Teaching methods in Da Vinci’s International Primary School
What is CLIL?
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) — is a method of integrated content and language learning based on simultaneous teaching of new content from a curriculum area and contact with a foreign language — learning this language. This method is recommended by the European Commission to promote foreign language learning and linguistic diversity.
CLIL is an approach to bilingual education, in which both the curriculum area and the foreign language are taught simultaneously. This way school subjects are taught in a foreign language that the pupil is still mastering and keeps receiving language support.
It can be said that CLIL is a process of language learning through learning specialised content — the curriculum area defines the language skills to be acquired.
CLIL is not only a teaching method. First of all, it is an approach to the pupil as thinking individual, who may evaluate their own work and group work. Apart from language and content teaching, CLIL teaches features and skills that are indispensable in adult life, such as: analysis, synthesis, creativity, and self-reliance above all.
The teachers working with the CLIL method are experts in the area they teach, they both pass the knowledge and teach the language. They are fluent in the target language (English in our case) or they are native speakers.
The period between age of 6 and 10 is a special time for a child. Lots of changes and new challenges appear then. Together with acquiring cognitive skills and new abilities (e.g. joining the class, adding, subtracting) the child makes a giant leap in terms of logicalthinking — it becomes capable of cognitive and physical exploration of the objects it already knows in a new way.
In this period peer relations, peer acceptance, and gradual shift towards self-reliance become particularly important for the child. Learning motivation also increases and so does the knowledge acquisition potential. It is important that the right learning attitudes and habits of the child are shaped and strengthened, self-beliefabove all.
Stimulation of comprehensive development of the child remains the key goal, regardless of the content of the curriculum. In this regard, it becomes important (apart from what the child is learning) how the learningprocess is organised.
An important assumption is that the curriculum content and work methods are inseparable for all teacher activities, with regard to 7 areas of education (linguistic, natural, social, mathematical, artistic and technical, musical, and health-related).
Every child is exceptional and talented, and an interesting and differentiated teaching methods allow every pupil discover and develop their individual talents.
What does learning based on the CLIL method consist in?
The learning process in the CLIL method has been pictured in the form of a pyramid by prof. Benjamin Bloom, American psychologist and pedagogue:
Analysing successive levels of the pyramid from the bottom, we go through all stages leading to the achievement of maximum effects —gaining expert knowledge of the content.
At the bottom of the learning process pyramid there is remembering, since most school work is based on remembering the taught content (tests, short tests, credits).
Another level is understanding — the ability to compare, juxtapose, describe, and give examples.
Applying is already a practical skill — basing on the acquired knowledge, the pupil can solve problems, supplement missing information, and classify problems.
Another stage is analysing the knowledge gained. By this stage, the pupil has already acquired the skills that allow him or her to explore the subject and find the information they do not possess.
The last two levels of the pyramid are evaluating and creating, which require using the acquired information freely, systematising it, synthesising it and adding the ‘I’ factor — I know. At this moment, knowledge is no longer a goal and becomes a tool that can be used for further development.
Therefore, it is crucial that the pupils go through all stages each time as it guarantees that the knowledge acquired in the classroom will bear fruit in everyday life.
Benefits from multi-factor approach to learning present in CLIL:
How does bilingual education look in practice?
There are four models of bilingual education:
Lessons are run mainly in English, Polish is used to a limited extent; this model is applied when the level of language competence is high.
Lessons are run partially in English and partially in Polish (alternately); the amount of time devoted to each language is approx. 50%, switching from one language to another may be sudden and class context-related.
Lessons are run with limited use of English (so-called code-switching); the use of English does not exceed 50% of lesson time and occurs when appropriate.
English is used occasionally during the lessons. Both languages are used in the teaching and learning process, yet the foreign language is only an additional element in the process.
An example of model D are overview lessons run in English that sum up the unit discussed previously in Polish or lessons during which pupils partially use foreign language materials. Model D is also applied for running individual, group, or international projects.
Regardless of the model, a bilingual school must implement the curriculum.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
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