Monday, 31 October 2011

CLIL Inspirers: Ted Wragg

CLIL could be described as an eclectic methodology that draws on a range of educational theory and practice.

There are therefore many CLIL inspirers. The late Ted Wragg has been one such inspiration for us, especially his work on the importance of effective questioning and getting learners to think. One reason this is important in a CLIL context is because second language acquisition theory shows that learning a language requires input that is meaningful to learners – so getting learners to think and then to talk or write about problems that they find interesting and thought provoking is also important for their language learning.

In this film Ted discusses the importance of effective and stimulating questions for learners in a classroom.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bilingual vmbo

Facts about tvmbo and book "Proud to be tvmbo"
In October 2011 the book “Proud to be tvmbo” was published by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (ex-IVLOS) at Utrecht University, written by Rosie Tanner and Rick de Graaff. It is the result of a short research project of 200 hours into good practice in tvmbo. The book is written in accessible language for teachers and management working in or planning to work in tvmbo (or bilingual pre-vocational secondary schools).

I am writing a few blog entries about parts of the book which I think are interesting for our readers. This blog is a “did you know...?” one!

Did you know…
  • there is a network for vmbo schools which have already started bilingual vmbo? If you are interested, contact Leo van Putten ,the chair of the network. His email address is:
  •  there are 5 schools that started tvmbo in 2010?
  •  there are 31 schools in the tvmbo network already?
  • there are 14 schools that have already started tvmbo?
  • there is a quality standard for tvmbo schools?
  • tvmbo schools must give a minimum of 30% of their classes in English?
  • for tvmbo GL/TL, students have to achieve a level of B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (commonly known as the CEFR) in either reading OR listening, and in either speaking or writing?
  • at least two subjects in the curriculum must be in English?
  • teachers teaching in tvmbo have to have a level on the CEFR of at least B2?

 Tanner, R. & de Graaff, R. 2011. Proud to be tvmbo: Teachers’ and students’ opinions about good practice in bilingual secondary vocational education (tweetalig vmbo). Centre for Teaching and Learning, Utrecht University. ISBN 978-90-393-5566-4

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

MTV = Maximum Time Verbals

One of the biggest challenges facing teachers in the TTO is how to get their learners to speak English in their lessons. One approach could be for a teacher to focus on reducing the amount of time they speak in front of the class in order to shift the focus onto the learners’ spoken output.

So, for this reason I've been encouraging teachers to use the MTV rule. MTV stands for Maximum Time Verbals, meaning the maximum time a teacher talks for a given moment in a lesson (not the maximum time for the whole lesson). This amount should not exceed the average length of a music video on MTV (the television channel) – 3 minutes.

The idea then is to plan instructions, explanations, etc. that will be given to the whole class in order to ensure that each time these can fit into three minutes. After that the learners will then do an activity, such as a speaking task. Imagine then that all the spoken output in a lesson (teacher and learners) could be transcribed, producing a ‘script’ of the lesson. This then would be the spoken ‘content’ of a lesson. What would the ratio be between teacher’s spoken contribution and the learners’? How about aiming for a 20/80 ratio? That means 80% of the lesson’s spoken content is produced by the learners.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Teaching the concept of connotation

It might be interesting to use this image in a lesson to discuss the connotations of particular words (always a difficult topic to convey to second language learners). Click on the image for a larger view.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

EIO and outdoor activities

What is and what is not EIO (European and international orientation)? This question was raised at a discussion at the network meeting last Thursday for bilingual vmbo (tvmbo) schools. Does an activity week in the UK where children do outdoor activities “count” as EIO? No-one seemed to know the answer and the general opinion seemed to be that it wasn’t really EIO. I disagreed!

On Friday I went to a conference organized by the European Platform, ‘Met talen kom je verder’ and gave another workshop about tvmbo. Luckily, the expert on EIO from the European Platform was there, so I asked him: ‘Is an outdoor activity week in the UK EIO? Can it count?’ ‘Of course it’s EIO!’ he said. Schools are obliged to have a project or projects in their curriculum where students actually work together in English in their EIO programme. By doing this, they fulfill one of the demands of the EP’s quality standard for TTO. But a 24-hour visit to Dover, or Canterbury, or a week’s outdoor activity is a good addition to a whole EIO programme.

Problem solved!!