Saturday, 7 February 2009

Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Storyline context

During my practice period in an 8th grade in Øraker secondary school, Oslo in 2002/2003 I was given the opportunity to take part in the planning and execution of an inter-disciplinary Storyline. The topic for the Storyline was the industrial revolution. Since I was training to teach English I was eager to make my subject an integrated part of the Storyline. I therefore took the opportunity to introduce Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Planning the Storyline, I chose to include English teaching material covering some of the history curriculum that the students were to read. This was all based on the notion of creating a meaningful context for language teaching and I saw potential in second language teaching focused on content in an inter-disciplinary setting. The teaching situation of the Storyline made it easier to introduce a method of teaching (CLIL) that the students were not used to. The students were not particularly prepared for learning history/social science in English before the classes took place, but the Storyline concept was one with a surprise element, and in the beginning of the three-week period we focused on preparing them for the challenge this would involve.
To a certain extent some of the same principles lie behind the two methods of CLIL and Storyline, especially that of creating a meaningful context for learning; reflecting real life in school. Storyline can be used in many subjects, or in subjects combined with each other like we did. One of the basic ideas behind the method is that students acquire knowledge in a meaningful context. This is also an important argument for teaching subjects such as history or science in English, since the students then ideally will be focused on learning the content while acquiring language through this learning process. Due to the students' skills in English, I think it would be easier to introduce CLIL in upper secondary schools. On this level it is probably easier for teachers to find material in English that is not too difficult for the students, especially if you find a lot of your material online.
Interested? Read my article here: Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Storyline Context.
Illustration: I am here for the Learning Revolution

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