Cardenal Cisneros

1st Meeting of Educational Teams

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On 29th May, our University will be hosting the 1st Meeting of Educational Teams. The central idea is that we are living in a society which moves very fast and requires of educational centres to change and adapt constantly.  Therefore, Head Departments of Educational Centres need to be flexible and creative to cope with these circumstances, looking at obstacles as if they were opportunities. In this context, this meeting aims to provide participats with the opportunity to think and reflect about the ways we can take advantage of educational change to keep on advancing in Education.

The Meeting is open to Head Departments and Teachers working at any educational level, and it will be held using Spanish as the vehicular language. It will run from 9 to 14.30.

Registration is free, but you need to book a place by sending an email to with the subject: I Encuentro de Equipos Educativos de Organizaciones que Aprenden. In this email you need to indicate your complete name and Identity Card Number.

If you need more information, you can access it here


1st Meeting of Educational Teams at Cardenal Cisneros University College. Photo: Communication Service CUCC


New Postgraduate Course: Expert in CLIL – Virtual Learning

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After one hard year of work, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be co-directing a new postgraduate course: Expert in Content and Language Integrated Learning. This academic programme is focused on improving teachers’ profiles to cope with bilingual education contexts by using the CLIL pedagogical approach. The Course is on-line with 3 optional face-to-face sessions which will take place on Campus. It will run from February to June, and it is composed by 24 ECTS. Participants will take three compulsory subjects to establish the fundamentals of the teaching-learning process using CLIL, and they will have the chance to choose 3 optional subjects, which deal with topics such as Social Sciences, Arts, Science, Using Stories, Classroom Management, or Coordinating a Bilingual Project (this last subject will have a face-to-face module which will take place in Madrid).

Offering this postgraduate course is not a matter of chance, our University College has been training teachers to offer Bilingual Degrees for 10 years now, and I have been coordinating the methodological training of teachers from 2008. Also, lecturers participating in the Expert Teaching Staff are well experienced in the implementation of CLIL in their classrooms, and many of them are involved in research projects which revolve around bilingual education and CLIL.

 If you are interested in obtaining more information about this Postgraduate Course, you can visit our webpage (information in English will be available soon), and/or contact me via email: raquel.fernandez@cardenalcisneros. Thank you all in advance for spreading the word.

Cardenal Cisneros University College offers an Expert in CLIL Postgraduate Course - Campus
Cardenal Cisneros University College offers an Expert in CLIL Postgraduate Course. Source of Photo:


CLIL VIDEO premiére

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I’m excited with the fantastic work my students did with the video I’m presenting today. The Bilingual Project was a paper full with letters in 2009, and right now the first cohort of Bilingual Primary and Infant Teachers is taking their last course. They wanted to tell the world about what they are doing, and what they know about CLIL. Teaching staff, the Communication service and a group of enthusiastic students made it possible.  I’m also there, although I don’t feel very comfortable in front of a camera, I tried my best to contribute to this project. 🙂

Hope you enjoy it!

2nd day at the Bilingual Campus: Cognition

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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”.

Cooperative Learning in CLIL
Cooperative Learning in CLIL
Majda's session
Majda’s session
Cooperative learning
Cooperative learning
Majda's session 1
Majda’s session 1

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)

Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view

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.

James and Ana - Pub Quiz
James and Ana – Pub Quiz
Concert at the Pub
Concert at the Pub

Let’s see what comes from the third day at the Campus.

3rd Bilingual Campus

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Since 2006, I have been organising Summer Courses related to Bilingual Education and CLIL. It is my belief that teachers need to find time and places to share experiences and find out new resources and ideas for their lessons, and we, as teacher trainers, should provide them with these opportunities. As school schedules are too tight, we need to wait for the Summer holidays to  offer this courses which are targeted to Infant, Primary and Secondary teachers.

3 Bilingual Campus
3 Bilingual Campus

In 2011 I decided to give a major shift to the Summer course format, and invented what I called “Bilingual Campus”. My main idea was to have a practical course, full with workshops and hands-on activities, and with a specific section on language improvement, carried out in the afternoons. In 2013 we are proud to host the third edition, this time directed and organised by my colleagues Prof. Matthew Johnson and Prof. Josué Llull, and in collaboration with the publishing house Edelvives.


The 3rd edition will be running from 1st July to 4th July. The person in charge of the plenary was prof. Linda Gerena (York University, NYC). She has presented the findings from a research carried out thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, and in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Even though hers is a small-scale research, it was interesting to know

3 Bilingual Campus - Prof. Linda Gerena
3 Bilingual Campus – Prof. Linda Gerena

that the secondary students participating found that Bilingual Education was worth the effort, and asserted that they were not afraid of using English. This is a significant gap if we compare it with previous generations, which will run away just on thinking about how to answer a simple question in English.

Prof. Gerena has also talked about the main ‘ingredients’ of the CLIL salad. She has gone through Multiple Intelligences, Thinking Skills, Scaffolding and Resourceful materials, to name such a few. These are items we can put inside our teaching ‘toolbox’ and use in our classes, but we need to provide teachers with them first. In my opinion, it is also necessary to have the tools to know when and where to apply one or another, which is not always easy.

Next session was run by Prof. Jesús Aguado, one of my colleagues at the University. He is a Doctor in Theoretical Physics, and it is always a pleasure to see him work. In an entertaining session full of resources

3 Bilingual Campus - Prof. Jesús Aguado
3 Bilingual Campus – Prof. Jesús Aguado

and good humour, he has put forward the idea of ‘every place is a lab’ and ‘every person is a scientist’. Following a CLIL scheme, he has put Science down from the pedestal, and has given us many ideas to teach Science with hands-on experiences we can all bring to our lessons.

The afternoon session was a mystery tour around our town, Alcalá de Henares, a historical place full of hidden places. My colleagues Josué Llull, Ana Reina, James Crichlow and Matt Johnson had prepared a wonderful itinerary to discover the most beautiful places in our town. Participants have had the chance to meet historical characters 🙂 and

had to solve riddles to know where the next stop was, until they finally reached the famous façade of the historical Universidad de Alcalá. The tour has been really nice and enjoyable, and I’m sure the participants have learnt a lot about Alcalá, its places and famous people.

Mystery Tour 3Bilingual Campus
Mystery Tour 3Bilingual Campus

Let’s see what happens tomorrow!

3 Bilingual Campus - Univ. Alcalá
3 Bilingual Campus – Univ. Alcalá

BEDA Prize

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The federation of Spanish Catholic Schools in Madrid, together with Macmillan, and Cambridge ESOL celebrated its Bilingual English Development and Assessment (BEDA) Annual Contest last week. The contest accepted articles dealing with educational experiences carried out in Bilingual educational centres of any level. My contribution, entitled “Identified CLIL in every day practice: an experience with teacher trainees”, was awarded with a BEDA PRIZE. I’m really thankful for this recognition to my work and effort.

Due to the nature of this experience, this prize is has not only be awarded to a specific activity, but also to the teaching-learning model we are implementing in our teacher training degrees at the Centro Universitario Cardenal Cisneros (former Escuela Universitaria). It is our belief that good CLIL teaching-learning should start from training University lecturers appropriately. This naturally takes time, money and effort, but no good-quality teaching can be guaranteed if lecturers have not been trained to find their way to CLIL. Another key component of our Bilingual Project is that we are pioneers in implementing CLIL as our methodological approach. Students are not only told about CLIL (as the awarded experience explains), but also are helped to identify CLIL components, and later to work with them. This helps them find their way to CLIL from practice. As Benjamin Franklin said:

Tell me, and I will forget
Show me, and I will remember
Involve me, and I will learn.

You can access the full version of the awarded experience here.

Cardenal Cisneros Bilingual Campus (3rd edition)

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Dear all,

A Summer course on CLIL
A Summer course on CLIL

I’m enclosing information about the 3rd Cardenal Cisneros Bilingual Campus to be held from 1st to 4th July, 2013.  It’s been a pleasure for me to launch the first and second editions, and this time prof. Dr. Josué Llull and prof. Matthew Johnson are in charge of this great new edition, together with the publishing house Edelvives.

The Campus is an ideal opportunity to refresh your teaching and perfect your English without moving from Spain. It is a 4-day course with CLIL-specific training provided by 10 different CLIL experts and trainers. It offers integral training on Content, Cognition, Communication and Culture, with an emphasis on a cross-curricular approach. As a novelty, this year we offer a special social and cultural programme in the afternoons. As a guest speaker, we are proud to welcome Dr. Linda Gerena, from the City University of New Work.

This is also a great opportunity to show the new logo of our University College, which has been presented to celebrate its 40-year anniversary (available in the leaflet attached).

If you would like to register or have more information on this proposal, please click here. Remember that there are limited posts