CLIL and EMI

Oxford University Press have just sent out an invitation to an online conference aimed at teachers in Asia. The topic is EMI/CLIL, and in a blog post presenting the topic, Julie Dearden, the Head of English Medium Instruction at the University of Oxford’s Hertford College, compares EMI and CLIL. She points out that EMI is content through English with no attempt to teach English, whilst CLIL is teaching/learning English whilst teaching/learning the subject content at the same time.

You can read her blog here:

https://oupeltglobalblog.com/2017/02/02/emi-and-clil-a-growing-global-trend/

I’ve just come back from giving a four-day introduction to CLIL to teachers involved in vocational training in Cantabria, in Northern Spain, and on reading Julie’s blog two things occurred to me immediately:

a) why is this conference limited to teachers in Asia? EMI is very much part of the European university scene today, and is quickly becoming part of vocational training, too.

b) why are we doing CLIL in secondary education in Spain? All the way through secondary students receive English classes given by qualified and trained English language teachers. Subject teachers, on the other hand, are not trained in language teaching and frequently feel that their own level of English is inadequate to this task (teaching English).

By taking an EMI approach, however, we free subject teachers to focus on what they know best and have been trained to teach, their subject content. We also avoid running the risk of learners under-valueing their subject teachers’ competence because of weaknesses in their English language competences. An EMI approach presents these currently worried teachers as what they are – subject experts who can communicate their subject matter through English, as opposed to English teachers who neither understand SLA nor speak the language ‘perfectly’ (whatever that may mean).

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