Teacher and teacher trainer Kay Bentley talks to Keith Kelly about the new CLIL Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) module, including the impetus behind its development and its benefits for CLIL teachers.

Tell us who you are and what you do

I'm a teacher and teacher trainer who has been involved in European CLIL projects since 1997. I have experience of both primary and secondary CLIL programmes and I really enjoy sharing my expertise with other CLIL teachers.

Can you tell us in brief what the TKT CLIL test is?

The TKT: CLIL test is a test of teachers' knowledge of the aims and rationale of CLIL, of lesson preparation, of lesson delivery and of assessment for CLIL. It's not a test of subject knowledge.

How long is the test?

It is an 80-minute test which has 80 items to be answered. The tasks are a mix of true/false, multiple choice, odd-one-out and 3/4/5/ option matching.

Who might be a potential candidate for the test?

The test is suitable for all CLIL teachers working in both primary and secondary sectors. They might be subject teachers or English language teachers. The test is also suitable for teachers working in EAL (English as an Additional Language) contexts and those who might play an important role as classroom assistants in all types of CLIL programmes. The candidates are mostly non-native speakers of English but native speakers who are working in CLIL programmes can also sit the test.

Is there a minimum entry level for the language of the candidates?

Candidates are expected to have at least an intermediate level of English (B1 of the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages); however, they are not expected to have taken English exam and they don't have to do the separate TKT test first.

 ... and experience?

From the trials of the test, successful candidates are likely to have some experience of teaching CLIL in school.

In a few sentences can you tell us why it's a useful test for teachers to take?

What some teachers have said is that the test and more importantly, preparing for it, leads to professional discussion and makes them think about their own teaching practice. 'Useful' and 'interesting' are the two most frequently used adjectives I've heard candidates say immediately after the test. So, for teachers, it is useful on many levels: reassuring them they are teaching CLIL effectively but also opening their minds to the many issues and challenges of CLIL.

What most of all makes it different from other teacher tests available?

I'm unaware of any other CLIL test for teachers.

Can you tell us what the impetus is behind the writing of the TKT CLIL test?

There are two parts to this answer:

First of all, the impetus comes from a developing and growing interest in CLIL not just in Europe, but worldwide.The launch of the test not only caters for the growing professional interest among teachers at grass roots level but also provides a framework of relevant areas of knowledge in readiness for future waves of global educational reforms. Governments, universities and other institutions involved in the training of teachers can make use of the TKT: CLIL syllabus as a basis for course design. This is what happened following the launch of TKT. Now Cambridge ESOL has built on the popularity of TKT and added this specialist module in order to support teachers and trainers who want and need this as a platform for professional development.

Secondly, the impetus comes from the ESOL CLIL team and their creative ideas. I had no idea how complex it is to write a Cambridge ESOL test because I was new to the rigorous process of testing. As a team, we aim to raise awareness of the complexity of teaching school subjects in a non-native language and to provide teachers with a means of consolidating their thinking about CLIL. It can be a lonely experience and a frustrating one if teachers don't have support and professional guidance in their schools. Perhaps we can provide some guidance.

... and what would you say in short is the benefit for teachers in doing the test?

To know there are people out there who understand CLIL and who can give them a step up professionally should they want to know more and should they want to have a qualification which is related to their lives in the classroom.

To read more about the test, see a glossary of CLIL terms and references, go to http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/teaching-awards/clil.html 

CLIL interviews