My CLIL glossary entry:
Topic: Each and every content faced by students which develops their knowledge and their language
CLIL strengths and weaknesses
In my working experience I had the opportunity to teach in a primary school where it was implemented the IBI/BEI project. I was teaching Science, Art and Geography in English in two different classes. The year after I had Music as well.
It was a great opportunity to understand the advantages of such approach, mostly on the level of preparation of the pupils which was considerably higher then ordinary especially in terms of confidence in speaking and understanding both the oral and the written language. The implications on the school organization were unfortunately quite relevant as well, because part of the teachers were unfortunately against this project and that made difficult at times organizing and attending weekly meetings for BEI teachers for instance, or offering the right amount of time in the timetable to the subject to be taught in English.
My colleagues involved in the program had a very good preparation because they started the project and they followed all the steps required to be in the project. Personally I had only a 12 hours course at the beginning of my first year (which was already the last one of the experimentation) and an observation in class from a tutor which I found precious!
I had a fourth and a fifth grade which had already a very good level of English. Most of the material I used was from American and British websites for teachers and so there was plenty! I had of course to work quite a lot on the material to implement the activities in order to make it approachable to my 9 and 10 years old pupils, but as already mentioned, their level of English was amazing so I had almost no problem: they were very happy to study and learn in English as well, I think because of the approach, which was student centered.
I had to help particularly pupils with special needs and those who joined the class lately, mostly after the second grade because they lost the basics.
The path suggested for the first two years of literacy indeed was PHONETICS. This way the kids really start approaching the language in a way which will enable them to read and understand the language in a way which is closer to their native language.
Due to a family problem I had to move in a different province and to change school, but I carry this experience with me and I see that it completely changed my view on teaching not only English, but all the subjects.
I am currently teaching English in two different schools, since I am competent in music I offered to teach Music in English in three classes and I am doing some units in Science in order to spread among my colleagues the awareness about CLIL potential.
In conclusion the strengths of the CLIL approach are the level of language acquisition, which is considerably higher than usual, the enthusiasm in learning and the concentration capacity shown by the pupils.
The weaknesses are, in my experience, the impact on the school organization which is not always positive, the teacher training which needs to be consistent and the lack of already prepared resources for weak students.
Webtools & Co
My song for teaching Primary colours