A Reportage on the CLIL@India Project

Tanya Brooks, a PhD scholar from Tezpur University, visited the CLIL Resource and Training Centre at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), during July 16-19, 2018 as part of her field work for her research. She shares experience and her observations on the CLIL@India Project as well as insights gained through her interviews with the CLIL@India Project team in the report below…

The CLIL@India Center Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union located at Manipal , Karnataka was at the top of my list of visits pertaining to my research as the center  directly deals with my focus area “CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning”.

The CLIL@India Project aims to develop a new model of bilingual education by adapting the CLIL approach to the Indian context, and pilot CLIL modules in primary schools- both public and private.

About The Project

CLIL@INDIA is a three- year project to introduce CLIL methodology and pedagogy in India. The project will also disseminate knowledge to relevant stakeholders such as the academia, education non-profit organizations, and policy makers. The Project began in the year 2016 and is headed by Dr. Deepesh Chandrasekharan as the Executive Director.  At present, four schools have been selected in Karnataka to carry out pilot studies. Two of the schools are vernacular medium and other two are English medium. The process of entering into the school and introducing the CLIL approach is known as “Intervention” which will begin in the 1st week of August for all of the 4 schools. The class selected is Standard 3 and the subject chosen is Environmental Studies.  The intervention will include two lessons that will be taught in English in the vernacular medium schools and in Kannada in the English medium schools. The team at CLIL@India has on board an ex-state level teacher as their consultant, who is providing the much needed support for the lesson plans. Activities shall play a major role in the classroom teaching and the research associates have done their best in preparing charts, displays, and other fun activities for all the four schools. The results from such intervention will aim at piloting a new method of education that shall address multilingualism in a much better light and highlight CLIL as a potential alternative approach to the present system of education in India.

Discussions

The discussions held with the Director, Executive Director and the Research Associates was enriching and quite thought provoking as it made me think outside the box. The discussions did focus on the lack of CLIL approach in India and in the higher levels of Education in most of Southeast Asia. The possible reasons for this could be lack of research in the area, lack of initiative and definitely neglect towards the approaches adopted towards education in a big way. CLIL is “a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language” (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010, p.1; Marsh, 2012).  By the definition given and on the number of researches carried out on the CLIL approach, it seems to be a good alternative to the present Content-Based Instruction and “merges learning theories, language learning theories, and intercultural understanding” (Coyle, 2011).

Insights

I had been keen on working with CLIL approach for my research and have quite zeroed on the sector of higher education. The confusion though lies about my target audience, as the spectrum of higher education is quite huge and spread out. Looking at Graduates and Post Graduates was an option that I had shared but the insights from the team of CLIL@India did make me look at the limitations that may come along with the choice. A very helpful insight provided that had cleared much of my confusion was looking into Skill Development that is wide spread in the Northeast with the ASEAN Treaty and the Look East Policy. The Skill Development Sector shall provide a good field for my research as the disparity between content and language is wide spread in such sectors of vocational training.  At present, I am working on how to collaborate the CLIL approach with the functioning of skill development and preparing the details for my pilot survey.

Technique shared

While discussing the intervention, I was even introduced to the method used. The method was divided into three sections each with a significant aim. The first of the three was the pre-survey in which assessments were carried out in order to identify the level of the learner. The pre-survey assessment for children included Letter Identification, Letter Reproduction, Word Production, Word Comprehension, Sentence Reproduction, Sentence Production, and Sentence Comprehension. This assessment gave a clear picture about the learner’s level in the given language of intervention. In designing the assessment, materials by ASER 2007 were used as guide points or pointers. The next section is of the Intervention phase, wherein classes in the particular language would be carried out on the selected content. These classes need a lot of preparation, as activities play an important role and teacher needs to be in control of both the content and the language. The final section is post-survey in which the CLIL approach will be put to test through a language assessment testing the four language skills- Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing along with the testing of content. The learners need to fare well in both the language section and content section for the approach to be accepted as successful. This method of intervention shall be the method that I will put into use for my field work with the needed alterations. As this method at present is been put into practice by the team of CLIL@INDIA it gives me confidence and surety of feedback.

The Library

The library at the center had a number of books on CLIL and research that are not easily available and hence shall be helpful towards my research. The list of some of books collected is:

  1. CLIL Activities by Liz Dale and Rosie Tanner – This book provides a background to CLIL by highlighting the benefits, role of teachers, collaboration in CLIL, and by providing a wide range of CLIL activities that can be done in various papers or subjects, such as, Economics and business studies, Maths, Information and Communication Technology and al.
  2. The Roles of Language in CLIL by Ana Llinares, Tom Morton and Rachel Whittaker – This Cambridge production deals in the important aspects of language that are important in CLIL as an approach. Interaction patterns and scaffolding in the CLIL classroom, Grammar and lexis in CLIL subjects, Students’ academic and interpersonal language in CLIL are few areas the book dwells in.
  3. Focus on CLIL by Katarzyna Papaja – This book does begin with the theoretical base of CLIL and in the second half discusses the Qualitative Study on CLIL. Right from Research objectives in the current study on Polish Secondary Education to Research Questions, the book even discusses the Results of the research along with future research implications.
  4. Language Use and Language Learning in CLIL Classrooms, Edited by Christiane Dalton-Puffer, Tarja Nikula, Ute Smit – This book begins by Charting policies, premises and research on content and language integrated learning. It then moves towards general and theoretical issues centering CLIL. This is followed by an elaborate discussion on CLIL at the Secondary level focusing on cross-sectional analysis, genre-based approach, and effects of CLIL. The final part deals with CLIL at the tertiary level highlighting the Metadiscursive devices in university lectures: A contrastive analysis of L1 and L2 teacher performance, Language Matters: Assessing lecture comprehension in Norwegian English-medium higher education, and CLIL in an English as a lingua franca (ELF) classroom: On explaining terms and expressions interactively.
  5. Resource Books for Teachers by Sheelagh Deller and Christine Price – This book is an amalgamation of activities based on various skills; demo subjects and has individual aims associated. The skills touched upon are: Giving new information, Teaching and activating key vocabulary, Speaking, and Writing.

The Experience

The visit to the CLIL@INDIA center has definitely helped me start my research with the much needed impetus and vision. The discussions and insights has helped me look at my research in a much better light and has given me quite a clear understanding of what I need to be looking at and working towards. As working on a given approach or a line of study does bring its share of confusion and delusions, the clarity received from the work carried out by CLIL@INDIA helps to stay focused on what I aim at doing. If time permits I sure will love to visit the center again to share my feedback after the field work, as that would lead to further insights and discussions that would just not pertain to the outer crux of what the results show but also shall dwell into what more can be done to make CLIL a valued approach.

 

Submitted by:

Tanya Marina Brooks
PhD Research Scholar
Dept. of EFL
Tezpur University

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