GIOVENTU » CLIL (Content and language integrated learning) introduced

CLIL (Content and language integrated learning) introduced

From this year Italian students are going to study one of the subjects in their curriculum in a foreign language. It’s called “Content and Language Integrated Learning” (CLIL) and it has been introduced in other European countries from the 90’s.

The CLIL will be effective in the third, fourth and fifth year of “linguistico” and in the fifth year of “licei” and “istituti tecnici”.

Subjects such as geography, maths, philosophy or history of art will be taught in English, French, or German, but it’s very likely that the priority will be given to the English language.

The aim is to make lively the daunting task of learning a second language, optimizing the hours spent to learn a not specifically language related subject to help make Italian students more competitive at a European level. 

Every educational institute can choose which subject will be taught in the foreign language according to the teachers’ abilities. Teachers must demonstrate a C1 competence in the language chosen, adequate to the specific language required by their subject. The aim is to teach 50% of the hours of the chosen subject in English, but the introduction of the new method will be gradual. Questions in the language taught might also apply to the final exam in the related subject.

The Ministry of Education University and Research (Miur) has organized training courses to help teachers to acquire the linguistic competencies and the CLIL method.

The institutes not having teachers fluent in a foreign language can use external consultants and work in cooperation with the language teacher.

Even though the reform seemed to someone a good way to speed the integration of Italy in Europe from a linguistic point of view, there are a few problems that will make the smooth introduction of the reform quite difficult.

First of all the teachers lack of foreign language knowledge and schools have not the possibility of paying for external language experts. Secondly teachers won’t be paid more which means they’ll have to reorganise all their lessons without any career advancement or financial bonus. The training provided by the Ministry might not be sufficient and many teachers will have to pay for private language lessons. Many Italian teachers are already discouraged by their very low income (1,200 Euros per month, a little more after many years as a permanent teacher). This will mean just overloading them with new responsibilities without adequate compensation.

Another significant aspect which should be taken into account is that Italian students are already performing badly in the scientific area and this will make things even worse. If they struggle to understand the subjects in their own language we can’t expect it will be easier for them in a foreign language.

Moreover, lots of students don’t really speak another language so this means that families will have to pay for private lessons, increasing the gap between families who can afford to pay private lessons and those who can’t.

Encouraging exchange programs and collaborations between European schools has also been suggested as a valid alternative to this much criticised initiative.

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