Friday, 21 October 2011

eTwinning, CLIL... and me :)

Hello everybody,
as an eTwinning Mentor I've been asked lots of questions: of course, I couldn't answer 100% of them, since in some fields I'm more experienced than in others (ok, I do have doubts concerning some ICT tools and their applications in the TwinSpace!). Anyway, for those questions whose answer was not sure, I always managed to find another eTwinner (Mentor or not) who could help. So I learnt a lot myself.

One of the most interesting questions was raised by Gracia and it deals with CLIL. I answer here because I think it can be of interest for many teachers. I believe we all share the same experience: we start with teaching at our best whit what we learnt at University, then we find an opportunity of training (Comenius, National Agencies, Ministries of Education...), and eventually we want to try out these new things in our classes. And we discover eTwinning projects, Comenius/Grundtvig and so on. All of them mean meeting new people and learning more.

Now, how to start a CLIL project for the first time?

I can give my experience. Please note, there's no rule, it's just how things worked for me.
So, these are the guidelines I would suggest:

1) involve your colleagues: of course, you can manage your
CLIL project on your own, but it won't be as effective as with two or more teachers working together. So, if you're the Language teacher, I would advise involving one/two subject teachers (it depends on the topic you're willing to deal with: History? Geography? Science? it's up to you). And if you are the subject teacher, of course you'll have to  involve the Language teacher: otherwise you will offend him/her, by apparentky teaching something they are supposed to teach (language).

2) talk about your project idea: don't keep things just for you and your involved colleague(s). Do speak with others during the official meetings: Principal, other colleagues and families need to know what's going on. They will support you in case of need, give you useful advice, or be interested in developing a similar pathway. Or - this is for parents - they will need to be reassured and to understand what's going on (let them know it won't be too difficult for their children and it won't ruin their marks).

3) choose a limited number of classes and set a reasonable timetable: for my first attempt at a CLIL project, I started with two classes, two colleagues (I teach History and Geography and I asked the English teacher and Science teacher to join me) and a series of 10 lessons. A small project, in terms of involved people and time, is easier to manage. Plus, you won't have to squeeze your brain to make up hundreds of new activities!

4) decide if the activity will be curricular or not: this depends on your school system. In my Institute, at the moment, CLIL projects need extra time, in the afternoon (which means extra money to be found, making everything more difficult). In the past, we could use our normal lesson time for our projects.

5) find a partner if you feel like: ok, it can work perfectly well with your classes alone, but I personally think eTwinning can help a lot in any CLIL project. If you have a partner class, your pupils will feel the actual need to use a foreign language. They'll be more curios and motivated. And you'll find extra help in your partner.

6) enjoy! It's an experiment, so just enjoy the activities with your pupils and colleagues. And laugh off the unexpected problems. There always are and you can't be prepared. So take them with sense of humour.

I can say these extra-ordinary activities have been among the funniest and most rewarding of my life as a teacher.

[and that's why I keep going :) ]


  1. Yes, this was the beginning for us, too. An exciting journey with lots of surprises. And we'll try this year as well!
    Thank you Laura :)

  2. Dear Laura,
    One of the most rewarding results of involving my colleagues into Etwinning/Comenius has been the following. A Maths teacher, my friend Barbara, has made two important decisions: starting her own Etwinning Maths project with a Spanish Etwinner and starting teaching Maths in English for one hour a week. This of course will pave the way for the CLIL practice we "must" start soon at our high school according to the Italian riforma. But what I find very refreshing is that she has decided to start the experience now, soon after our October Comenius mobility, out of her enthusiastic relationships with our Comenius partners and school.
    When I read your blog entries, I always find hands on tips, and I've decided I'll share them with my colleagues too.
    Thank you!

  3. CLIL and eTwinning are going great together! That's my second year and I'll go on for sure!
    Thank you everybody for your hints and support

  4. Thank you everybody. Your words are an evidence of what I thought from the very beginning: enthusiasm, ideas and practice are a shared treasure and they are continuously transferred from one teacher to another, getting deeper and more reliable in the process.
    Mariella and Tommaso, I have your same experience: one of my colleagues worked with me in a project and then, the following year, ffelt confident enough to start her own.
    True, that's the most rewarding result we can dream of!
    Thank you for being here friends,