After a short break, due to an accident (I fell from a sidewalk! I'm worse than kids... sometimes I think I shouldn't be allowed to travel alone!!!), here I am again sharing ideas, hints and doubts of my CLIL course.
That's how Dr Diana Hicks introduced the subject to us: you can't do something different (a CLIL lesson isn't monolingual methodology given in second or third language, remember?) and keep the same attitude. You've to make changes. So, that's it: feel confident enough to welcome the change and rethink our role and our strategies.
We need to make changes to
1) Teacher Language awareness
2) Student Language awareness
4) Assessment strategies
5) Working relationship with colleagues
6) Relationship with parents
7) Our view of language "success"
8) Our view of what learning success is
9) Our view of how learning takes place
10) Lesson planning
We have already discussed some of these changes in other posts. Anyway, some of them deserve to be paid further attention. Of course, the first point is very controversial: we are working in two languages, MT and FL. But we can't take it for granted that students will only have problems with the Foreign Language. Maybe they'll struggle through the topic. Or maybe they don't have the host country language. How can we provide support for them? (burning question for me: in one of my classes I've 8 students out of 20 whose mother tongue is not Italian... and still no answer found).
Tasks and assessment: according to Dr Diana Hicks, most tasks should be shared and open - students should be allowed to bring their own ideas to add to the outcome and/or process. And as for the language, we have to make sure they know which language they can work in and what they're expected to produce.
Assessing (please note: the assessment part of the course was in my opinion the weakest... and for a very simple reason - we didn't have enough lessons and we had to rush through things) is connected to the lesson planning: when planning - and it will be a shared planning, subject teacher + language teacher - we'll have to discuss about assessment as well. What's important is to pay attention to the "how" more than to the "what": that means designing activities and tests that require thinking/understanding, not knowing. It sounds beautiful put like this, but don't ask me if I could do it in real life. I try.
We've been speaking about collegiality, and the challenge to work together, quite a lot now - so I won't examine this point again. What we can add here is a reflection on what "language success" means to us, both in MT and FL. We usually think in terms of accuracy, especially in MT, but maybe we have to pay some more attention to the students' awareness of the context: they should be aware of the differences between BICS and CALP. Language success may have to do with understanding when we can speak/write in a certain way, and when we have to change. Again, this has to do with thinking.
Enough for now... but just to keep you intrigued... I'll leave "characteristics of successful bilingual teaching" for my next post.
So enjoy your summer, but come back here from time to time!