Why we should not teach a language only

 Some might ask WHY? Why do I want to spend long hours preparing something for a lesson while in their opinion teaching English itself is enough. Honestly, such a question proves that the person I'm talking to isn't a (good) teacher. Sadly, sometimes in fact this question is asked by a person claiming to be the one. I had a chance to cooperate with people whose lessons were artificial, with no interpersonal contact and, what's even worse, left nothing in students' minds. To my mind such "teachers" should deeply revise their decision. No matter what you do, try to be professional and... happy. You spend most of your life working! I am lucky to say that I adore what I do. Teaching gives me energy, enthusiasm and satisfaction.

I came across a quote that reflects my beliefs, so there it goes:

Teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young children must impart English skills at the same time that they foster socialization; heighten an awareness of the self, the immediate classroom community, and the community beyond the school; introduce content concepts; and expose students to art, drama, literature, and music. They must accomplish these objectives through enjoyable activities that address the whole child—the child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. (Schinke-Llano and Rauff 1996)


4 C's you have to bear in mind

When I got to know what I CANNOT forget about while planning a CLIL lesson it seemed to be as difficult as driving. To be honest - I don't drive although I have been a happy (?) holder of a driving licence for over 10 years.
Therefore, I really think CLIL is fantastic as being much safer than driving (even if I make any mistake I won't ruin my health or property hopefully) it gives me a chance to learn, improve my personality, be more systematic at work.
Let me reveal some of the ingredients that  a good CLIL lesson must contain to be successful.

4C’s’: Content, Communication, Cognition, Culture (Citizenship or Community)

CONTENT - without "a subject" there is no CLIL. That is, in fact, in my opinion the biggest change in teaching. We move towards curriculum, interdisciplinary attitude.
COMMUNICATION - this is what I really appreciate. Our educational system seems to be unaware what a language actually is. It's is not a book full of magic spells! Graduates leave schools knowing perfect grammar, but unable to make a more complicated sentence, ashamed of speaking in a foreign language not to mention expressing their thoughts.
COGNITION - coming back to a Polish educational system we will probably see that practically the first serious moment when a young person is forced to self-study is at the university. CLIL uses various techniques of work to widen the span of our cognitive abilities. It is scientifically prooved that bilingual children are more intelligent and learn easier.
CULTURE - children will not learn something being far from reality or their interests. There is no place for artificial topics. CLIL tries to show the content in a familiar, digestible way. Easy to aplly to students' life and experience. What's more, a good CLIL lesson should end up in a better understanding of students' culture, environment and enhance their involvement as citizens.

This is me preparing the lessons for a new school year ;)


This time I am going to write personally, as a teacher.
I started teaching English by a coincidence, being a poor student who wanted to have some pocket money for books and parties. My qualifications at that time were simply limited to knowing basics or more of English, having some books from times when I was a pupil and being really desperate to succeed. So I started fighting for students to teach them one-to-one.
Some of them didn't come back after the first lesson.
I didn't realise how difficult and time-consuming it was to TEACH!
At the same time I began giving lessons in the kindergarten. 8 children, 1 classroom and me in the middle. I ended up in tears frequently. Sounds terrible? Yes, it was a nightmare.
Looking back from the perspective of over 10 years I have to say that the most difficult part was to stop concentrating on myself. I had to learn the student; become empathetic, patient, open-minded, willing to help. It's a toughest part of the job. Teachers tend to forget they are to serve, indicate, support those who they teach to.
When I managed to "kick myself out" of the centre of attention students stayed with me longer and longer. In fact, some of them I know longer that a half of their lives.
But that's not the answer to the title question yet. So why CLIL?
The revolution in my mind started a year ago. Having my own children I started wondering what is a right attitude towards children? How can I be a better parent than my mother was? At the same time I met some people who represent a completely revolutionary methods of upbringing. All these factors made me more aware of what children want from adults; how they want to be treated.
CLIL is a combination of language that I am used to teaching, content that I really love including into my lessons and empathetic assessment and perception, that I personally think, is a key to success in teaching on the whole. Another element most important for me as a teacher, mother and citizen is that CLIL shows children how to be independent, assertive, communicative and tolerant to others. All these aspects I had to learn as an adult that definitely was a reason for some failures in earlier stages of my life. I would like to save it to my children and students.

What is CLIL?

CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. It refers to teaching subjects such as science, history and geography to students through a foreign language. This can be by the English teacher using cross-curricular content or the subject teacher using English as the language of instruction. Both methods result in the simultaneous learning of content and English.

CLIL word cloud
The term CLIL was coined by David Marsh, University of Jyväskylä, Finland (1994): "CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language."
However, CLIL teaching has been practised for many years, from the Babylonian era to the early sixties when bi-lingual education was introduced in many schools around the world.*

* quoted from: http://www.onestopenglish.com/clil/what-is-clil/

What does it mean in practice?
Well, for a student the answer would be that CLIL makes a lesson in English more interesting as they would be given a chance to learn about something familiar, connected with their hobbies or school curriculum. That would also mean that such a lesson is full of communication, laughter and creativity accompanied by a variety of tasks. Such a lesson means you would like it to last (almost) forever!


Hello Everyone!
Via this blog we are going to present our first official steps taken along an adventurous path called CLIL.