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For those of us who are EAL teachers in school, selecting our language learning outcomes is only one consideration in our planning. Our students attend our lessons primarily to be able to access the language they are facing in their mainstream classes. This means that we need to be very clear about our context, and about what vocabulary and language structures are relevant to that context.

Take, for example, a Maths lesson in which the students are studying geometry and doing problems related to shape. The vocabulary required includes words such as bisect, centimetre and circumference and the names of shapes such as equilateral triangle. These words are all part of the academic language needed to succeed, but they don’t usually appear in a language classroom at low levels. If we use a contextual approach, we can integrate the content learning with the language learning. This is called CLIL (content and language integrated learning). We can create two different learning outcomes for the lesson, as seen in the resource accompanying this article.

Example of a CLIL lesson

First, I would teach how a prefix gives meaning to a word. For example: cent means 100; we have 100 cents in a Dollar or Euro and a century is 100 years. Likewise, bi = two, and we have two wheels on a bicycle; tri means three, and so on. Once they understand these prefixes, I refer to the Maths vocabulary and ask the students to apply the principle to a specific context to show that they understand what words like centimetre, bisect and circumference might mean. This involves decoding and problem-solving.

The second example you can find in the resource is from a Social Science lesson and integrates the topic of water conservation with listening and writing skills. The final activity consolidates both the curriculum and language learning and can be differentiated to suit individual learners. The key to successful CLIL teaching is ensuring that as teachers, we know exactly what we want to teach in terms of both the subject content and the language structure. Programmes such as the Learning Village enable us to do this more effectively.

Further learning - Blog

Created: Wed 6th Jan 2016

Language learning strategies are tools to facilitate language learning that should be adapted to suit the needs of each individual.

There aren't a set of language learning strategies that makes you a perfect language learner, each student learns differently. However, there are some guidelines on the strategies others have found successful that can be provided to students to help them make more effective use of their time studying.  It's important that students understand how they learn and what strategies are more effective than others.

Created: Mon 24th Feb 2014

How can the new-to-English language learners and their teachers work together to provide a successful language learning experience when curriculum content is the priority? Rubin & Thompson (1982) researched and found 14 characteristics of a good language learner.

If each characteristic of a good language learner can be developed for young learners into a ‘child friendly’  question, translated into their mother tongue (maybe orally) and unpicked, question by question, each characteristic can act as a guide for learners to try out new strategies.

Created: Wed 25th Oct 2023

你好 Привіт  Merhaba Здравей  Buna ziua ہیلو Cześć

How often do you hear these in the school playground? And actually, not just in the playground… Do you know which language they are from? Have a guess!

(Here is the answer: Mandarin, Ukrainian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Urdu, Polish)

When you walk around your school, I bet you can hear words and phrases in different languages whispered or spoken out loud in the corridors, the lunch hall, and lessons too (if you listen really carefully!).