Number one for English language teachers

CLIL training

There was broad agreement in the discussion that there is almost no pre-service training for CLIL. There was also a suggestion that what in-service training there is 'is patchy at best and is often done in a very ad hoc manner'.

Anchor Point:1Subject teachers or language teachers?

There was some discussion on the issue about which teachers should be trained for CLIL. First of all, do colleagues actually think of themselves as CLIL teachers? The answer is clearly 'no'. There is a report from the Gaztelueta Foundation conference for multilingual education in the Basque country where an audience was asked how many of them consider themselves CLIL teachers. Only one person raised their hand. One other colleague states it as follows: Having worked with subject and language teachers in a 'CLIL' environment in the UK and overseas for more than 10 years, I would like to state categorically that I have yet to meet a CLIL teacher.

Anchor Point:2Confidence and competence

A colleague asks how many teachers are really confident (or competent) to teach an integrated course that involves a substantial component of science, geography or maths? The idea sounds great for a school head or a ministry where there may be interest in getting teachers integrating content and language and we'll a) give learners more exposure to the FL and b) it'll cost us no more and we get teachers to do two jobs. In reality, where large-scale national projects have undertaken English-medium subject teaching there have been many problems simply because of this lack of foresight: inadequate training for teachers, lack of (if any) resources, bad PR with the general public etc, etc. Sadly, it gives CLIL a bad name and this is highly unfair for those contexts where it is being done well, it is well resourced and teachers get a lot of support to do what is a huge job.

Anchor Point:3Teacher qualifications

The issue of teacher qualification is very important. In Bulgaria to teach a subject the teacher must be highly qualified. A language teacher will not be allowed to teach the subject without going through some form of qualification. The problem is that not many people are willing to go through all the trouble of getting extra qualified, when they know that in the end, they will not get much more money for doing something far more complicated than what they are doing now. CLIL teachers need more support and motivation. Without well trained teachers, CLIL will always be somewhere vague. This is the same situation in France. A teacher who has gone to all the trouble of having their "English" quality-stamped by the inspectors in order to teach history/physics/art history in a foreign language, will not earn a penny more. The level of English required officially is C2, but given the limited number of candidates, this is "flexible" and open to appreciation. If a teacher changes school then the option can simply disapear - unless a willing victim can be found.

Anchor Point:4Implementation and risks

One colleague is convinced that ‘failures’ are caused by over-zealous implementation by powers that be who do not understand what needs to be in place before such an ambitious decision of introducing a second language which is high stakes. On top of that, systems then make the stakes even higher by assuming that teachers can magically become subject teachers when they’ve been trained as individual subject teachers (language or another content).

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