CONTENT AND LANGUAGE INTEGRATED LEARNING 2.0: A RESEARCH IN THE FIELD
Catholic University of Milan (ITALY)
Content and Language Integrate Learning (CLIL) is experiencing a moment of great attention at European level because of its potential to improve the quality of language as well as content. The same interest is devoted to the opportunity that technology can offer to education in formal settings, e.g., school, university, professional development. The aim of this paper is to report about a research in the field which involved primary and secondary schools in Lombardy (Italy). In particular the focus of the investigation was the relationship between CLIL and technology. The CLIL methodology has proved its efficacy in involving students in active learning, albeit its practical use in curricular activities has still some difficulties to overcome. The main issue is the level of qualification that a school teacher is requested to deal with the new approach in her/his curricular classes. As a result most European states are reinforcing teacher training. In particular teachers have to find the right balance between language and content so that the CLIL can prove its efficacy improving not only language learning, but also the quality of content learning. The research also focused on the role of technology and the enhancement that CLIL could experience with the support of it. The basis for this statement can be found in a new reference paradigm which considers new technology not only an instrument, but an active scenario where we interact (Rivoltella, 2010).
The study was based on a multi focus perspective where theory, research and practise work together in a dynamic process (van Lier, 1996). The reference paradigm was the interpretative one which wanted to highlight learning strategies, management and control of the classroom as well as new approaches to professional development. According to the naturalistic nature of the investigation the instruments used where mainly qualitative; e.g., classroom observation, video recording of lessons, teacher’s diary, interview with teachers and semi-structured questionnaire. The research was divided in the following stages:
- selection of samples
- creation of Web tools
- creation of specific CLIL materials
- implementation of the intervention
- evaluation of the findings
The first stage requested to search for representative cases where to develop a targeted intervention was possible. The sample was made up of one classroom of primary school and one of lower secondary school. The second stage was dedicated to the creation of an educational portal www.wordofmouth.it which should satisfy the need for a space easy to access, attractive ad dynamic. In it different Web tools were embedded; i.e., Wiki, Blog, Forum, Video-conference, Calendar, Video and Photo-sharing. The use of advanced technology was sustained by the support of the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). The teachers were actively involved in the creation of CLIL materials. Both teachers chose science as content subject. The investigation was conducted during the school year 2008/2009 and was completed in 2010 with interviews.
The investigation proved the positive effect of digital learning in enhancing CLIL. Students and teachers were satisfied with the experience and hoped to continue with it. In particular teachers asserted that they had experienced a positive moment in their career.