Thursday, 14 March 2013

The importance of teaching learning skills

Just read this excellent article by Peeter Mehisto, Criteria for producing CLIL learning material, which puts forward ten principles to guide the selection, development and design of CLIL lesson resources.

According to the article, quality CLIL classroom material should:
  1. make the learning intentions (language, content, learning skills) & process visible to students;
  2. systematically foster academic language proficiency;
  3. foster learning skills development and learner autonomy;
  4. include self, peer and other types of formative assessment;
  5. help create a safe learning environment;
  6. foster cooperative learning;
  7. seek ways of incorporating authentic language and authentic language use;
  8. foster critical thinking;
  9. foster cognitive fluency through scaffolding of a) content, b) language, c) learning skills development helping a student to reach well beyond what they could do on their own;
  10. help to make learning meaningful.
I particularly like the three-sided focus on learning in a CLIL context - language, content and learning skills – and how these all need to be addressed in terms of specific learning objectives for lessons, through on-going assessment and the particular support a learner is then given.

Moreover, a focus on learning skills could be an effective way for teachers to think about how these skills cross-over between their different subjects, and this could then be useful for planning cross-curricular projects.

Teaching learning skills in an explicit way in a CLIL classroom could include, for example, ways a learner can be supported in taking a step back and thinking about what they are doing, reflecting on their learning from different perspectives. So having pupils plan, monitor and evaluate their own work should become an essential CLIL teaching strategy. Get learners thinking about their learning; get them thinking about their learning of a specific subject and get them writing and speaking in English about their learning of this subject through English. This focus on learning skills adds another dimension to how we can think about CLIL.   


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