Category Archives: CLIL

Amy Tsui: Understanding Expertise in Language Teaching (

by Jürgen Kurtz, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Academic is a knowledge dissemination site which links the work of TESOL-based academics to teachers, teacher-trainers, teacher-trainees, decision-makers and other researchers. Edited by Huw Jarvis, it provides a global forum for people to talk about how their published research, or an aspect of it, impacts on language pedagogy. only posts talks about research which have gone through the peer review process and this ‘guarantees’ the quality of the submissions.

In the following video webcast, Amy Tsui discusses the nature of expertise in language teaching, its development, and how teachers employ it (click on image to view):

I very much agree with what Amy Tsui has to say about improvisation in structured learning environments. This essential aspect of teaching (which she refers to as “skilled improvisation” in her talk) should definitely not be underestimated (in the midst of the standards- und test-oriented teaching hype).

CLIL Conference 2010: Provisional Program

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.

General TEFL Reading List for Students in Karlsruhe

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

At present, more than 800 students study English as a Foreign Language at Karlsruhe University of Education. TEFL is a central part of their final oral and written (state) exams. Our exam candidates usually focus on one particular TEFL topic, for instance CLT, TBI, CBI, CLIL or, more specifically, on skills development in primary or secondary EFL classrooms, teaching grammar and / or vocabulary, textbook analysis and textbook use, current curricular developments and the history of English language teaching in German schools, developing intercultural communicative competence, assessment and testing, the role of the (new) media, to mention just a few.

Prior to the final exams, all students are required to hand in a reading list (consisting of about 3-5 books plus 4-6 papers published in academic journals; no introductory literature). Since our students’ choice of exam topics is often based on the TEFL classes they attended (e.g. teaching grammar in secondary schools), most of them need relatively little further support or guidance. 

However, according to current exam rules and regulations, the final oral (state) exam has to cover more aspects of TEFL than just the specific one students wish to focus on. This is why we provide all of our students (not only our exam candidates) with a general TEFL reading list. Here is the current version of the document that I would like to share with you. Please click here. This is, of course, a context- and culture-sensitive topic. Nevertheless, any comments or suggestions?

International CLIL Conference 2010

posted by 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. For more information, including the call for contributions, see the webpages of the CLIL Consortium.

23rd DGFF Conference 2009

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

The 23rd Biennial Conference 2009 of the German Society for Foreign Language Research  (DGFF) will be held September 30 to October 3 at the University of Leipzig, Germany. The conference theme is: Transcending Linguistic, Cultural and Disciplinary Borders (Grenzen überschreiten: sprachlich – fachlich – kulturell). The university is currently celebrating its 600 year anniversary (1409-2009).

Keynote presentations by Georges Lüdi, Michael Tomasello and Rebecca Oxford.

Special emphasis is placed on the following topics (in twelve sections):

– Early foreign language learning
– Foreign language teacher education
– Research methodology
– Psycholinguistic and sociocultural approaches to language learning
– Transcending linguistic boundaries: focus on Mehrsprachigkeitsdidaktik
– Bilingual education / CLIL
– European and global language politics
– Digital media in foreign / second language education
– Transcending boarders in teaching literature
– Developing intercultural competence
– Task-based instruction
– Monitoring, assessment, evaluation

The twelve (additional) workshops offered cover a wide range of related topics such as the multilingual classroom, migration, drama pedagogy, classroom-based research, etc.

Nationally and internationally, the DGFF conference has a reputation as a comprehensive and stimulating event including a broad spectrum of workshops and poster sessions, thought-provoking presentations, book displays by various publishers, and plentiful opportunities for networking.

For more specific information, click on the above link.

On authorSTREAM: English Language Teaching in the late 19th and in the 20th Century (Sue Swift)

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

In order to understand recent developments in teaching English as a foreign or second language, including task-based instruction (TBI), content-based instruction (CBI) as well as content and language integrated learning (CLIL), it is important to know about the history of foreign language education.

The following three audio-supported presentations take you on a journey through the past, beginning just before the (European) Modern Language Reform Movement in the late nineteenth century. The history of foreign language education goes back much further than that, of course, (see, for instance, Hüllen 2005), and it needs to be looked at from a more global perspective that is not reduced to developments in Britain and in the United States. Nevertheless, these presentations are well-worth a view, especially for ‘TEFL-novices’ (as a ‘springboard’ into the literature):

Language teaching before 1940

Language teaching 1940-1980

Language teaching from the 1970s onwards

Hüllen, Werner (2005). Kleine Geschichte des Fremdsprachenlernens. Berlin: Schmidt.

On YouTube: CLIL for the Knowledge Society

posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) (Bilingualer Sachfachunterricht) in Europe. Here are a few introductory videos I found on YouTube (David Marsh et al. / Eurydice):