Tainan City has been actively conducting its bilingual education projects. The Office of English as the Second Official Language (OEASOL) cooperated with National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to hold a teacher-training workshop specifically designed for bettering the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) program. The workshop will be held in three sectors with the participation of teachers from 81 primary schools and secondary schools, some of whom are from Kaohsiung City and Yunlin County. The workshop incorporates theories and practices, inviting experts and representatives, who include foreign instructors, principals and directors, from schools that have installed CLIL to share their professional experience implementing the program. The aim of the workshop is to promote the philosophy of CLIL and fulfill the objectives of the new curriculum that will be introduced in 2019.
The OEASOL expressed that it is pleased to have a team of instructors at the workshop who are established scholars in the field, including four professors who are teaching English-related subjects in NCKU and National Kaohsiung Normal University, the principal of Tainan Municipal Simen Experimental Elementary School, Ms. Allison Lu, the academic director of Shengli Elementary School, Ms. Juliet Huang, and teachers who have had experience teaching with the CLIL model. Participants of the workshop are expected to develop a deeper understanding of the different environments in which CLIL is taught, as well as students’ needs, through actual demonstrations of the lessons. Teachers could plan their lessons in accordance with students’ proficiency in English and their ability in absorbing knowledge from other subjects, thereby prompting students to use English more comfortably. English teachers are also encouraged to cooperate with instructors of other academic subjects to create different platforms for a joined curriculum.
Each sector of the workshop lasts three days, during which participants, grouped, learn to use the teaching methods applied specifically in CLIL, simultaneously attempting to design lectures that model on other teams’ teaching. With the approval of participants, the organizer would then upload their proposals and demonstration videos to the official Facebook fanpage of the English-teaching and CLIL community in Tainan for future reference and promotion.
Emily Jensen, a foreign lecturer at Shengli Elementary School, as well as her students, shared their experience on what motivated students to take the first step in actually speaking English in class. Jensen stated that she had taken different approaches: she shared with her class intriguing photos and asked questions that would prompt her students to respond in English. “Having been doing this for a semester, students have established an assumption that taking Emily’s class means speaking English,” she added. Students from upper grades, on the other hand, use English in open-ended questions that not only sharpen their logical reasoning but also the ability to think independently and communicate efficiently.
Translanguaging, which refers to the process whereby multilingual speakers utilize their languages as an integrated communication system, is also a big theme in cross-subject education. Ben Clevenger, a foreign instructor in Heshun Elementary School, indicates that learning English should be stress-free; he encouraged students to express themselves with illustrations and gestures. He suggested “Personal Hygiene,” a specialized lesson that he designed himself, as an example: most of the handouts in this class are written in English, which are occasionally annotated with Chinese explanations. In doing so, Clevenger hoped that first-graders could fully understand the content whilst filling the blanks with their imaginations and through interactions with peers. “An interactive way of teaching not only allows students to demonstrate their abilities but also innovates the traditionally systematic practices that prevent students from thinking critically, solving problems creatively, and communicating effectively.”
Chen Sheng-chi, a participant of the workshop and an English teacher at Wunsian Elementary School, expressed that his greatest reward from the experience was knowing how to evaluate CLIL lessons. “Having seen the demonstration, I realized that CLIL focuses more on the content of the subject rather than the linguistic parts,” he stated. Chen also points out that currently, the biggest challenge to CLIL is instructors’ lack of knowledge of other academic subjects, which hinders their ability to design classes that provide content beyond English-learning itself. “This is why we need workshops like this. English teachers need to know how to work with other instructors to synthesize their lessons.”
Lin Yu-ying, the academic director at Singuang Elementary School and an English teacher herself, realized that it is important to “find someone who shares the same goal” if CLIL is to be conducted. Lin emphasized that cooperation is the core of CLIL, where designing, discussing, and giving lectures all require skillful interactions between individuals.
OEASOL stresses that, unlike the other workshops, participants in the CLIL workshop are grouped together and asked to give constructive feedback to others with their professional knowledge. They are expected to draft proposals that will further bilingual education in all subject areas, including mathematics, science, arts, music, PE, and integrated activities. Several teachers said that they have developed curiosity and interest in CLIL and look forward to applying what they have learned to their teaching.
The NCKU team expressed that its members are eager to build a CLIL platform where people can share their lesson plans and activities, as well as publishing CLIL-specific materials. More are expecting workshops like such to be held on a regular basis in the future in order to recruit more teachers in Tainan who are willing to join CLIL.