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CONTENT AND  LANGUAGE INTEGRATED LEARNING (CLIL)

 

 “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.  The human mind is our fundamental resource.”  -  John F. Kennedy

                                                           

Every human being on this planet is uniquely endowed with distinct talents.  Our success and failure depend on how we explore these intrinsic talents and build them up to our advantage.  There are many factors that determine the right discovery and development of inborn abilities of every person which include access to quality education, state-of-the art educational institutions, committed teachers, right education policies, career guidance, adequate resources, intelligent parenting, supportive family environments and safe social systems. 

 

Every country now understands that the future of a nation is safe in the hands of the educatedand hence the governments accord immense priorityto develop their prime asset - the human resource (HR).  To ensurethe all-round advancementand growth of every country, its government endeavours to facilitate high quality education for all its citizens.  Governments have constantly improvised theirapproach to education and established world class universities to impart the most appropriate learning opportunity to allits citizens. 

 

Coming to the education system, there are many types of teaching methodologies:

 

  • CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning.

 

  • PPP – Presentation , Practice and Production.

 

  • ESA  -  Engage, Study and Activate.

 

  • Task-based learning.

 

  • Situationalized Presentation.

 

  • TPR  -  Total Physical Response.

 

  • Multiple Intelligences

 

And many more

 

Our present focus is on the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), which is one of the methodologies being applied in most of the educational centres.

 

The ‘content’ is any subject such as science, history, social studies, technology, arts, music, mathematics and even every minute specialization of all kinds of topics.

 

In theCLIL, a subject is taught, wholly or partly, in a foreign language, most commonly in English because of its popularity across the world, apart from the mother tongue. Here, the language is used to build the ‘content’(subject) knowledge. On the other hand, the subject becomes the motivation to learn the language and boost its vocabulary.  Thus, subject and language become the twin centres of learning.

 

When a student is introduced to a topic through the CLIL lesson, the student uses all the four skills – speaking, listening, reading and writing, to enrich the subject knowledge.  This in turn, reinforces the language with the subject-specific terminologies. Thus the CLIL lesson becomes motivating, interesting and fun-filled besides making the student strong linguistically.

 

The first task is to get the student familiar with the CLIL pattern of learning all the subjects.  To ensure this, the following steps are recommended by CLIL experts.

 

  • Choose a topicfrom any subject such as photosynthesis, deforestation, atmosphere, wildlife, server system, any invention (mobile phone), transportation, triangles, a historical person (Alexander the Great) or event (The French Revolution) etc.

 

  • Choose the target vocabulary that the student has to focus on in the given topic.  This could be 10 to 15 words depending on the grade/class of the student.  For example, if the topic is photosynthesis, the target vocabulary list includes: photosynthesis, reactants, glucose, reactant, molecule, chemical, oxygenic, anoxygenic, organism, chlorophyll, electrons, cyanobacteria, algae, hydrogen, carbohydrates, oxidized, chloroplast, carbon dioxide, cellular respiration, adenosine triphosphate, evolution, photorespiration, conversion etc.  When these words, specific to photosynthesis, are learnt, the student gets a clear idea about the topic and can write or narrate easily about it. Thus, CLIL method gives the students the ability to connect them with other subjects that uses this vocabulary in a different context.   

 

  • Choose a grammar structure to focus on. This can be the tenses, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, appropriate use of parts of speech etc.  This step will enhance right comprehension of the grammar application in the content, which is essential in academic writing.  For example, all the historic events are written in the past tense, whereas, all science, math and geography related topics are generally written in the present (mostly simple present) tense.  Through these topics, the uses of tenses can also be easily taught.  The sentence structure – simple, compound, complex and complex-compound – can also learnt easily by analyzing each sentence of the topic.  The sentence structure helps to add more information in a single sentence to make it content rich rather than word rich.  The right use of prepositions, conjunctions, verbs, adjectives and adverbs can also be observed and learnt thoroughly from the topic. Thus the grammar also gets integrated into the subject and vice-versa.

 

  • Choose an additional reading text on the selected topic from any book, magazine, internet etc., to reinforce his or her topic knowledge and vocabulary learnt.  The standard of the text should match the grade level of the student.

 

  • Create a graphic organizer for the student that allows critical thinking and logical analysis of the information the student has learnt.  This graphic organizer can be a pie-chart, Venn-diagram, power point presentation etc, which permits visual learning.

 

  • Use the information / knowledge gained creativelyin a project, public speaking or writing assignment in the class. This step will allow them to personalize this topic with its specific vocabulary set for use in the future.

 

CLIL also involves conversation activities which helps students develop the ability to listen and confidently speak about the topics learnt in an authentic manner.  CLIL prompts the use of subject-specific vocabulary along with key sentence structure and other grammar aspects regularly.

 

CLIL also entails enhancement of sensory (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching) learning and uses different types of media including pictures and images, video and audio, and textto practice the subject and the language.

 

As our students also learn all the subjects in English, the CLIL topic lessonsare certain tocontribute to the international tests like TOEFL/ IELTS / SAT-1 etc, and prepare them for admissions to the top ranked universities across the world.  CLIL enables the students to encounter the future professional challenges with higher level of subject knowledge as well as language proficiency - both written and spoken.  Thus the CLIL methodology transforms every student into a GLOBAL COMPETITOR.

 

Subject and Chapter specific CLIL lessonsshall be discussed subsequently.

 

 

 

 

Sebastian Chacko