I was asked to prepare input on how language teachers can best collaborate with subject teachers. I’d prepared an agenda which explored ‘points of contact’ between the pairs of teachers including: subject content and language; thinking skills; seeing ‘shape’ in content; co-preparation and team teaching; observation and feedback.
We began with the language teachers and the subject teachers discussing separately their own perspectives on the role of the language teachers and then feeding them back in plenary. This gave a summary of ideas on what language teachers are actually doing, or what colleagues felt these teachers should be doing, in practice, to support CLIL. The exploration of ‘points of contact’ presented colleagues with starting points to explore cooperative CLIL work back in their schools.
In all three groups there was overwhelming enthusiasm for subject teachers and language teachers cooperating in CLIL. So much so that I decided with the groups’ agreement to cut my prepared agenda a little shorter in order to provide the pairs ‘hands on’ time to begin discussing their CLIL cooperation with respect to the points discussed so far. This immediate cooperation is testament to the transparent good will among colleagues in HTLs to get down to the business of CLIL together given the opportunity to do so. The most glaring conclusion to my workshops is quite simply this very fact, that given the opportunity (time together) cooperation in HTL CLIL can be a very effective and fruitful experience but is sadly not as prevalent in school as we would like it to be for a number of reasons. The lack of organized time for language and subject teachers to get together is a challenge to the success of any cooperation. School managers need to implement instruments and mechanisms in schools for cooperation in order to make the most of the enthuasism among teachers to work together in CLIL.
This article describes the workshop in question, summarises the teacher opinions on cooperation in their schools and also offers a number of suggestions for school managers to help them maximise language teacher-subject teacher cooperation in their schools.
By Keith Kelly
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Watch a recording of Keith Kelly's webinar Ingredients for successful CLIL recorded in February 2014