Thursday, 27 November 2014

On-line Argia magazine in English


Our next seminar session will aim at showing  how newspapers and magazines can be superb tools to help CLIL practitioners develop different curriculum areas. From these lines, I would like to share a new section of Argia magazine which offers a variety of news related to English and the Basque Country in  clear, accurate English. 

Please, add this web site  to the pack of resources I have already shared  with you  and the next time we meet  I will suggest ways of using this new source as well as  many other on-line magazines and newspapers   with our teenage students who are learning different areas through English.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is observed on November 25th because of a horrific historical event. On this day in 1960, three sisters were brutally killed in the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal sisters were political activists. They campaigned against Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. Their brutal execution triggered the anti-Trujillo movement and within a year the Trujillo dicatorship came to an end. The sisters were referred to as the "Unforgettable Butterflies" and they have become a symbol against victimization of women. 

To raise awareness and trigger action to end the global scourge of violence against women and girls, the UN proposes 16 Days of Activism against gender Violence. Enter the UN website and choose among the many proposals the ones you find the most suitable for your students. 

A good way of starting could be this quiz to test your students' knowledge on this issue.

"In the words of"  is also a very interesting reading proposal because it features first-person articles written by celebrities, well-known personalities and women's wights activists. 

Last but not least, I reckon that  boys  could benefit from knowing about the heforshe campaign that was born to underline the role of  so many men who in recent years have started to stand up in addressing inequalities and discrimination faced by women.  Emma Watson's speech at the  UN Headquarters can be an excellent resource  to raise awareness of the need for boys and men's collaboration to fight gender inequality:

You can find the script of her speech here.

Finally, if you want a ready-to-use lesson plan that helps you to work on language while developing this topic, do not miss the proposal taken  from 
a great website with many lesson plans.  I have  downloaded it for you  so you can access it from here.

I hope that the ideas I have laid out above enable all of  us  to make our students  reflect upon the causes and consequences of gender inequality and, above all, teach them to respect the value of gender equality so that they are able to know a different reality in a near future.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Cyberbullying, sexting, grooming are  starting to get into our dictionaries because unfortunately traditional bullying has evolved into a new way of humiliating  or harassing kids and teenagers. Cyberbullying means that someone  may be harassed  by someone else hiding behind his or her cell phone or computer screen.  I reckon that our role as teachers must include setting out clear standards of behaviour when they use the Internet, social networking sites and mobile phones. 

An example of a classroom practice that can help to  make our students aware of the dangers of the net is this sequence by Pilar Torres, a Secondary English teacher from Angel de Saavedra High School in Córdoba.  In this project, students listen, speak and write in English about computers, social networks and internet safety. Regarding language, they will learn the vocabulary related to the topics mentioned before and they will be provided with  a very meaningful context to use the modal verb "should" to give advice  to their peers.

The final outcome of the project is a digital poster that includes advice on internet safety and a very useful rubric to assess both the format and the content  in the poster is suggested by Pilar.

Some other related resources may be:

Digizen website

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Nowadays, all CLIL practitioners can get material for their content areas from a variety of sources, such as the Internet or from coursebooks. However, on many occasions materials have to be adapted so as to make them easier for students. I have written other entries on this blog on the convenience of providing students with visual scaffolding so today I would like to give some clues on how to make content in a Music lesson easier for students without diminishing the amount of content-obligatory language.
Content-obligatory language could be defined as the language needed for subject matter mastery in the mainstream classroom. This language consists of words, structures, collocations  and functions which are essential for the topic they are studying.

CLIL students will also need content-compatible language, i.e. the everyday kind of language which is useful for both the study of a specific topic and for general use  (verbs like blow, hit, play which will be useful in a Music lesson but also in everyday situations)
I have mentioned the word language twice so it is important to stop at this point to clarify that the  CLIL teacher focuses on language only in the sense of enhancing the effectiveness of this role; he or she should not spend his/her time  explaining the difference between the past simple and present perfect. That is precisely why coordination between language and subject teachers is essential in order to identify language problems in the topic in advance so that they can be dealt with effectively.

Let’s focus on a text that can be part of a Music lesson on the orchestra (string instruments) and see how we could make it easier for students while respecting the necessary amount of content-obligatory language.  This is my proposal.