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This paper draws together a number of best practices identified over the course of the national ReCLes.pt CLIL project. Developed by Portuguese Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) associated in the Network Association of Language Centers in Higher Education in Portugal (ReCLes.pt, http://recles.pt), the project promoted pilot teacher training courses in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Ultimately, 33 CLIL course modules were implemented in six participating HEIs, impacting over 600 students. Over the course of three years to reach this initial long-term goal, the ReCLes.pt CLIL researchers collaborated to review the literature and work through the resulting debates. The resulting overarching course of action is reflected in the teaching manual, written collaboratively and published with the related data-gathering tools for the study partially funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. The best practices focused on in this article include promoting the perspective of FL learners as FL users, the practical implementation of communities of practice and learning, and the development of CLIL modules to include scaffolding and ICT.
This article describes the didactic principles underlying the creation of a ready-made fifteen lesson plan package for primary CLIL (for Maths, Geography and Science) for pupils aged 5 to 12, developed through the collaboration of an international group of English and primary teachers, teacher educators, researchers and teaching materials developers across four European countries in the framework of the CLIL for Children (C4C) project (2015-2018) on educating teachers for CLIL teaching environments. These principles are presented in the framework of a brief state-of-the art discussion on the lack of ready-made teaching materials for CLIL, their importance for teacher development and quality teaching and learning in CLIL classrooms, and criteria they should conform to. The article proceeds by summarising the findings of two C4C surveys, one on best CLIL teaching practice through national reports of four European countries (Italy, Portugal, Poland and Romania) and the other on Open Educational Resources (OER) available for CLIL Maths, Science and Geography, as well as by drawing on C4C Guidelines. The article then demonstrates these principles in practice through a module of a three lesson plan sequence for CLIL Science on the topic “The World of Plants” by showing how language (vocabulary or content-specific terminology and language functions), specific communication skills, content and culture are integrated and developed through a child-centred, holistic (Brooks and Brooks), constructivist approach. Digital technologies are included as everyday learning processes for access to knowledge and playfulness in learning. Methodologies for active, experiential, discovery, problem solving and cooperative learning are foregrounded. The article further highlights how teacher cooperation and teacher identities (English and primary education teachers) as individuals with multilingual repertoires, expectations, and expertise are crucial for producing quality CLIL materials and resources.
Research-oriented programs related to pre-service teacher education are practically non-existent in many countries. Since in Portugal we now have a stable legal system for initial teacher training, how can we help these countries to respond to their teacher training needs and accomplish these same standards? How can we create an international program at MA level that could serve such an objective? What are the research priorities for teachers in primary and secondary education? I will claim for a new general research policy using small-scale research projects in foreign language teaching (FLT), which illustrated a turning point in advanced research in foreign languages teacher training. Presently, researchers no longer narrow their inquiries into linguistic questions or school and student-centered actions. Instead, they focus on a range of issues such as teacher-centered actions, beliefs and policies, and aspects of FLT such as literacy education, special educational needs or methods for teaching gifted students. Despite a lack of funding at all levels, many research projects in teacher education have been undertaken, and new areas have been explored, such as didactic transposition, literary and information literacies, intercultural learning, corpora in FLT, new information and communication technologies in FLT, interlingual inferencing, national standards for foreign language education, FLT for specific purposes, digital narratives in education, CLIL, assessment, and language learning behaviors. This small sample of the many areas covered proves that advanced research in teacher education can also be very useful to promote the growing interest in further internationalization in other sciences (beyond human and social areas) traditionally linked to politics, business and industry (computing, chemistry, biology, medicine, etc.), something that can only be attained by focusing on multilingualism, multi-literacy and lifelong learning.
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