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  1. C L I L InPrimarySchool By Barbara Buchholz MA College of Initial Teacher Education, Eisenstadt, Austria, presented at CLIL workshop Vienna University, July 2005

  2. This presentation looks at • Primary curriculum (very briefly) • CLIL in primary school (i.p. Basic Interpersonal Com-munication Skills - BICS) • Action research in general • An action research project on BICS – A case study at an Austrian primary school © Profil

  3. What does theCurriculumsay? • English language acquisition should be expe-rienced within concrete and situative activities based on children‘s everyday life. (Aller Anfang5/98:12) • The English language should be applied inte-gratively within other school subjects (Sciences, Maths, Music, Physical Education) ...(ibid. page 15) • In these subjects English should be used as a means of instruction over certain periods of time in order to explain, describe or show simple facts ...(ibid. page 14) A call for CLIL ...?

  4. The Curriculumframe • English as a foreign language (EFL) is compulsory from year1 • No additional lesson time provided for EFL in year 1 & 2; one lesson per week in year 3 & 4 • EFL is integrated in other school subjects (except German) • Main objectives focus on communicative FL skills • Didactic principles include monolingual and cross-curricular English Language Teaching (ELT) A breeding ground for CLIL...?

  5. Integrating FL = CLIL ? ! “How is the FL to be integrated?“ The answer to this question is a matter of definition (and of teachers‘ views) AA matter of time slots in general primary tuition: There are five minutes left until the break, so let‘s do a little English... BA matter of subject swapping: In our music lesson we‘ll learn an English song today. CA matter of teaching the obvious: Let‘s talk about animals: fish swim, birds fly... DA matter of content based language teaching: Today you‘ll learn about the water cycle. _________________________________________________________________ A, B, C or D? “The discussion around that question is still ongoing and needs serious attention.“

  6. What is relevant for Primary CLIL? BICS Language Structures REFRAMING YOUNG LEARNERS‘ CLASSROOM DISCOURSE Lexis Extension FL Environment L1 Influence Primary teachers‘ FL competence Native speaker assistant‘s support


  8. Action Research - Definition Action Research is a family of research methodologies which pursue action (thus is change - improvement) and research (thus is enhancing understanding) at the same time. It uses a cyclic process alternating between strategic action and systematic reflection. (Dick, 2000)

  9. The Action Research Spiral Action research is perfectly suitable for case studies. In most cases action research is pure qualitative research.

  10. The Action Research Cycle Problem identification & questions Results, analyses & interpretation Exploration Action Research Reflection & data collection Hypothesis Application in practice Planning of action steps


  12. The Research OrganisationParticipants • 25 primary pupils aged 9 (third grade English emphasis class, i.e. 2 English lessons per week plus EFL integration from year1) • A teacher colleague as non-participating teacher observer • A pupil‘s mother as outside observer • A native speaker assistant as ‘language consultant‘ and outside observer • Myself as class teacher, inside observer and participating teacher-researcher

  13. The Research OrganisationSetting & Time • Original settings in primary school, classroom, school yard, gym • Normal English lessons respectively • Integrated English instruction sequences • School breaks • Research period: February to September 2002

  14. The Research MethodologyInstruments, techniques & sources • Research diary & fieldnotes • Lessons observations • Peer observation • Audio tape recordings • Students‘ inventories • Students‘ interviews • Students‘ protocols (initiated after first spiral) • Classteacher‘s documents (lesson plans, records, protocols) • Relevant literature and curriculum • Triangulation & discussion (teachers and students)

  15. Problem Identification “Long-term” problem: Students’ avoidance to speak English Initial Problem: Although receptive FL communication skills are sufficiently present, most students lack the productive component. Thus resulting in the fact that oral interactive communication as such cannot take place and Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) are not existing. Therefore, young FL students need special communication training, particularly in speaking. Research questions

  16. Problem Identification Initial research questions • Why do students predominantly speak German during English lessons? • Why do students permanently switch codes, even though the classroom language is English? • What can be done to improve the classroom discourse situation? Exploration

  17. The Research ProcessExploration & Reflection First inquiry steps • Self – reflection • Literature • Documents Teacher talk in lessons ‘Quick translations‘ vs ‘Explain in English‘ Amount/occasions of peer talk in class Buckmaster vs Krashen Peltzer-Karpf‘s studies on bilingual primary education Studies by Johnstone, Gerngroß Vygotsky‘s ‘Zone of Proximal Development‘ (ZPD) Lesson plans: exact definition of language goals Course books, teaching material etc (languages mix)

  18. The Research ProcessExploration - First inquiry steps • Concentrate teacher‘s own perceptions: When exactly do children switch codes? Are emotions helpful or distractive? Does hearing German have any negative impact? • Teacher observer‘s appraisal: ‘Differing‘ views • Exploratory teacher discussion: ‘Common‘ fact • Students‘ discussion: ‘Lack of chunks‘ • Research Diary • Preliminary Inquiries First conclusion

  19. The Research ProcessFirst conclusion As the classteacher I had to accept, that there was a need to change my own unstructured approach and more or less random use of L1 / L2. Teacher and students had to avoid language mix without any exception. In order to achieve this, appropriate action steps were to be developed. They should meet students‘ needs. Hypothesis

  20. Hypothesis Creating a monolingual FL classroom language environment will provoke (predominant) monolingual FL classroom discourse that is conducive to develop basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) for content and language integrated learning (CLIL). End of first spiral

  21. First spiral results Research Issues • Language management • Language education • Language contents Classroom Timing Grouping Social interaction Consequence measures Awarding Communication tools Output remedies Subject-specific terms Supplementary material

  22. Further spirals -Action Strategies • The EZ • Flag-Is-Up Language Management The ‘ English Zone‘ – an ‘as-if‘ monolingual model Spatial division of language environment No German at all – and for all! Free access, voluntary stay Inclusion of devices (PC, piano, reading corner, pet) Expanded EZ Regular ritual – action and shouts Hoisted flag and classroom door

  23. Further spirals -Action Strategies • Social interaction • Matchstick system • Red card Language Education Games, drama, cooperative tasks Group monitors - group awards ‘Refugees‘ and ‘penalty‘

  24. Further spirals -Action Strategies • Posters • Stickers • CTA Language Contents Speech models Metaphors Visuals Dialogue sets ‘Word-pool‘ Come-Together-Activity Music or FL background

  25. Further spirals –Data collection Teacher‘s reflection (permanent) Outsider observation Teacher observation Peer observation Tape recordings Students‘ discussion Teacher observation Peer monitoring Students‘ protocols Teacher observation Outsider observation Students‘ discussion • LanguageManagement • LanguageEducation • LanguageContent

  26. Further spirals –RESULTS LanguageManagement EZ & Flag • Surprising success – very high motivation to speak • Average 85% of pupils used EZ even in the breaks • 75% more speaking activity (words & phrases) • Active use of passive vocabulary doubled (words) • High effort was made – no one wanted to leave the zone • NLP and role-play happened unconsciously • Speaking blockades were overcome – no ‘stuck-states‘ • Voluntary brain wreck exposed students‘ idleness in former settings • 17 pupils built an ‘English Zone‘ even at home • Arguments about peer observation rules • Students‘ observation records were biased • Danger of temporary restriction of EZ‘s appeal

  27. Further spirals –RESULTS LanguageEducation Interaction Matchsticks Red card • Stronger impact of all interactions in the EZ • Less pressure – EZ could be left • More flexible implementation • Children ‘invented‘ English learning strategies (in L1) • 75% appreciated justification/rewarding system • Code-switching rate decreased from 25% to 2% • Students as organisers – raised self-esteem - Applicable only in EZ • Very strong effect – only 4 cases in 2 weeks • Deterring rules (the penalty - ‘a housewife‘s job‘?) • Action step dropped

  28. Further spirals –RESULTS LanguageContents Posters Stickers CTA Music & English • Very high motivation through active participation • Children‘s genuine conversation phrases recorded • Creative hands-on learning with script and text • Contextualized language application done by students • All children involved autonomously at flexible levels • Boosting effect on English peer talk (15% - 65% average) • Wide scope for inspiration (choice of CTA topics - CLIL) • Decreasing embarrassment in speaking English • Concentration plus fun maintained – no one left out • Diversion, improvisation, pantomime – adventurous but serious language learning, self-directed and rewarding • Monolingual FL classroom discourse periodically realised! • CTA results not transferable to working situations • Posters/stickers and CTA need lots of space and time

  29. The Action Research Cycle Research Evaluation Problem identification & questions Results, analyses & interpretation Exploration Action Research Reflection & data collection Hypothesis Application in practice Planning of action steps

  30. Research Evaluation Inventories & interviews Students‘ feedback on action steps

  31. Research Evaluation Inventories & interviews Students‘ feedback on the observers

  32. Research Evaluation Inventories & interviews Did you improve your English?

  33. Research Evaluation Inventories & interviews How do you like speaking English now?

  34. Discussion & students‘ comments • I didn‘t know how to speak English and what to say... • It‘s so cool to really speak English... • We want to keep the English zone in our classroom... • I‘ve always wanted to know what‘s „Halt den Mund!“ in English... • First they (group monitors) were unfair, but it worked out finally... • The CTA is my favourite game... In English only... • Now I‘m not afraid anymore of travelling to England. • It was great to see that I speak a lot better than my elder brother. • I helped my mother translating an English pop song.

  35. Teachers‘ quotes • I never thought that this is going to happen… • (Teacher observer) • It was amazing when children started speaking unconsciously… • (Native speaker assistant) • I could not believe what I saw in that class… • (Headteacher)

  36. Parents‘ quotes • I‘ve also benefited from that project by adding a big deal of • everday English to my business vocab ... (Outside observer) • My children are building an “English zone“ at home... (Mother) • My younger son is challenging his elder brother – • he speaks much better English … (Father)

  37. ConclusionAnswering Research Question 1 Why do students predominantly speak German among each others during English lessons? • Thoughtlessness • Pure idleness • Lack of motivation • Lack of vocabulary • Lack of language structures • Embarrassment • Fear of being laughed at

  38. Conclusion Answering Research Question 2 Why do students permanently switch codes, even though the classroom language is English? • Lack of concentration • Lack of motivation • No vocabulary available • No language structures available • Teacher uses L1 • Shyness • Inhibition & fear of being corrected too often

  39. ConclusionAnsweringResearch Question 3 What can be done to improve the classroom discourse situation? • Set clear goals and reflect on achievements • Set spatial language environment zones • Make vocabulary available (stickers) • Make language phrases accessible (posters) • Use L2 only • Set flexible steps towards self-directed learning • Motivate for practice (topics beyond schoolbooks) • Provide tools for peer- and self-control

  40. Action Research Aims Achieved End • Overall FL competence improved • Receptive and productive FL use increased • Better quality lessons • Monolingual English classroom periodically present • BICS predominantly realised

  41. Whenchildren find themselves in the company of others who speak other languages, they will make aneffort to understand and use the new language. (Brumfit, 1991) Exploit this benefit for your English lessons!

  42. THANK YOU FOR YOURATTENTION ! This action research project was carried out during my MA study in Education (Foreign Languages Pedagogy Focus ) at Norwich University, England 2001 – 2004 Barbara Buchholz