my experiences

I Can Tell It Workshop

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What happens when you have a group of wonderful students willing to learn and become the best teachers ever? THIS is what happens. Today my 4th year Primary Teacher Training Students (Bilingual Group) designed 6 workshops focusing on 6 different fairy tales. They were prepared to welcome 2nd-year Primary children coming from the State Bilingual School Daoiz y Velarde, Alcalá de Henares (thanks to Rosa and all the teaching staff there!) The activity was part of the subject “Children’s literature in English”, and involved the use of ICT (I Can Tell It) to retell popular fairy tales. It revolved around the idea of a boring wizard who had disorganised fairy tales. Children, with the help of characters, had to retell these stories! 

As you can see in the photographs (and video) here they have worked hard to contextualise the story appropriately in each of the classrooms. They have used visuals, costumes, even music! Also, they have created effective activities dealing with all the communicative skills. As a boost to use new technologies, twitter was used to report on what we were doing and to share experiences.The ICT Department helped us to spread the word #unProyectoparaTIC

Children have enjoyed the workshops and students have applied their ideas into practice! What a great opportunity to keep on learning and to enjoy together!

Thanks for your work, my Explorers! #cuccicantellit @cucc_educacion


CLIL students ready to start “The three little pigs” workshop


Wall of Fame -Nursery Rhymes

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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


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.

Toolbox: using infographics

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Hi everybody!

Today I’m sharing a teaching-learning project I have been developing with my students during the past weeks. We were involved in getting acquainted with the nuts and bolts of CLIL, and I designed an assignment which was based on the use of infographics. Students had to prepare an infographic related to bilingual education and CLIL, and explain it in an oral presentation in front of their classmates.

I used infographics because I wanted my students to resort to visuals when explaining. More often than not, they do not provide any type of scaffolding when they are giving information in class. Taking into account that they will become bilingual primary teachers in the future, I consider that using visuals effectively is essential to ensure better learning.

To create their infographic they were suggested  the following free software:

As a reference to create their own infographics, I recommended visiting this website:  Also, I provided them with an article dealing with Visual Stories through Infographics:

I guess that the use of infographics may be interesting for any subject, but probably more for those of you working on Social Sciences. It may be used to make students gather, organise and present information of any kind. Also, introducing this resource will force students use their High Order Thinking Skills (creativity involved here!).

Finally, I’d like to gather more information as to write an article on this experience. I’m curious about students’ reactions to this project, and their perceptions on the content and language learning gains it has granted.

Have you ever used infographics? Do you find this proposal interesting? I’d love to hear from you.

A bilingual literacy experience at tertiary education

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You can know read an article about a literacy project developed last yeat at the Escuela Universitaria Cardenal Cisneros.  The abstract is the following:

The following article is focused on the study of a literacy experience I developed in a teacher training college in Spain (Escuela Universitaria Cardenal Cisneros). A group of students taking an optional subject on English language and literature took part on three activities which aimed at promoting a more aesthetic reading (Rosenblatt, 2005), and increasing their awareness of the importance of enjoying reading and writing books. The activities were the creation of a Spell Book, a newsstand and a bookcrossing experience.

It is available here

Yes, we can teach! Our future bilingual teachers

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Foto: Iván Espínola (Diario de Alcalá)

Yes, we can teach

A local newspaper, Diario de Alcalá, was interested in our bilingual degrees, and this is the result of the interviews carried out with a group of students and with the coordinator of the project (it happens to be me… :)). We started small, and we are making the first steps towards implementing a full bilingual project at the Escuela, but the first outcomes are really interesting (have a look at our students’ opinions!). Let’s keep on working on helping these students become good bilingual teachers!

CLIL-ing in me softly. Defining CLIL.

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It is interesting how specialists all over the world are trying to define CLIL. The first definition was written by the European Commission and tried to consider it as an “umbrella term”. In 2002 David Marsh provided the (probably) most quoted description:

CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content, and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language.

Little by little the “umbrella” seems to be described more accurately, as teachers become more familiar with CLIL in practice. In other words, practice is shaping the concept of CLIL , and it is helping to determine what can be considered CLIL and what it is not, by any means, teaching through a foreign language.

An example of this is the distinction between soft and hard CLIL I’ve come across thanks to the work of Keith Kelly and Phil Ball. Soft CLIL stands for teaching content through the medium of a foreign language but with predominantly linguistic objectives. Teachers involved in soft CLIL will put language issues in front of their syllabus, and use content to give a framework for them. In my opinion, this is a more EFL version of CLIL, as most EFL teaching in the last decades has been topic-based but language oriented. Different methodological techniques may apply, though.

imagenes para blog

On the other hand, hard CLIL stands for teaching content through the medium of foreign language with content objectives at the front. That is, language is relevant as much as it is needed to progress in the learning of content, but THERE IS, and MUST BE, language awareness, more specifically at the level of discourse and functional language.

After seven years working on researching and studying bilingual education, I am more inclined to consider the definition of hard CLIL much closer to my idea of what integrating content and language is. If we really want to use any foreign language as a communicative tool in the classroom, content cannot be enslaved to language. Quite the contrary, the real integration appears when we are able to determine which language we need to help our students to access that content, to work with it, analyse it, assimilate it,  and create with it. That’s my view.

Further reading on the definition of CLIL  What is CLIL? by Phil Ball (onestopenglish)