Tuesday, 1 July 2014

My conclusions on MM4: Moodle for CLIL EVO


Moodle for CLIL EVO is the latest live session from Moodle MOOC 4 I attended at Wiziq, on 30 June 2014, nine in the evening, Spanish time.

It was a nice presentation by Letizia Cinganotto and Daniela Cuccurullo, who took it in turns to explain about the Moodle course they held for CLIL EVO (Electronic Village Online) and how they had approached the training about Content and Language Integrated Learning for their Italian teachers.

The added value of viewing this live webinar is that you can connect with other peers that are either into CLIL teaching already or that wish to start, and using the chat of the session room as well as the session page itself is a nice means to get to know others and interact. But, if you don't have time, you can always view the recording later on, as every MM4 session is available after the event has finished.

While I was listening to Letizia and Daniela, one of the questions I was wondering about is how come that we have been releasing Science, Maths, PE, Arts or you-name-it teachers out to the classrooms to approach their subjects in a second language, mainly English or French, without the adequate training. Is this fair, both on the teachers and the students?

My thoughts, not only regarding the session, but regarding the so called CLIL methodology that has spread over a wide range of European bilingual school systems, always spin over my head to land on two ends of the scale: 

On one end: I am an ESL teacher myself and I wonder what I would do if I was forced to teach any other subject in English. Even though I am a proficient language user, how could I manage to teach Science, or Arts, or whatever other subject in English? I simply wouldn't be able to, and the basic reason is that I do not have adequate CLIL training. I know the language, but I lack the contents.

On the other end, just the opposite: I am a PE teacher, just to name but one, and I am forced to teach PE in English, but my level of the language is poor. How would I manage? I simply wouldn't be able to; I know the contents, but I lack language skills.

From the beginning of the session, I could sense that in Italy, as in Spain, CLIL seems to have become a current key issue for teachers whose field of education is not Languages but other subjects taught in a second language, a methodology that has already been well adopted long ago in other countries with a rooted tradition of bilingual education, but which still needs consolidating in our country or in Italy, according to the speakers, both of them native Italians.

And this feeling transmitted by the presenters' words, examples, explanations, resources and best practices, brought me once again to the ends of the scale, and to come with a further matter for reflection: after all these many years of bilingualism, hasn't any educational stakeholder or decision maker realized that good CLIL training should have come first, before bilingual schools or classrooms were even considered?, Isn't this putting the cart before the horse?

Well, it seems that some Educational Institutions, such as the Italian Ministry of Education, where Letizia works, or the Spanish @educaINTEF are walking in the right direction now, as they are launching online training courses for CLIL teachers, or those to be, with the aim of actually using the methodology in the bilingual classrooms in an active way.

Better late than never, I guess!

The challenge is still big: combining high level language skills with good knowledge of the subject to be taught in the figure of one teacher is not an easy task to tackle, and it is only fair on students to be guided by an educator that knows his subject perfectly and speaks the language perfectly, too.

It is our responsibility, from whatever end of the scale we are, no matter which educational staircase and landing we have our flooring on, to shape up well-trained CLIL teachers, who are also proficient language users, in order to guarantee that our CLIL students will become truly bilingual citizenships with truly integrated content learning.

The key to success lies in engaging balanced online teacher training courses! CLIL EVO is one of them, and so is The Use of Open Educationl Resources for AICLE.


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