CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning CLIL CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning
Literature on Literacy, Language and Learning
This page is dedicated to articles on literacy in the curriculum, content literacy, literacy for learning in school. Much of the literature is from mother tongue contexts, but there is much for CLIL and bilingual education to take from the lessons learned in these contexts.
I started by listing things I'd read myself, but as before the invitation goes out to any of you who would like to contribute with links and comments about pieces you read and think should be shared. Send them in and I'll publish them here.
7 The complementary
contributions of Halliday and Vygotsky to a 'Language-based Theory
Wells, G (1994)
Linguistics and Education, 6(1), 41-90
There is a link to this via the
Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
It took me a while to read this article. I had to keep going back over sections to understand and I think that nowadays I'm just more drawn to writing which is directly about classroom practice, rather than theories, and this is about three theories, Halliday's 'Language-based theory of learning' (referred to as LTL), Vygotsky's 'activity-based theory of learning' and the third is the author's combination of the two to suggest a way forward to education which is
'A comprehensive language-based theory of learning should not only explain how language is learned and how cultural knowledge is learned through language. It should also show how this knowledge arises out of collaborative practical and intellectual activities and, in turn, mediates the actions and operations by means of which these activities are carried out.'
It is a powerful conclusion to the article, but there is a footnote which does sap my enthusiasm a little, and that is end note 7 which refers to Wertsch (1985) which states in short that we're still awaiting 'thorough investigation' of the relationship between grammar and the higher mental functions. So, in the space of ten years, 1985 to 1994, we have to assume that still no investigation had taken place. I wonder if it's now been done. Let me know if you find it. My feeling is that CLIL is in practice what Wells conclusion states is needed. The difference, of course, is that CLIL is about another language medium, not the mother tongue.
It was in fact the last section which interested me most in the article. Wells writes about the integration of Halliday and Vygotsky in the context of school learning.
(page 82) '... it is written texts - and talk about them - that provide the discursive means for the development of the 'higher mental functions' so we can plan a language programme for learning a subject based on an analysis of the formal written language of this subject (my words added).
(page 82) 'The reorganization of the grammar and the concomitant reconstrual of experience that is required in order to use written text as a tool for thinking and communicating does occur spontaneously for most children' so we have to teach it to them (my words added).
(page 82) 'children need to perceive (the language) as functional for them in relation to activities that they find both challenging and personally meaningful' so we have to make tasks challenging and meaningful and serving a clear purpose (my words added).
PS - (page 83) Wells refers to Halliday's distinction between 'meaning', 'doing', and 'saying'. It occurs to me that in CLIL, all of these factors have another language dimension, the foreign language dimension. See my article on onestopclil which takes Phil Ball's triad of procedural, conceptual and linguistic skills to create a 'cube' metaphor as an instrument for asking questions about learners to help plan learning.
|6 Developing critical understanding of the specialised language of
school science and history texts: A functional grammatical
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 42: 7 April 1999, pp 508-521
I couldn't find a free version of this, but there is a link in ERIC. and there are two related articles which are freely available from Unsworth on similar topics.
Teaching multiliteracies across the curriculum:
The article takes two distinct curriculum areas, Science and History, and analyses specific language structures for each. Unsworth uses a functional grammar approach to describing this language, writing that such a description can be used across subjects while at the same time effectively show the distinct 'literacies' of different subjects.
As with other pieces on literacy in the curriculum, I found myself drawn to the bibliography highlighting other works that I will go and look for (literacy for Maths, Veel, R, which is given as 'in press' at the time of writing).
Unsworth argues for explicit teaching of the language specifics of different subjects to learners as part of the subject learning itself (music to the ears!).
Both Science and History languages are full of nominalisation - turning actions, processes, verb phrases, into 'things', noun phrases. This allows the writer to pack more content carrying words into sentences, use less words to say what they want (and a whole host of other reasons). Science does this for expressing the technical and scientific meanings in the subject, History does this for example for 'colouring' descriptions of events. This may be making a period of time into a noun phrase so that the period can be described as the actor in a chain of events, and make a period carry 'responsibility' for an outcome (and a whole host of other reasons). This is a technique a writer may use to express their own opinion about the events, or hide it. This language is very characteristic of written subject area texts, or the written language of learning.
page 514 'effective access to knowledge and understanding in curriculum areas entail access to the grammatical resources characteristic of the written mode'
One of the aspects of the article which I found particularly entertaining is what Unsworth calls 'talking out' texts. That is taking a chunk of text from a textbook and turning it into 'spoken language'. Spoken language we learn is usually full of many linked clauses, each clause with only a few content carrying messages, words. Written language carries less clauses to say the same thing, and with many more content carrying words in each clause. There is a message, which I don't think Unsworth makes completely explicit, and that is that you have to start with the language the learners use to express their ideas about a given content area and then show/teach them how to turn it into the formal language of the subject. Apologies to Mr Unsworth if I've mistaken his idea, but this does make a lot of sense and would show a way forward to implementing all of the important ideas and information in the article into classroom practice.
Subject teacher to students: How would you describe this? explain this? define that?
This is what it looks like in scientific language...
That classroom practice has explicit focus on subject specific grammar.
I'm going to go on now and seek out other papers referred to in Unsworth's piece.
|26th March 2010|