Clil debate articles We have invited leading experts in Clil and English-medium education to assess this growing

phenomenon in global education. Wednesday 9 February 2005 Is this the end of the language class? Taking foreign language learning out of the language classroom and integrating it with other subjects has a strong appeal, but Kari Smith urges caution: language acquisition is not always natural "Thank you for the course. I wish it had been given in my own language because I know I have lost out on much information during the course, and you, the teacher, did not have the opportunity to get to know the real me, what I am able to do, what I know, what I think and who I am." This is the message a previous student of mine wrote after having spent five days a week for eight months studying to be a teacher in an additional language (a language other than the native language). Daniela is not the only student enrolled in one of the many immersion or Content and Language Integrated Learning (Clil) programmes in schools and universities around the world who feels this way. Purely for language learning purposes some language teachers, parents and policy makers believe that foreign language learning can be enhanced by teaching in the target language. The extent of the immersion of learners into a target foreign language varies, from teaching a subject or more in English (for the sake of convenience) to making the school or university an English medium institution, where all subjects are taught in a language foreign to the students. I have seen cautious attempts such as teaching physical education in English and more courageous programmes introducing the foreign language of mathematics to students in the foreign language of English. Some attempts are even bolder: schools and universities teaching only in English to students whose previous school education took place in their native tongue and by teachers whose English does not allow them to respond to questions beyond the lesson plan they have carefully prepared the day before. So why are we witnessing this quest to use a foreign language as the medium of instruction - trying to make the unnatural natural? We need to look at two basic concepts related to becoming skilled users of an additional language. There is language acquisition and language learning. Language acquisition happens when the learner is surrounded by the target language, and learning takes place in a natural way. This is exactly what happens when children acquire their native tongue: little or no formal language learning takes place before school age, and even in school we find little formal learning of new vocabulary or linguistic structures. Language acquisition occurs without any special effort being put into language learning programmes. Natural teachers are parents, extended family, friends, media, etc. Immigrants learning the language of their new country often acquire the language to a certain extent in the same way. They are surrounded by the target language outside their own family; they enjoy rich exposure to it. However, the fact that not all arrive in the new country as young children, and that the native tongue remains the language spoken in the family, add complexity to the pro-cess of acquisition. Therefore, new immigrants are encouraged to take specific language courses; they need to be introduced to formal language instruction alongside the many opportunities for natural exposure. When language has to be learned with a conscious cognitive effort we talk about language learning, which is, in a way, an unnatural way to learn a language. Language exposure is restricted to specific hours on specific days; learning is conscious and usually requires serious cognitive effort, mainly focused on learning about the target language. When the learner leaves the class, there is little or no exposure to the target language. When English is learned in Turkey, Israel or even in Norway, this is usually what happens. Clil programmes, whether they are extensive or limited, aim at causing language acquisition to take place (the natural way) in a foreign setting (which would usually require language learning) by teaching in the target language, thus creating a target language environment within the environment of another language. This is, as I see it, an attempt to transform an unnatural way of learning a language into the natural way of acquiring languages. The research literature presents evidence in favour and against Clil, but what do students think? They are, after all, the ones who need to experience the gains and the losses. The main advantage of Clil seems to be the fact that the target language is acquired in a rather effortless way. Young people of today fully realise the importance of English as the language of a global world. The mastery of English strengthens their confidence that they are citizens of the international community, and this means not knowing English just to get by, but to achieve mastery of their profession in English. Another noticeable gain is the fact that language acquisition effects identification with the target language culture to a

greater extent than when the language is formally studied in school. They express worries regarding the fact that there is no native language improvement with enriched vocabulary and professional language. Catalytic factors. thus enhancing international understanding and tolerance. which comprises about 92% of the total population. a school system is rapidly being developed in which English as well as standard Chinese are used as the languages of instruction. Furthermore. and ideally assimilate into. a long association with minority groups and bilingual education for these groups has undergone its course of trials. Israel Forced to learn a language of failure As China's planners roll out a bilingual education policy across their vast country. so let it be) to such a degree that they can teach freely. for the sake of making the unnatural natural. Finally. bilingualism has remained a remote notion and it has hardly. I suppose that most of us are reluctant to accept that being a native speaker of English makes one a better maths teacher. says Anwei Feng In its long history of minority education. To the Han majority. and for developing a workforce that combines specialised knowledge with foreign language skills. The latter is also due to the fact that when learning a new language in this way. disasters and hopes reflecting the political realities of the country. surprising finding is that a large number of students in extended Clil programmes notice language attrition in the native tongue. and even serve as language teachers. perhaps. The content is tough enough to understand in itself. history or whatever subject chosen master the target language (if English. Bilingualism is now widely seen by the Han majority as a useful tool for improving foreign language skills. This has a harmful effect on their confidence as learners. When assessing student assignments. therefore. However. particularly English. this is not always the case. they are not able to fully express personal thoughts and understandings. and the foreign language medium makes it much worse. mainstream society. bilingual education has become part of the everyday vocabulary not only of educationists but also ordinary people. Across the country. but also in terms of assessment. they said that they forget words and expressions in their own language. if ever. membership of the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and the successful bid for the 2008 . the main purpose is to teach the specific subject? What does the learner know which is not presented in the assessment task because of insufficient language mastery? What is the extent of bias reflected in the mark because of "childish" or poor language? These are serious problems that need to be openly discussed in any Clil programme. We should also consider teachers on Clil courses. people tend to look at their own language and culture with more objective eyes. The stated outcome of this policy is for minority groups to be able to communicate with. give extended explanations. particularly in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing and the special economic zones. and not the language. appeared in their education literature. The solution could be. This leads to focusing on only what is essential to pass the course without additional readings and independent studies. the damage it is doing in remote minority-language-speaking communities is being overlooked. history teacher or even English teacher than a native speaker of the learner's native tongue. the solution to mastering a new language with the help of Clil is not so simple and experiences of many students are similar to Daniela's. But over the past few years this has changed drastically. in my own research I have found that good students avoid participating in class discussions for fear of sounding "stupid". eg mathematics or psychology. to accept only native speakers of English (if that is the target language) as teachers in any Clil contexts. to teach in Clil in programmes? According to the students. There is rich evidence that when the content of the course is the main objective. do teachers of mathematics. They experience a constant tension between content and language not only in terms of what and how to teach. they realise that there are different ways of understanding the world and of tackling life than the limited experience found in one language within one culture. and it all becomes very artificial when an Italian teacher teaches Italian children world history in English. It is as if studying the content takes place in misty rather than in clear weather. From kindergartens to tertiary institutions. such as China's firm belief in its "open-door" policy. Many students experience a constant feeling of inferiority that they can do better than their grades show. the understanding of the course content is severely hampered due to language problems. The concept of bilingualism has. China has engaged its 50 or so minority groups in bilingual education with an officially proclaimed aim to produce bilinguals with a strong competence in Putonghua (standard Chinese) and their home languages. An additional. Perhaps I am wrong? Dr Kari Smith is a teacher trainer at Oranim Academic College of Education. respond to unexpected questions. should they focus on language or on content? Are they to disregard language mistakes when after all.

some educators have come up with the notion of trilingualism for minority groups. These textbooks carry explanations or translations in standard Chinese. This increases considerably the difficulty of learning the foreign language because the "intermediary language" they rely on is in fact a language of which they are not native speakers. The first is the transition children go through from early schooling in their mother tongue to learning subjects in standard Chinese later in their school careers. Elsewhere in China. Many of them have to re-sit these exams repeatedly for certification. inferior and thus dispensable. with some children dropping out of school. which looks certain to reshape China's education system as a whole. And where minority students do get access to foreign language teaching they have an additional hurdle to face. Many of them have to mentally retranslate it into their mother tongue in the learning process. Dr Anwei Feng is a lecturer at the School of Education. However. the challenges being faced by minority students need to be debated from different perspectives with a view to the unique contexts of minority groups in the country. Some take great pains to hide their ethnic identities by not wearing their ethnic clothes and by changing their accents. rarely or never have a chance to study a foreign language in primary or even secondary schools. In most cases. often by lowering the pass level in the nationwide entrance examinations. confidence and overall performance. A second issue is that a large percentage of minority pupils. the unfavourable economic conditions that keep minority children out of classrooms to help parents in busy seasons. and inappropriate management and policies in minority education. To these educators. these students are placed in an exam system that includes compulsory English language testing and they perform less well than their majority counterparts. However.) Once in university. many of whom live in remote areas. England. He is currently editing a special issue on bilingualism in China for an international journal on bilingual education .Olympic Games. An open discussions of these issues will help shed light on the theory of trilingualism and the assimilation mentality. If these aims for minority education are to be achieved in trilingual education in China. Recent reports from minority areas reveal several hidden issues that need addressing.This is defined as the development of talents in mastering three languages (sanyu jiantong). It will also allow stakeholders to develop minority education programmes that empower minority children. learning a foreign language starts at primary school and sometimes even earlier. (Regional or provincial governments seek to ensure that quotas of minority students are enrolled into tertiary institutions. have played a key role in promoting English and Chinese bilingualism. the EFL textbooks they use are standardised nationwide. usually because of lack of resources. self-confidence and empowerment that help to develop in all students a secure sense of identity and self-esteem so as to enable them to participate competently in the education process. University of Durham. This portrays minority languages and cultures as primitive. They therefore rely on the government's "favour policies" for university places. it is important to examine the specific context and the implications for linguistic minority children and to create necessary conditions for its implementation. Africa and Asia. Trilingualism is by no means an unusual phenomenon and proves a useful concept in some countries in Europe. That process of examination and debate does not appear to be taking place in the literature on minority education in China. At the heart of minority education are the notions of equity. As many minority children find it difficult to follow the school curriculum it becomes harder for them to gain the grades necessary to get into tertiary education. the absence of discussions about the impact of the majority concept of bilingualism (expressed in the "two plus one equals three" formula) on minority groups may well be a product of the prevailing assimilation mentality. Loss of sense of worth and identity as observed by many educators is contrary to the aim of bilingual education. as long as there is the need. for any trilingual programme to be effective. This in turn affects their self-esteem. The outcome of minority education should be academically and personally empowered individuals who acquire control over their own lives and immediate environment and who can transform from a superior-inferior mentality to collaborative relationships where their identities are affirmed. This transition is often reported as being unsmooth. the struggle of those pupils with two new languages. learning a third language (in this case a foreign language that is not in widespread use in minority regions) should be as simple as the sum: two (minority home language and standard Chinese) plus one (a foreign language) equals three (sanyu jiantong). It is often reported that some minority students consider themselves inferior to others (ziren buru) and undervalue their own cultures and languages. and thus two new cultures (the Han majority culture and a distant foreign culture). These difficulties are compounded by other factors: a shortage of qualified standard Chinese and EFL teachers. In what looks like a natural response to the English and Chinese bilingual movement.

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