INTEGRATING LANGUAGE LEARNING IN CONTENT LESSON WITH THE SUPPORT OF TECHNOLOGY: A RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY
Nowadays it is essential to think education differently. In particular the effect of globalisation and of the unification of European countries asked the European members to rethink the way education is conceived. Digital competence as well as foreign language fluency can be considered mandatory for the new generations. As a consequence the whole education has to be reconsidered from the ground up. A particular attention should be dedicated to the training of the next generation of teachers. Specifically for the language field the growing interest in Content and Language Integrate Learning (CLIL) in European countries has led to pay higher consideration to the language training. As a consequence university courses in education should include CLIL training on a regular bases and as an important part of their curriculum as well as they have to involve more technology in teacher training.
Taking into account the above issue and working in pair with a school research in the field a research in Catholic University (Milan) was developed during the academic years 2008-2010. It involved the course of General Teaching of the School of Education. The positive result led to the decision to turn the experimental project into part of the curricular activities. This paper reports about the development of the project from an investigation to its regular inclusion in the curriculum of the course.
The idea of stimulating the future teachers developed from the observation of the English curriculum of teacher students in Italy. They have to attend three English courses during their university career and when they take their Bachelor Degree they also obtain a certificate to teach English in primary school. They usually know the theoretical foundations of CLIL, but they have not experienced it enough on their own. The result is uncertainty and fear of failure that lead the new teachers not to use it with their students. To overcome that problem it was decided to introduce a module of the General Teaching course using the CLIL approach and sustained by the use of technology.
The research was divided in five stages: selection of the sample, creation of the Web tools, creation of specific CLIL materials, implementation of the intervention, evaluation of the intervention. During the research period different attempts were done to evaluate the most effective strategies according to the age of students and their general lack of desire to face further difficulties in the study of the specific subject. The investigation demonstrated the efficacy of the project. Its inclusion in the regular course during the next academic years was sustained by the increasing interest of students who declared to be highly motivated in learning content in English. The initial mistrust towards something new was changed into a positive attitude which was able to help students to develop a specific interest in the project and to work hard although they faced some difficulties because of their prior unfamiliarity with the foreign language. In fact they were not used to conceive it as a communication tool, but an end in itself.