The Young Learners and Teenagers email discussion group is housed in yahoogroups and is famous for its activity and energy in many educational contexts and so it was a pleasure to lead a fielded discussion on the area of CLIL from Monday April 20th to Friday April 24th, 2009.
It is also a return to this area since the fielded discussion on CLIL in this group in 2005. Hence the title CLIL Revisited. There are four main sections to the summary: Defining CLIL; Assessment; CLIL Training; CLIL the future of TEFL. Each section takes a focus from the comments of the participants for ease of organization and there has been a concerted effort to present a range of the opinions expressed during discussion.What follows is a summary of a broad and deep discussion which reflects the rich makeup of the YLT group itself. The discussion is in the wake of the IATEFL Cardiff Panel Discussion on CLIL and continued debate in the media and through educational blogs and websites.
Colleagues wanted to clarify what exactly CLIL is, one colleague suggesting that CLIL is the latest bandwagon and another that it's something that has been going on for years. Discussion did begin to describe a CLIL Methodology, but it's clear that there is still a lot to do.
A colleague pointed out that teachers will always teach to the test whatever that may be. Colleagues also stressed that CLIL means that both the content and the language are taught and that is why both should be evaluated at the same time. Others suggested that with young learners assessment should avoid accuracy. One opinion was very strong about describing the risks of CLIL assessment for learners who know the content but don't have the language.
Discussion revolved around which kind of teachers should be trained for CLIL: Subject teachers or language teachers? A question related to this concerned confidence and competence among teachers to actually be able to carry out the job of a CLIL teacher. Teacher qualifications were considered to be of utmost importance if CLIL is to be successful and a number of colleagues stressed the problem of implementation and risks entailed in projects being rushed.
CLIL means a reevaluation of the role of the language teacher in the classroom and will mean more language teachers working more closely with the content curriculum in their language classes. The factors behind this phenomenon were discussed in depth.
As well as all of the above there was a wide range of specific examples given from many different contexts.
It feels like we really only scratched the surface and that there is still a lot to be done.