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Editorial: Focus on the CLIL 2010 Conference

Type: Article

Keith Kelly reports from the CLIL 2010 Conference in Eichstätt and shares highlights of the event and related resources on the site.

Dear readers,

My editorial comes to you live from Eichstätt, the venue for the CLIL 2010 Conference. I met and talked with dozens of people, all with their own CLIL stories and experiences, so, this month, I will relate some of them to you and link to some relevant resources on onestopclil.

Opening and welcome

Oliver Meyer was our host at the Catholic University of Eichstätt and he gave us all a warm welcome on the damp and misty autumn day of our arrival. David Marsh, event dynamo, spoke in the welcome of all the partners involved in making the conference a reality. One of the strengths of the CLIL Cascade Network (CCN) is the network itself and bringing colleagues together to share with each other at events like CLIL 2010. The onestop discussion forum, and onestopblogs, for me, are part of the same process of joining up the professional lives of CLIL colleagues around the world.

Isabel Peres Torres gave a speech on IT in education and presented Web 3.0 technology, inviting us to explore its exploitation in CLIL contexts. Which leads me to the eagerly anticipated onestopenglish relaunch in November, embracing Web 2.0 technology and allowing you to personalize your access to the site, find your favourite resources more quickly and flag up relevant materials for your colleagues.

Keynote messages

The keynote session was presented as a cascade event with several speakers following in quick succession. Here is a summary of some of the messages:

Hugo Baetens-Beardsmore kicked off proceedings in his inimitable style and reported on 'The Brain: An Educational Perspective'. His conclusion was that bilingual students are privileged because they have more options open to them. Their flexible minds, in part, come from the different forms of interaction and cognitive engagement they experience in education in terms of, among others, abstract thinking skills and creative hypothesis formulation. Take a look at our science experiments, for example Rocket mice, where you will find many examples of language embedded within a staged process of investigation, and hypothesizing, leading to presentations of observations and work done.

Gisella Lange talked about the 'Mainstreaming of CLIL', offering advice from her vast experience in Milan and beyond. I was delighted to hear that, in four years from now, all final year pupils in secondary schools throughout Italy will have one subject taught in a foreign language. There are a host of interviews and country perspectives in our archives on lessons from national contexts (see Laura Renart's article on bilingual education in Argentina) and regional projects (see Rosa Aliaga's piece on the Basque experience), and principles of management and implementation (see Brian Bielenberg's thoughtful text on the dangers of a top-down approach).

Kevin Stannard from the UK talked about assessment and this quote stood out - 'Students learn to pass, not to know. They do pass, but they don't know.' Assessment for CLIL simply has to be aimed at feeding into the learning process as reported in this article. I say this because CLIL is about skills and procedures as well as knowledge and language, and any 'test' needs to be designed in a way to inform future learning so that children learn to know.

Oliver Meyer spoke on 'resources' and is emulating theory in classroom practice through materials production at the University of Eichstätt / Ingolstadt CLIL. There they use the 4Cs as a framework for materials production (Kay Bentley has written on this area). I've written extensively on a framework for planning CLIL and Phil Ball's articles offer a wealth of guidance for mapping the CLIL teaching and learning process. Oliver impressed me with the following: 'When we talk about quality, it's not the C and the L, the content and the language, it's the integration.' CLIL resources do lead training. It is the very resources that teachers need, which sadly do not exist in many contexts, and so they create their own. I've come to believe and understand that CLIL teachers for this very reason need skills themselves in materials production; skills a lot of teachers just don't possess. These are skills, as Oliver stresses, which focus on that integration, that interface between content and language. The language support resources on this site follow this principle, but we don't just provide the resources, we provide tips (Using images in the CLIL classroom), techniques such as Jean Brewster's Thinking skills for CLIL and tools (like the templates for PPTs and looped speaking tasks) for colleagues to develop the skills they need to create their own resources.
Session focus

I went to listen to 'From bilingual teaching to CLIL: Scaffolding and Project Work' by Fernando Zapico Teijeiro from Spain. I found myself nodding quite uncontrollably as I sat and listened to Fernando report on his work in Asturias' schools as trainer and teacher. Fernando reports that there are many schools in his region with the 'bilingual' label, in reality very little of them practise any CLIL at all. I was glad I decided to attend because Fernando went on to give his perspective on what this practice entails - it means preparing language and embedding that language in content tasks. In a nutshell, Fernando works in a team of 14 language and subject teachers where they prepare CLIL projects with materials for use in the language classroom as well as in the content classroom. We have a lot to offer in terms of ideas and resources for project work in CLIL.

I spoke about 'Supporting Communication in the Content CLIL Classroom'. I wanted to engage the audience in discussion about what communication for CLIL actually is. I offered the following definition: communication for CLIL is language + opportunity. I spoke about identifying what the language is, and then went on to offer examples of how to create opportunity. My entire presentation is available at the FACTWorld site. Of course, onestop has masses of resources where the language has been carefully plotted and decisions made on embedding this language within task and one of my favourite examples of this is the Planets information search.

It's impossible to relate all of the CLIL stories here from the CLIL 2010 Conference. You can access many of the other presentations from the conference blog site to find out more.

I overheard someone say at the event 'It is THE conference for CLIL in Europe, if not the world.'

Hope to see you all at the next one!

Best wishes,

Keith Kelly

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