LINGUIST List 32.1262

Fri Apr 09 2021

Confs: Applied Ling, Gen Ling, Lang Acq, Ling Theories/Online

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 09-Apr-2021
From: Jennifer Hill <>
Subject: Issues with primary school CLIL: What teachers think
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Issues with primary school CLIL: what teachers think

Date: 14-May-2021 - 14-May-2021
Location: Trento (via Zoom), Italy
Contact: Jennifer Hill
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; General Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Linguistic Theories

Subject Language(s): English

Meeting Description:

Issues with primary school CLIL: what CLIL teachers think
A session of the Sixth Symposium on CLIL in the Adige Valley “From International to Local”

Professor Carmel Mary Coonan (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy)

Discussions in Italy on how best to teach a foreign language in the primary school have been underway ever since the law in 1985 (D.P.R. n. 104) that introduced foreign languages as part of the primary school curriculum. Since then, many aspects, e.g., the integration of the foreign language into the school curriculum, methodological proposals suitable for the age range/type of school, have been the subject of much reflection ad investigation. One development - recently encouraged by the so called ‘Buona scuola’ law (Law 107, 2017) – can be found in the choice to use the foreign language as a medium of instruction (alongside the other language of instruction, Italian) in the belief that this instructional role will enable a better learning of the foreign language by the pupils.

The debate around foreign language medium instruction today is focused on the concept ‘content and language integrated learning (CLIL)’. The concept highlights an important realization, namely that it is not enough to use the (foreign) language as medium of instruction. Care must be taken to ensure that the (foreign) language is learnt as well, alongside the content that is being taught. This awareness calls for changes in the way the foreign language is broached, as well as the way the subject-matter is taught through it.

The talk will explore some of the many issues that experiences in Primary school CLIL have evidenced. Although these issues have been identified within a publicly funded (FSE) research project in primary schools in the Trentino region, it is possible that such issues characterize other areas where Primary CLIL is or will be practiced. Such issues concern the language dimension: focus on language, language alternation; presumed content simplification and consequent reduced learning outcomes (a negative connotation associated with CLIL); methodological innovation and methodological clash. Voice will be given to the teachers involved in the project via quotes from interviews conducted in the research.

Prof. Carmel Mary Coonan is full professor of Educational linguistics at the Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia. Her field of specialization is foreign/second language teaching and learning with particular reference to emerging teaching methodologies (e.g., foreign /second language medium instruction) and new target groups (e.g., infant/primary school children), theories of language education, methodology of research in language education, psychological aspects of foreign/second language learning, instructional design for plurilingual education and issues in foreign language teacher training. She has conducted and participated in several research projects both nationally and internationally (Europe), especially in the field of foreign language medium instruction (FLMI).

Page Updated: 09-Apr-2021