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Teacher collaboration in Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

Collaboration and support among teachers is efficient for various education activities. Collaboration is especially significant in Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classes. However, very often teachers have a lack of understanding about CLIL and teacher collaboration in CLIL. There are not many studies conducted on this topic. So in this blog I would like to throw light on two relatively new studies investigating teacher collaboration in CLIL.

Collaboration in CLIL is a teamwork of content subject teachers and language teachers. Some researchers (García & Vázquez, 2012; Rymarczyk & Yearwood, 2016) studied the way how content and language teachers work together and explored different types of collaboration. Research findings were controversial in some contexts. For instance, content teachers in one Andalusian school really appreciate collaborative work with language teachers (García & Vázquez, 2012). On the other hand, some language assistants show misunderstanding of “the connection between content and language in the CLIL class, not having a clear idea of the role language plays in the learning process” (p. 584). Thus, language teachers in this school focus mostly on teaching vocabulary needed for content classes and repeating information previously given by content teacher. In this case, I think the collaboration among teachers is far from efficient, because language teachers do not really understand their role in CLIL classes.

The opposite situation seems to happen in Germany, where Rymarczyk and Yearwood (2016) investigated cross-curricular collaboration between content and language teachers. After conducting surveys researchers found out that content teachers do not want and do not ready to get help from English teachers. At the same time, English teachers show high level of willingness to provide support for content subject teachers. Rymarczyk and Yearwood (2016) also highlighted that despite opposing views both content and language teachers admit that collaboration helps them to save time. Moreover, while working together teachers build so called “parallel collaborative structure” and improve their communication and positive attitudes toward each other (p. 266).

All in all, I want to highlight that teacher collaboration in CLIL is crucially important. It is even seems impossible to provide quality content and language teaching without teacher collaboration. The main problem that should be addressed is teachers’ misunderstanding of this collaboration.

How do you think what other benefits can teacher collaboration bring to CLIL classes, that were not mentioned in the blog?

References:

Photo credits to: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/457045062155040757/

García, M. del C. M. & Vázquez, V. P. (2012). Investigating the coexistence of the mother tongue and the foreign language through teacher collaboration in CLIL contexts: perceptions and practice of the teachers involved in the plurilingual programme in Andalusia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(5), 573–592. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2012.670195

Rymarczyk, J. & Yearwood, T. (2016). 1 subject + 1 subject = 1 subject-teacher? Teacher beliefs on cross-curricular collaboration in forming the design of CLIL degree courses. Language in Different Contexts,7(1), 260-268.

Want to find a way? Keep asking questions.

"I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; 
but the great question is, what?"
Lewis Carroll (1865), “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

“That is a very good question!” the phrase we hear in response and the phrase that, due to my current research interest, recently has started attracting my attention. While my research is on questions asked by teachers in class, thinking about the ways and reasons for query is a skill that can guide every student when reading, listening, and working on a research project. Unlike other posts of mine, this one is not aimed at building or proposing an argument, rather giving a recommendation, as some resources related to my project, ultimately, can be of relevance for those involved in research in general.

The significance of asking questions was acknowledged long before our century. The works by Plato appraised Socrates’s teaching skills to use questions to guide learners in solving some geometric problems. Similar technique, recognized now as “Socratic method”, used (we know from Plato) to interrogate his opponents in public debates on moral principles. He was acting as a person knowing a little about the issue and constantly responding with questions. The Socratic method is, basically, asking a person, you are in dialogue with, a series of questions and follow up questions (Stenning et al., 2016). This can be very frustrating, for both, the person asking and the person answering the question: even a few questions might reveal that you do not know much about the topic. However, the realization that you may be lacking some knowledge on the area of your interest can be motivating for learning it deeper. Thus, ask as many possible question on your topic before you arrive at the most important one.

Once, you are clear with what you are going to research, you have two option to lead you through the process: “the sponge” and “panning for gold” principles (Browne & Keeley, 2007, p. 3). While the first is passive in nature, the second is more engaging and involves asking questions. I think you would prefer positioning yourself as active learners. Browne & Keeley (2007) suggest “[t]o make this choice, you must read with a special attitude—a question asking attitude…The writer is trying to speak to you, and you should try to talk back to him, even though he is not present” (Browne & Keeley, 2007, p. 4). This means asking every single material questions, such as, What is my conclusion? Why would I believe in what someone is trying to convince me? Posing questions to yourself leads to better understanding the topic and providing further directions for your work.

To conclude, the readings suggest that there are no right or wrong questions and there are no bad and good answers, as long as they are related to your topic. Keep asking questions and, more importantly, looking for the answers. This strategy will help you in making right decisions for your project.

Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking (8th ed.).  New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

 

 

Accountability matters

Nazarbayev Intellectual School International Research-to-Practice Conference created academic environment where presenters and participants could exchange ideas on various education topics. One of the most inspiring sessions for me was UNESCO Report presented by Katarzyna Kubacka. Presenter devoted considerable attention to the notion of accountability. Before attending this seminar I did not have a clear view of this notion. Katarzyna highlighted in her speech that accountability can be used to solve different problems in education. Government, teachers, parents, students, international organizations and private sector all can influence and change education system. All of them can effectively work together and all of them have a role to play. Since accountability is mostly linked to the individual institutions, each of the above mentioned stakeholders is accountable for a particular area in education. Stakeholders can fix problems within one specific field; however they cannot be accountable for things that are beyond their control.

Katarzyna Kubacka outlined that sometimes key stakeholders try to avoid accountability. For instance, it happens when government transfer accountability for education failures on teachers. Thus, it often happens that teachers are solely blamed for students’ poor learning outcomes. I think, that in some cases teachers are asked to be accountable for things that they cannot fully control. As O’Neill (2013) pointed out in his article “Intelligent accountability in education” authorities often make teachers accountable for “bogus units of measurement” in students’ assessment (p. 14). Author also highlighted that it is meaningless to require teachers for reporting back on all kind of assessment, because not everything in education system can be measured. Accountability first of all should be aimed at achieving a quality equitable education for all. Moreover it should stimulate the progress of education. Since accountability cannot be shared, every stakeholder can be accountable only for a particular part of the common work. At the same time they should work in collaboration to improve functioning of education system.

Refrences:

Photo credit to https://bustin.com/executive-leadership-blog/how-to-create-clarity-confidence-and-accountability/

O’Neill, O. (2013). Intelligent accountability in education. Oxford Review of Education, 39(1), 4–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2013.764761

Ancient curse in the modern world? Linguistic diversity as a blessing or as a burden?

 

European parliament
Tower of Babel

Almost every nation in the world has its own specific language and culture.  In the episode “Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language?” professors from different fields discuss possible costs and benefits of linguistic diversity to our societies.

As I have noticed, speakers in the beginning of the episode tried to give information to the audience in an interesting and entertaining way. They supported ideas with examples from personal experience and I found some stories to be really funny. For instance, one of the professors explained that his journey toward studying languages starts at the age of four when he fell in love with a girl speaking different language. Regarding the context and purpose of the discussion, we see how speakers provide some reasons and evidence to support their opinion on linguistic diversity. Director of the economic school Mr. Weber remarks that from the economic point of view linguistic diversity comes at a high cost and has a negative impact on countries’ economy. He used a “linguistic distance” metric in his study and found out that people from different countries speaking the same language can raise their trade benefit by ten percent. Furthermore, Mr. Weber asserts that linguistic diversity in one particular region can lead to linguistic war like in Sri Lanka. Professor McWhorter in his turn stated that linguistic diversity of the world is important for our societies and nowadays it is in danger. He points out that we have about twenty big majority languages that can eat up small minority ones. Consequently in the next century there will be not 7000 spoken languages, but only 3000. To support the importance and benefit of linguistic diversity professor Boroditsky outlines that bilingual people may have better results in some cognitive processes than monolinguals. In addition to that bilinguals are less susceptible to Alzheimer and dementia.

It was interesting and new for me to find out a connection between the European Union and the Tower of Babel. I agree with Mr. Weber that European Union can be an example of our modern Tower of Babel. All members of the European Union have different official languages. Moreover, they have to spend a tremendous amount of money on all translations that make collaboration process very difficult. As you can see on the pictures the European parliament building resembles the Tower of Babel by its construction.

Dear readers, I would be interested to know your opinions on the following questions:

How can humankind overcome all possible costs of linguistic diversity and safe minority languages?

Do you agree that the European Union has some parallels with the Tower of Babel?

Photo credits to:

https://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/the-european-union-and-the-second-vatican-council/

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2011/06/15/english-showing/