Thursday, 3 March 2011

Towards a spontaneous and natural use of English in non-EFL subjects

Is it realistic to think about putting into practice CLIL methodologies in contexts where most students face English just 3 hours a week  in crowded classrooms?  English teachers can easily turn into performers, entertainers  and even clowns when it comes to motivate these students to perform naturally in English. This is really great fun, but do we really achieve by these means the goal of increasing our students’ communicative competence in English?

If English has no wider presence in our students’ environment, EFL teachers work tends to be a romantic , exhausting and unsuccessful effort. CLIL is a great solution to increase our students exposure on the Foreign language, but many subject teachers with English knowledge step back frightened when they are proposed to follow CLIL strategies in their class. 

I believe, English should have a more natural presence in other subjects. Geography or  Natural Science teachers, for instance, could start by handing out short texts in English or by projecting subtitled videos on the topics the students are working on. The presence of English in a non-linguistic subject should not necessarily be following any CLIL strategy. Any English material in a non-linguistic subject wouldn’t need any other justification but its relevance. By this way, subject teachers would gain confidence and learners would increasingly get familiar to the presence of English in their environment.