a cloze test where some of the eliminated words concern content and others concern language only). Nonetheless, assessment of language cannot be limited to lexical items only. Learning language through content implies learning the language of the content which also includes morphosyntactic style, text types and genres as well as of the thinking skills associated with it (e.g. hypothesizing, analysing, speculating, etc). Thus different formats and assessment procedures need to be used to embrace the scope of the issue. Of interest to CLIL teachers are criterion-referenced tests (also called rubrics) with scale descriptors describing performance both in content and language which can focus even on one specific task. Also, a move to use performance-based formats (e.g. carrying out an experiment) and the use of checklists for assessing performance are a move in the direction of a qualitative as opposed to merely quantitative assessment. In addition, the advent of more formative assessment being embedded in CLIL courses brings with it alternative means of assessing learning as it is on-going. This suggests further exploration of peer assessment, portfolio work, and self-assessment and evidence collection to demonstrate both language progression as well as content capability. References Cummins, J. (1983): Language Proficiency and Academic Achievement, in Oller, J. W. Issues in Language Testing Research. Short, D.J. (1993): Assessing Integrated Language and Content Instruction, TESOL Quarterly, XXVII, 4.
In the school curriculum CLIL outcomes obviously need to be considered in terms of the objectives inherent in the approach. Assessment and evaluation procedures need to be carefully considered, and transparency of rationale ensured, so that these are coherent and aligned to the approach. At the socio-cultural level CLIL outcomes can be regarded in broader terms, ranging from school development, and the profile of the school within a given community, through to impact on local and wider communities. The added value of CLIL can be described in terms of individual and social interests in terms of the economics of language, social inclusion & egalitarianism, gender equality, relevance and value of limited competencies, early language learning, and certification. For further information: http://europa.eu.int.comm/education/languages/index.html
Materials that are to be used by the content-teacher are difficult hard to find. The content teacher in a clil-classroom is looking for (text) materials that serve two purposes. On the one hand he needs materials that enable him to work on the curriculum aims for his subject as prescribed within his national school-programme. On the other hand he wants to use texts and other materials that can provide adequate language input for his learners. The latter implying that the material should not be too easy or too difficult, Using authentic materials often don’t meet these two demands and therefore the materials need to be adapted. This problem holds for authentic materials which can be found outside the educational sector, but also for materials which were designed for educational purposes in countries where the target language is spoken. Hence, in a lot of countries where clil is practiced there is a growing market of materials to be used inside the clil classroom. Professional networks, European educational development projects, publishers and others who produce purpose-designed materials, increasingly offer alternative forms of materials designed for CLIL.
CLIL & Literacy
The traditional definition of literacy is the ability to read and write. Literacy involves a complex set of abilities to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture for personal and community development. The need and demand for these abilities vary in different societies, so that other forms of literacy may be recognised such as ‘computer’ literacy and ‘science’ or ‘maths’ literacy. In a technological society, the concept is expanding to include the media and electronic text in addition to alphabets and numbers. Individuals must be given life-long learning opportunities to move along a continuum that includes reading, writing, and the critical understanding and decision-making abilities they need in their communities. For example, an information literate person recognises the different levels, types and formats of information and their appropriate uses; recognises that accurate and complete information is the basis for intelligent decision making; recognises the need for information; formulates questions based on information needs; evaluates information; integrates new information into an existing body of knowledge and uses information in critical thinking and problem solving. In many European countries, there is a push towards integrating literacy skills into all aspects of the curriculum so that literacy is no longer only associated with mother tongue language teaching and especially reading and writing. Instead, the Literacy Movement advocates that all teachers are teachers of language and that the responsibility of extending and developing literacy skills in different contexts lies as much with content teachers as with language teachers. In the UK, the Bullock Report in the 1970s gave rise to an emphasis on cross-curricular language skills and an emphasis on all subject teachers taking responsibility for developing the literacy skills of their learners. More recently a drive to raise the standards in reading and writing has led to a renewed emphasis on literacy in all curriculum areas in the UK. In the CLIL setting, developing literacy skills is particularly relevant since whatever the subject, the teacher needs to take into account developing reading, writing and communication skills in the foreign language. An English CLIL school, where 11-year-old learners were exposed to half of their curriculum in French, reported that the effects of CLIL after one year had not only resulted in foreign language gains but also had improved literacy standards in the mother tongue (The Nuffield Language report 2000). It is recommended therefore that trainee CLIL teachers familiarise themselves with the Literacy Strategy associated with their national curriculum in order to consider how incorporating the development of literacy skills in CLIL lessons will support the both foreign and mother language use of their learners.
Communication is at the heart of CLIL. The CLIL classroom therefore provides an authentic context in which to develop authentic communication skills. Classroom language is the language of participation in the learning process and of interaction between learners and between teachers and learners. It provides the basis for developing BICS (basic interpersonal communication skills) and enables learners to develop both their coping (metacognitive) strategies and their comprehension (cognitive) strategies. Classroom language is spontaneous and not dependent on linguistic progression. However, this type of classroom language needs to be modelled by the teacher, extended grammatically beyond the use of set phrases, and used as much as possible across a wide range of contexts. It also needs time to become part of the learners’ repertoire so that it has to be built into the planning of lessons in the same way that progression in the subject topic is carefully prepared. Most importantly, students need to be taught strategies for using language spontaneously from the start – even when their language skills may be weak – to enable them to say what they want or need to say. This is authenticity. The CLIL teacher must therefore plan tasks which will both initiate, support, develop and extend the students’ classroom language. Because in mother tongue subject teaching little attention is usually paid to classroom language, it is essential that this element of CLIL is neither overlooked nor left for the learner to assimilate over time. To raise awareness in trainee teachers, audio or video recording subject lessons taught in both the mother tongue and in L2, provides a practical basis from which to analyse classroom language and consider the implications for ‘teaching’ this explicitly as well as embedding it implicitly into the CLIL setting. Recommended Reading Harris, V., Burch, J., Jones, B., Darcy, J. (2001) Something to say? Promoting spontaneous classroom talk. London: CILT. Jones