Friday, April 7, 2017

To CLIL or not to CLIL?



I've just finished my first teacher training course. I was extremely happy to get this opportunity since it is something I would like to do in the future. My school organised a TKT CLIL exam prep and my group consisted of 11 Italian state school teachers.

When I said yes to doing this class, I had to brush up on exactly what this TKT CLIL exam and CLIL itself was all about. As a bilingual child, I've basically gone through CLIL myself and can't speak highly enough of it but in reality, it all bubbles down to the teacher's own agenda, willingness and knowledge. Having had a very positive experience, I felt it was imperative to communicate my enthusiasm for this way of teaching to my "students".

Now, what is the TKT CLIL exam?
The TKT CLIL exam is a Cambridge provided exam, part of the TKT scheme which Cambridge describe as

"TKT is a flexible series of modular teaching qualifications, which test your knowledge in specific areas of English language teaching. You can take as many modules as you want, over any time period. You receive a Cambridge English certificate for each module you complete."

TKT CLIL is one of the offered specialist modules which should be taken after the original TKT Module 1,2 and 3, but can be taken on it's own as well. It all depends on the teacher's willingness and prior knowledge. It obviously contains a mountain of methodology terms and challenging practices that need to be assimilated and reasoned on.

The test in itself is not overly complicated, a multiple choice paper-based test with 80 questions that are worth 80 points and you have 80 minutes to do it. Your results place you within 4 bands(1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest), with an average of 45-50 points placing you in the 3rd band.

But, why take the TKT CLIL exam?
That was the first question I considered when I said yes to dong this course. Why are my students coming in for a 2 hour class packed with tongue-twisting methodology terms, laborious teaching practices and anglo-saxon new-age logic?
My answer was: to better oneself and hence to better prepare ones students. 
Highly idealistic you would say...but throughout the course I noticed my initial assumption was right. My students were there to learn new tricks, experiment new things, challenge themselves and ultimately get a certificate that proves this new acquired knowledge.
So why do it? Because it will make teaching fun and new and rewarding. It's a bit like experienced Celta without the assignments, deadlines, sleepless nights and overload of info.

Last but not least, why CLIL?
CLIL is a world. A magical, difficult, challenging, gratifying world. It means offering our highly globalized kids a real chance, a higher competence, more realistic expectations when deciding to study abroad, a wider cultural spectrum, a classroom that most times levels the playing field and yields surprising results. CLIL is all about giving non-native kids the chance to feel and employ the language, whatever language that is, while at the same time developing their cognitive, learning and coping skills through learning subjects. The focus is on the subject, not on the language. Great mathematicians will need help from great language speakers, and viceversa. You might be the best in History, but will it be the same once you have to use French or English to learn it? You might be a great player, but can you be a great team player? You might have an excellent memory, but can you analyse the information you are given and give your opinion on it? This is what CLIL aims to do.


At the end of my class, we all felt empowered, proud, positive. I was proud of my students for all they had achieved and they were proud of themselves. I felt like I had laid the cornerstone to something great for my future as an ELT teacher, and they felt more confident about their teaching. 
I can honestly say I can't wait for the next class.
In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for my students taking their exam mid April!




The Sound Eater


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