Hi everybody! As part of my teaching challenges this academic year, I’m carrying out a project using blogs with a group of students. They are taking the subject “Exploring Children’s literature” in English as part of their curriculum to become Primary Teachers. This group is taking the bilingual itinerary our institution is offering since 2010, and they are about to finish their studies (next June). As part of this project, and every two weeks, I will be publishing the most interesting post I’ve read here. It is what I’ve called “The Wall of Fame” for my students.
The Wall of Fame is happy to welcome Sonsoles Torres, one of my students, who has written a really interesting post on Nursery Rhymes. We worked on Nursery Rhymes in class, and we discovered that many of them have a hidden message. Legend or truth? Who knows! All we know is that nursery rhymes are great resources to help students practise vocabulary, and pronunciation, and Sonsoles is sharing a nice video she produced in class while presenting “Ring a ring of roses” with her classmates.
Sonsoles’ post is available here
We finished our Bilingual Campus with a day on Culture (or Community or Citizenship, depending on the authors :)). We started the morning sessions with Edward Marks, from Building English Language School (Madrid), who gave a talk entitled “Art, Culture and Language Learning”. His motto for this session was: Your classroom is a canvas; your classroom is your world. And during the session he presented English as a ‘land’ full with possibilities, as this image show.
His was a very practical, dynamic and interactive session full with ideas to make the most of a work of art using TPR, Theatre, Music and Science as the main elements. Participants enjoyed putting his ideas into practice, and considered that his crosscurricular perspective of teaching was really interesting. Even though he admitted that his teaching conditions are very different from the ones a Primary teacher may have, as he is running a Language School, he also highlighted the idea of the teacher as an active ‘player’ in class which helps students think and speak as much as possible.
The second morning session was run by prof. Josue Llull, one of my colleagues, and the wisest person I have ever known 🙂 He works in the field of Social Sciences, and this time he concentrated on Heritage Education. In his talk he emphasized how important heritage is, and how heritage is linked to affection and respect. For this reason, heritage education should be included in Infant and Primary Education. He believes that teachers can introduce activities and projects working on Heritage Education in their classrooms, but that they can also benefit from the many resources which are available on the Internet. In fact, he presented some nice ideas from the Kids’ Council of the National Trust in England , and an experience he has conducted with University Students using a blog. Finally, he invited us to use his blog to find out more ideas and practical resources.
After Josue’s session, it was time for the farewell party. Josue and Matthew thanked all the people involved in the organisation of the event, our Student Helpers, Rebeca and Alberto, the Campus Secretary, Rocío, our Assistant teachers, James and Ana, and of course! they thanked all people participating for their enthusiasm and active role during the sessions. Then, they shared out the Course Certificates (Congrats to all of you!), and the American BBQ party was started (we joined Americans in their 4th July celebrations!).
We hope this was a nice experience for everybody, and see you next time, hopefully in the 4th Edition of our Bilingual Campus!
Tuesday, 2nd July was devoted to Cognition at the Bilingual Campus. The morning sessions started with Majda Knezic (Edelvives Training Coordinator) who presented a talk entitled ” Cooperative Learning in the Thinking Classroom”. In her contribution she highlighted the usefulness of implementing cooperative learning in the CLIL classrooms as an opportunity “to produce knowledge rather than merely reproduce it”. To do so, she talked about the difference between cooperative learning and group work (Cooperative learning is not just taking students to work in groups!), and on the characteristics of good cooperative learning. Also, she tackled with the sometimes difficult question of assessing cooperative work by saying that “the group as well as each individual should be assessed”.
Morning sessions include a short break at midday so that our participants can have a coffee, tea or orange juice, and enjoy the wonderful views from the balcony of our brand new CRAE (the Educational Resources Centre)
The second morning session was held by Viridiana Barban, Director of National Center for Teaching Thinking in Spain (NCTT). In her talk, “Teaching Thinking – Why and How?”, Viridiana focused on the need to “infuse” thinking work in our classes. She talked about TBL, understood as Thinking-Based Learning, and how this can be developed in a series of layers, from pure knowledge to metacognition. In her view, we should go deeper in using thinking skills, as many of us are using activities which just let the students explore their thinking in a very superficial level. For example, just by making students comparing two objects, we are not fostering the thinking skills appropriately, the students need to reflect on why are they comparing, the variables implied, which differences or similarities are more relevant, etc. In other words, they should reflect on how they have cope with that ‘thinking task’.
During the afternoon, prof. Matthew Johnson, a colleague of mine, was in charge of Brain Games, a session where participants had to show their logical skills at the same time they were having fun with English in a natural context. After that, we all travelled to Ireland for a while, as we visited Whelans Irish Pub in Alcalá de Henares, our town, where our Language Assistants, James and Ana, had prepared a wonderful “Pub Quiz”. All teams performed wonderfully, and the session ended up with an Irish traditional music concert which had been prepared for us by a group of young musicians. We were proud to see our LA, James, play the violin and the piano in the concert.
Let’s see what comes from the third day at the Campus.
Last Thursday the 3rd edition of the Nebrija Foro was held in Madrid. This one-day seminar aims to provide participants with the opportunity of listening to CLIL experts and/or practitioners, and get to know trendy topics and shared concerns. I would like to share some of the conclusions I drew from the sessions I attended.
First, in my view, there is a huge concern about the ‘digital component’ in education and, more specifically,
in CLIL. Almost all sessions mentioned the key role digital tools can play to develop cognition, interaction, collaborative work, etc. I admit I’m also exploring this, as I’m now getting training on the use of different digital tools in education, but I also think that we should be cautious: it is not the tool we use, it is what we do with it. Using Twitter in my lessons won’t make my students use their HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills) automatically. Hence, the tricky point here is not digital tools but PLANNING. If we train teachers how to plan effectively, they will make the most of any resource (digital or not). In any case, it is true that new generations are digital-native, and we should find ways to learn ‘the language’ they feel more comfortable with 😉
Second, there is a progressive tendency to replace Culture (one of the four Cs put forward by Coyle) with Community (which was proposed by Mehisto, Marsh and Frigols (2008). This does not come as a surprise, taking into account what I have mentioned in the paragraph above. That is, the word ‘community’ is linked to the digital world everywhere. Also, I guess that Culture may be a misleading concept for practitioners: “is it the Culture of the English-speaking cultures?” “my culture?” This is a clear shift towards ELF (English as a Lingua Franca)
Third, believe it or not, I gather that there isn’t consensus about what CLIL is. I still consider that there are many experts talking about EFL or ESL and labeling this as CLIL (and this is not so!). In one of the talks, CLIL was defined as “the term for the European version of bilingual education”. In my opinion, this is not a fair definition. First, Teaching in a Foreign/Second Language is not necessarily CLIL. There are ‘bad’ bilingual practices, and CLIL tries to make the most of bilingual education. Second, I really think that there isn’t a unique European version as such, many models coexist, and this is not CLIL all the time.
The following point I’d like to make is a warning note on the ‘search for’ recipes to implement CLIL. Even if I agree on the need to establish common ground so that not everything is labelled as CLIL, I also see that some people try to ‘sell’ ‘the CLIL didactic sequence’, and this can be a disaster if it is applied literally to any classroom. In fact, sticking to a foreseeable structure will spoil the ‘variety’ factor CLIL plays with. The student should be constantly challenged and engaged.
And last, but not least, some Bilingual Projects are in urgent need of an integrated curriculum encompassing integrated objectives and a major shift in the English language subjects. It is paradoxical that CLIL content teachers are applying innovative techniques and strategies whereas EFL teachers are still dealing with the present perfect with the same group in the next hour! Literacy should be included in the English Language Curriculum, as the projects set by the British Council/Ministry of Education have been doing for many years now.
Regarding the more practical workshops, I believe that some work should be done to provide Primary Teachers with tools to support their students’ reading comprehension. Some tips I can think of is to use colours for keywords, add pictures to reinforce understanding, and show alternative terms for a concept or idea. We shouldn’t forget that there are less able students that need to have clear scaffolding when dealing with texts.
Once again, this Foro is a great opportunity to meet people, exchange ideas and experiences and start up new projects with colleagues from other institutions. I’d like to thank the organisers for this wonderful opportunity to talk about Bilingual Education and CLIL.
Images have been obtained from: http://actualidadnebrija.com/2013/06/28/educacion-bilingue-estrategias-y-nuevos-retos/
Just a quick note to let you know that the II Jornadas Internacionales de Lenguas Modernas have been cancelled. I have just received an e-mail from the Organisation apologizing for this last-minute decision.
The programme offers the chance to attend sessions about the teaching of different languages such as: English, French, and Italian, and covers a wide range of topics and debate issues.
I’ll be participating on Saturday with a one-hour session on literacy in the bilingual classroom. The session has been organised thanks to University of Dayton Publishing (Grupo SM). My main aim is to raise awareness of the need to make a shift in our conceptualization of literacy in the classroom, and to provide participants with the opportunity to experience some practical activities ready to be used in their Primary Education lessons.
If you’re interested in attending this Seminar, registration is still open. You can find more information here.
The group of university teachers involved in the teaching of bilingual subjects at the Escuela Universitaria Cardenal Cisneros is working on collecting interesting internet links which may be useful for higher education. The collection is growing little by little and it is available at: http://delicious.com/proyectobilingue
We are glad to share them with you all.
Feel free to suggest us any materials which can be of any interest to us!