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29 Oct 2019

Using Stories to Empower CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) classes

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Using Stories to Empower CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) classes


As a freelance teacher educator and full-time secondary teacher, I am often asked to deliver sessions to K-12 teachers especially primary or pre-primary teachers. Ambitions such as delivering interactive lessons applies to trainers as well as teachers. We always think about how to be more practical, self-exploratory, hands-on with self-discovery methods. Previously, I delivered CLIL sessions with scientific texts on different types of ostriches or reading text from Greek myths but I cannot say they were excellent learning opportunities for the audience so I felt I need to go back to basics and teach the new or little-known CLIL methodology via most basic stories.

Stories are both receptive and productive instructional resources that combine and integrate social values, content and language (Miller & Pennycuff, 2008). As a present strategy to language teaching, therefore, CLIL is the best framework to provide young learners with an efficient acquisition of some curriculum subjects (Bentley, 2010, p.6). In order to join a story and a CLIL workshop together, I chose the story “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” as it is a well-known story and it includes many things that could be integrated in a CLIL lesson such as; seasons, numbers, hygiene, food, beverages, healthy eating, parts of the day, etc. Also, the story has a great animation video by Eric Carle. After presenting the story with a storytelling approach, we watched the animation online by Eric. Then, the teachers were asked the design lesson plans on various topics out of the story. They came up with different ideas in their groups of four and five. Then, teachers presented their ideas showing different food pyramids they came up with such as (dairy products, fruits and vegetables), (vitamin, minerals, fats, proteins), healthy and non-healthy restaurant menus, life-cycle of a caterpillar etc. They were more creative than I thought.

Coyle (2005) takes content, cognition, communication and culture as a key theme using the storytelling approach. Such components should be created simultaneously and under the same circumstances (Coyle et al. 2010). The content of a CLIL class could be a popular tale, and the common content of the tale is an excellent foundation for the creative lesson. I cannot help mentioning the importance of scaffolding and asking suitable HOTs and LOTs questions according to level of our classes. HOTs questions refer to high order thinking skills which require students to think deeply. Depending on the level of our classes we should start from LOTs which require low order thinking skills and as teachers we should start from easy to complicated. Secondly, the lexical items in CLIL sessions might be too difficult for learners and even for the language teachers so we need to pre-teach some lexical items to make the content more comprehensible. The recently emerged themes such as 21st -century skills in our EFL materials which require us to be creative, providing collaboration among learners, urging them to think creatively and communicate. CLIL will definitely help us to achieve the learning outcomes of 21st -century.

Name of the contributor: Ferhat Karanfil

Institution: Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education- EU Projects

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