Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany
The International CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) Conference 2010 “In Pursuit of Excellence: Uncovering CLIL Quality by CLIL Practitioners – Evidencing CLIL Quality by CLIL Researchers” will be held September 30 to October 2 at the University of Eichstätt in Germany. The new draft program is available now.
As the organizers point out on the conference website, “CLIL 2010 intends to provide participants with insights into well-grounded CLIL practice, and show how research acts as a driver for enhancing quality teaching and teacher development. Pioneering teachers, materials designers, managers and researchers will come together to explore the core of good CLIL practice in a highly interactive environment. Contributors and other participants will be invited to engage in the interactive ‘fusion’ and ‘forum’ sessions, participate in broadcast and film contexts, and contribute to publishing on practice and research evidence.”
I personally think that this is a very important conference, especially because of its potential to open gateways to further research, to inspire innovative theories and to contribute to more fruitful practices. For more detailed information, see the webpages of the CLIL Consortium.
More generally, I think that developing CLIL in schools is one (!) promising step toward meeting the ultimate goal of language education in Europe (and, perhaps, elsewhere) as laid out in the Preamble to the European Action Plan for Languages 2004-2006 (“Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity“):
“At long last, Europe is on its way to becoming one big family, without bloodshed, a real transformation … a continent of humane values … of liberty, solidarity and above all diversity, meaning respect for others’ languages, cultures and traditions. (Laeken Declaration).”
Thus, I largely agree with the following statements (see pages 7-8 of the Action Plan):
“Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), in which pupils learn a subject through the medium of a foreign language, has a major contribution to make to the Union’s language learning goals. It can provide effective opportunities for pupils to use their new language skills now, rather than learn them now for use later. It opens doors on languages for a broader range of learners, nurturing self-confidence in young learners and those who have not responded well to formal language instruction in general education. It provides exposure to the language without requiring extra time in the curriculum, which can be of particular interest in vocational settings. The introduction of CLIL approaches into an institution can be facilitated by the presence of trained teachers who are native speakers of the vehicular language.”
However, as already indicated, this (vision) leaves us with a number of questions, for instance, concerning the issue of deferred gratification in traditional primary and secondary foreign language classrooms (learning new language skills now for using them later on?; how does this relate to current international CLT and TBI research (real-world tasks, etc.), how convincing is this argument today?), etc.