Monday, 1 August 2011

Characteristics of successful bilingual teaching

Here I am again... and with plenty of time, since doctors told me I have to stay perfectly still not to worsen my ankle's problem. What an exciting summer vacation :(

Back to CLIL. Here are the points Dr Diana Hicks considered to be the basis of successful bilingual teaching (as usual, I'm adding my reflections as well):

1) boundaries: teachers and pupils have to know what they're expected to do - who does what
2) balance of languages: what can we do in MT and what in FL? decide before, please.
3) all skills should be integrated in tasks: as we already said, CLIL lessons are about thinking how, not knowing what
4) content knowledge targets should be clear: that was great! we are not supposed to lower our standars - or our lessons' contents - just because using two languages. A CLIL lesson is not an easier, summed-up subject lesson. We just have to be careful in how to choose the content, and how to have the students work on it.
5) prior understanding of grammar needs: another great point. Language structures are like tools in a box - Dr Diana Hicks said. You never need all of them at the same time. So, once chosen the subject, be sure to know which linguistic tools your students will need to work on it (past simple? passive form? etc.). The Language teacher will have to provide the students with this tools. The Subject teacher will have to deal with the content.
6) three times as many visuals than in momolingual classes: images play an important role in any lesson. Much more in a CLIL lesson, where we can't leave everything to words.
7) different learners' styles should be catered for (already examined this point)
8) prior awareness of lexical needs: don't be dictionary-dependent, and don't obsess your pupils into being. You've to plan your activities so that your pupils gradually acquire what they need.
9) intention of tasks should be clear to students: this is not anything special of a CLIL lesson. Students always need to know why they're doing something. Anyway, I do agree CLIL lessons, if not properly structured and explained, could be quite mixing up for pupils, more than a traditional monolingual lesson.

(note: there could have been a number 10, but I'm afraid I didn't have time to copy it down...)

Now, what do you think of these points?
Mariella, looks like there's plenty of collaboration needed, and plenty of time. No idea of when and how the Language teacher and the Subject teacher(s) will find the time to meet, share ideas, and actually be on the same page so as to structure a successful project. But obviously they'll have to.

I promise I'll upload all materials as well. Dr Diana Hicks gave us some interesting sheets for the planning. I'm just considering how I could upload them, and the activities as well. Maybe I'll create a public folder in one of my eTwinning project, and just put a link here. We'll see.

Meanwhile, does any of you know anything about the CLIL eTwinning Group? I'll be interested in getting to know something about it. I just didn't join as I'm not supposed to be an "official" CLIL teacher. At least not for now :)

Well, enjoy your summer everydody... and to the next episode!


  1. Hello Laura,
    thanks for going on sharing these inspiring materials. Maybe I'll apply for an in-service training at the next deadline. I was interested by the "visuals" rule: have you ever noticed how dull and boring our textbook can be sometimes? I agree we need more pictures, videos and stuff like that to keep our pupils involved - and to convey more information through a different media. And this is not only for CLIL but for subject lessons too.
    Thank you for these post and... I'm waiting for more!

  2. Dear Laura (15.8.2011),
    Thank you for this new episode.
    How refreshing to see that our task as foreign language teachers may be quite easily defined. We will have to provide "the tools in the box" for the CLIL lessons, which can briefly summed up as follows: the grammar structures and the vocabulary needed for that specific course.
    Then, I’ve found stimulating your claim “We can’t leave everything to words”, which may also lead to an effective use of smart boards.
    These are clear-cut inputs that can be put into practice by teachers willing to cooperate.
    Read you soon

    p.s.I don’t’ know anything about the CLIL Etwinning group since I’m not an official CLIL teacher either. However, I’m really interested in CLIL since I feel we FL teachers will play a pivotal (but not recognized, I’m afraid) role.

  3. Hello mates, I joined the e Twinning CLIL group last September. It's like an open space where everyone can share their ideas....but actually it doesn't have a defined task so at the end you get bored of signing in and see nothing is at the moment you don't miss much. We hope it will work better this year....

  4. Hi Alberto, txs for the info about the CLIL group.
    Unfortunately this is a problem in most eTwinning Groups. You log in, and it's like entering an empty room. Maybe in the CLIL group they should have some "guest speaker" on Elluminate, an expert or something of this kind from time to time.
    They could also organize a CLIL Learning Event.
    Of course we help each other, but we need a formal training: for now, many of us meeting in this blog have experienced in service training, but we could try on line training as well.
    So, please eTwinning, help us now :)