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CLIL (=subj. English) the new trend in private lang. schools

 
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:24 am    Post subject: CLIL (=subj. English) the new trend in private lang. schools Reply with quote

CLIL = Content Language Integrated Learning. It's essentially teaching English through school subjects. I've briefly attended one such math lesson here in Beijing where the 7-9 (?) yr olds were reasonably fluent but had very poor grammar and pronunciation. I'm interviewing later today with another such school.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1217

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are the teachers qualified English teachers or qualified subject teachers (or neither)?

Some schools in the U.K. do this, mine didn't though. For example in secondary school they would have a history lesson in French. I'm not sure what qualifications the teacher had (presumably a History P.G.C.E. who could speak French, or a French P.G.C.E. who knew about history).
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Mr. Leafy



Joined: 24 Apr 2012
Posts: 194
Location: North of the Wall

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might be new in China but the term has been around for over a decade.
Usually it is taught by a subject specialist, sometimes in tandem with and an EFL teacher although I've seen CLIL done by EFL teachers alone. I was part of a pair teaching Global Issues and history courses.

http://ec.europa.eu/languages/language-teaching/content-and-language-integrated-learning_en.htm

Google Scholar has over one million items and Google Regular over 5 mill, and Amazon almost 200 titles so there is a lot to say about the subject. (And lots of resources if you need help.)

I'm not doing CLIL now but would like to hear about schools which are doing it in China. How common is it here?
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shroob wrote:
Are the teachers qualified English teachers or qualified subject teachers (or neither)?


The school I've just interviewed with, additionally compensates for TEFL, 3 yrs exp., and whether you have a teacher's licence on a 6-tier pay structure. The fact they do that is a positive sign in my books.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5769
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is basically what our international department in my school is all about. When it comes to the success of the program, we have our hits and misses. The HR department often tends to hire teachers that come from a background of TEFL and these teachers get a soft-sell on what their actual teaching duties are going to be. When they arrive and get thrown into the lion's den, some rise to the occasion and others flounder and may last anywhere from a few weeks to one full school term.

The problem is, of course, is that it is quite difficult to find someone who actually has experience (or a degree) in teaching a curriculum. I have seen many of the EFL teachers try to teach math in the same way they have taught "spoken English" in a language center or somewhere. It just doesn't work. When you teach any subject (Math, Science, Grammar, Geography), you have to really dig in and pay attention to the details that need to be taught in a lesson. You have to make sure you don't stray too far off the goals you should have set for your lesson. Then, you can't forget review and repetition because these kids are NOT going to get it the first, second, or even third time around. It doesn't mean you can't use some parts of EFL, rather it can't dominate the lesson.

The textbooks we use are good for this because each grade level higher essentially repeats what was in the level before, while adding just a few more elements.

The other problem we have is that the school allegedly "tests" students before placing them in the program, but every year we somehow get this impossible mix of kids with NO English in their arsenal at all, to some that are very fluent for their age and a few that fall somewhere in between. Trying to teach to this mix is daunting to say the least. My school does not believe in leveling the students before the year starts and will rarely move kids into the next grade level when they become aware of their fluency. They say they worry about their age and size and how they might not fit too well with the bigger and older kids. I've done some of this pretesting and I have given kids a score of ZERO English abilities yet I see them sitting in class that first day of school! His/Her parents are "VIPs" (which translates into they've slipped our principal a few extra yuan or they are government/police).

The good news is that if the students stick with it and if they can be paired with a quality teacher, their skills can grow very quickly. I have new first graders this year and already I can see some rapid growth. Unfortunately, I also see about 4 or 5 that haven't yet picked up on anything regardless of all the different teaching tricks I use. I am currently teaching 26 children Math, Language Arts (reading, grammar, writing, Phonics and Phonetics, etc.), Art, and a Spoken English course. It's a bit stressful for the first, oh, 3 months or so, but then it generally smooths out and the kids are used to me, I know their strengths and weaknesses and we fall into a good daily routine (morning calendar at first took about 15 minutes, now it's done in about 5). So I'm not worried AND this is not my first 1st grade class.
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1214

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
reasonably fluent but had very poor grammar and pronunciation


How is that 'reasonably fluent'??

What's next?

"He's fluent but doesn't know how to read."

"She's really fluent, but can't understand anyone when they talk to her."

"He's fluent but only knows a few words."

"She's fluent, but her grammar is completely wrong and she talks slow."

"He's really fluent but can only order beer and fried rice."

Can we just throw out the term 'fluent'? It's extremely vague and I don't really understand how any language professional can use the term in a serious context.
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Mr. Leafy



Joined: 24 Apr 2012
Posts: 194
Location: North of the Wall

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MisterButtkins wrote:
Quote:
reasonably fluent but had very poor grammar and pronunciation

How is that 'reasonably fluent'??

It is exactly what fluent is.

"fluency: Fluency refers to the ability to produce rapid, flowing, natural speech, but not necessarily grammatically correct speech. This is often contrasted with accuracy."

MisterButtkins wrote:
Can we just throw out the term 'fluent'? It's extremely vague and I don't really understand how any language professional can use the term in a serious context.

This is how (one way) you take it seriously.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1990.tb00669.x/abstract

I know learners who are strong in fluency and poor in accuracy and learners who are the opposite. It's a useful term.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MisterButtkins wrote:
Quote:
reasonably fluent but had very poor grammar and pronunciation

How is that 'reasonably fluent'?


Good question!!! I always thought fluency was more about 'flow' than accuracy so I looked up the def in Oxford's, Cambridge's, Macmillan's, Longman's, and Webster's online dictionaries. Oxford's, Longman's, and Webster's included the word 'accuracy' in their def's whereas Cambridge's and Macmillan's used the general term 'well'. I don't know about you but I view this as representative of their competing views of language competence. I've always perceived Cambridge and Macmillan as more supportive of communicative competence.

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kev7161 wrote:
I have seen many of the EFL teachers try to teach math in the same way they have taught "spoken English"


You're right about that. Fortunately, I have B.Ed credits and 2 practicums in Canadian public schools which will really help. The way math is taught these days is a radical departure to how it was taught even 10 yrs ago.

kev7161 wrote:
...the school allegedly "tests" students before placing them in the program, ...

IMHO, placement testing, and assessment in general, not the actual curriculum, largely determines where along a continuum from 'school' to 'daycare' the institution belongs. This is why critics argue America's No Child Left Behind policy places it well within the 'daycare' side. That's why I dropped out of the B.Ed program and left the previous 2 'schools' I worked at--if I wanted to work in a daycare, I'd apply at one.
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L00kingforwork



Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think CLIL can work with young learners. It's like immigrant families in North America sending their children to public schools. However, I'm not so sure if it can work well with adult ESL/EFL learners. Their focus should be on learning language; the content is only there to deliver the language. Even with ESP learners, they should already be experts in their own fields. Therefore, language instructors only need to teach them the language required to function effectively in their workplace. Can't kill two birds with one stone here.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 917
Location: China

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

L00kingforwork wrote:
I think CLIL can work with young learners. ...Their focus should be on learning language; the content is only there to deliver the language.


In theory, it can work. But it depends on many factors.

Conventional (language) schools especially here in Asia generally undermine intrinsic motivation by an over-dependence on a curriculum that controls and limits language input and practice to levels usually well below the capacity of the average learner. The result?, Disinterest, boredom, and in the end, students often don't even master the minimal amount taught.

As Kev7161 seems to suggest, this is not going to be an easy job. The thing to ensure is that language over-exposure doesn't undermine confidence. Classes are 2 hrs a session which I'm sure will put some to sleep, especially after a long day at school. Student placement considerations, class size, and student personality and attitude are going to be even more important factors, along with my ability to engage and maintain their interest.

There are virtually no (useful) comments on either of the 3 CLIL schools I've applied with anywhere on the web but I know enough now not to take that as a good sign.
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