Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Breakthrough to CLIL for Chemistry and Physics

Cambridge University Press has just released a couple of books aimed at helping EFL students who are learning Physics and Chemistry through English to undertand the content of their subject courses and build the necessary English language skills for those contexts. The book is made up of several units, each of which covers an area of Physics or Chemistry. As for the areas of English language covered in these books, they have been selected for their relevance to understanding and discussing the content areas of Physics and Chemistry.




I  am sure the publications above will be of great help for  those of you teaching Physics and Chemistry through English. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Breakthrough to CLIL team on their great work.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Inquiry-Based Learning: Developing Student-Driven Questions in CLIL classrooms




Last August I read that Wildwood IB World Magnet School uses the inquiry-based model to put students in charge of their learning. This model is based on lessons that stem from student questions and harness the power of curiosity so   I asked myself: why don't we try doing the same in our CLIL contexts? Why not in every content area? 

When you watch the video above, I am sure you will agree that the model has to be effective if  a teacher utters a sentence as powerful as the following one:  

"All of a sudden,  we see our students doing things that really matter to them and they're excited and they're passionate and they want to talk about what they're learning".

How can we create a culture of enquiry? First of all, we need to create the atmosphere that allows students  to ask comfortably. If students don’t feel welcome in the classroom, they won't ask questions or engage in the learning. This is a great step in the right direction but it may not be enough because many students need support in asking questions and creating different kinds of questions for different situations. In order to fulfill this goal, teachers should use a variety of strategies, such as structured protocols and question starters to support students in asking effective questions.

At this point I would like to recommend a great book  by  Wiggins and McTighe:" Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding". You can read a very interesting extract from the book here which includes essential questions organized by areas.

You can also facilitate your students' inquiry-based learning through some ready-to-use  tools for the classroom. I reckon you will like this tool provided by www.edutopia.org. (It  also includes a task on note-taking and another one on vocabulary).

On October 13th we will meet for our  first seminar session and I will try and spend some time on  this engaging issue of "inquiry-based learning" and its usefulness in our CLIL classrooms.