Thursday, 17 December 2015



Particle fever (2014) is a fascinating documentary film that follows six scientists working to see if the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at 
CERN will produce evidence of the Higgs boson, commonly referred to as the "God particle." Although safe for all ages, the subject matter of Particle Fever makes this movie most appropriate for high school students and older. The science presented is top-notch, with complicated physics explained in language that everyone should be able to understand.

Why am I writing about this documentary in my CLIL blog today? Well, I reckon that this documentary conveys in a superb way the passion of some researchers for Science but also the honest attitudes one can adopt to grasp knowledge of our world.  Therefore, I would say that we can make use of this documentary in several subjects: Technology, Maths, Physics, Philosophy or Citizenship. You can follow the official trailer below these lines: 

 If you like the proposal, let me just help a bit with some study questions. You can find them here.

Monday, 7 December 2015


Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Many years have passed and unfortunately there is still a long way ahead to guarantee the fundamental freedoms and protect the human rights of all. However, it also has to be said that  there are many organisms and individuals who are working hard to collaborate to protect human rights. Today I would like to write about one of these individuals. Her name is  Benedetta Berti.  She  is  a foreign policy and security researcher, analyst, consultant, author and lecturer. Her work focuses on human security and internal conflicts, as well as on post-conflict stabilization/consolidation (specifically integration of armed groups, democracy/governance and crisis management and prevention).

Today I would like to share one of her video lessons  to start analyzing the complexity of this issue with students. In less than five minutes, Benedetta offers an accurate insight into the limits of the current mechanisms that aim at protecting human rights. She also highlights the need to  update the existing mechanisms if we want to preserve human rights  in the current digital world we live in. 

Therefore, I reckon it would be worthwhile spending five minutes on viewing the video above with students and I suggest  fostering  students'  discussion after viewing it. I hope you will find this lesson plan useful.  

My second proposal for classroom use  is based on  "Blowing in the wind" by Bob Dylan. Composed in 1963, its message is very much alive in 2015. The song includes a string  of provoking questions to make us aware of the fact that the largest cause of human rights violations is mental disconnection  from the reality that affects others: "how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see?" 

You can find a simple activity to carry out while students listen to the song here.

Finally, I would like to suggest some other sources that include plenty of resources for classroom use: 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. November 25 2015

Prevention is the 2015 theme  of the International Day for the Elimination of violence against women  on 25 November and of the UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign’s 16 days call for action. You can see more at: The United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites you to "Orange the world: end violence against women and girls".  We have sixteen days (since November 25th till December 10th) to collaborate by using the toolkit and sharing our photos, messages and videos showing how we can  orange our world at using #orangetheworld.

I would  also like to tell you about,  a webpage with plenty of resources  that you can use to raise students' awareness of the need to fight for a world in which girls and women can live safe from violence, go to school without fear, marry who they want and have their voices heard.

As I  focus my councelling in school contexts and as most of my readers work in school contexts too, I have chosen a resource that fosters reflection on  how violence  against girls can take place  in or around schools. You can find it here

The following video can serve as a starting point:

My humble contribution to this campaign of prevention outlined above can very well include a song because I cannot agree more with Hans Christian Andersen when he said that  "where words fail, music speaks".  On this occasion, my choice is "Try", by American singer Colbie Caillat. I consider this is an empowering  song because I believe that the best prevention starts by making young girls understand that they do not have to be someone else in order to make others happy. The lyrics convey this message very effectively. I hope your students will enjoy the song as much as I do. If you wish, you can carry out  an activity on it. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Jigsaw Technique as a way to facilitate reading in CLIL contexts

The video above describes the cooperative learning technique called "Jigsaw reading" in a very clear way but below these lines you can find my description and reflection on the topic:

Defined broadly, Jigsaw is a grouping strategy in which the members of the class are organized into "jigsaw" groups. The students are then reorganized into "expert" groups containing one member from each jigsaw group. The members of the expert group work together to learn the material or solve the problem, then return to their "jigsaw" groups to share their learning. In this way, the work of the expert groups is quickly disseminated throughout the class, with each person taking responsibility for sharing a piece of the puzzle.
Let me suggest a simple way to carry out this technique: 

           -   Divide the reading text into separate extracts and form student groups. The groups    should be diverse in terms of ability.

    -  Form temporary expert groups in which students are assigned to the same extract. Give students in these expert groups time to discuss the main points of their segment and to rehearse the presentations they will make to their jigsaw group.

  -  Then bring the students into jigsaw groups that are composed of one student from each expert group. Have each student present her or his extract to the group. At the end of the session, you may give a quiz so that students are held accountable for learning all the material.

The teacher's role in the jigsaw is to facilitate learning. When students are in expert groups, the teacher can support students by encouraging them to find ways to put information they learned into their own words, to relate the material to their own lives, and to give examples that help them explain the material to their group. Students should be encouraged to help each other and to make sure everyone in their group understands the material and will be confident presenting it to his or her group.

How can we make use of this strategy in any content areas?. Here you can find an example for a Science class. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Breakthrough to CLIL for Chemistry and Physics

Cambridge University Press has just released a couple of books aimed at helping EFL students who are learning Physics and Chemistry through English to undertand the content of their subject courses and build the necessary English language skills for those contexts. The book is made up of several units, each of which covers an area of Physics or Chemistry. As for the areas of English language covered in these books, they have been selected for their relevance to understanding and discussing the content areas of Physics and Chemistry.

I  am sure the publications above will be of great help for  those of you teaching Physics and Chemistry through English. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Breakthrough to CLIL team on their great work.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Inquiry-Based Learning: Developing Student-Driven Questions in CLIL classrooms

Last August I read that Wildwood IB World Magnet School uses the inquiry-based model to put students in charge of their learning. This model is based on lessons that stem from student questions and harness the power of curiosity so   I asked myself: why don't we try doing the same in our CLIL contexts? Why not in every content area? 

When you watch the video above, I am sure you will agree that the model has to be effective if  a teacher utters a sentence as powerful as the following one:  

"All of a sudden,  we see our students doing things that really matter to them and they're excited and they're passionate and they want to talk about what they're learning".

How can we create a culture of enquiry? First of all, we need to create the atmosphere that allows students  to ask comfortably. If students don’t feel welcome in the classroom, they won't ask questions or engage in the learning. This is a great step in the right direction but it may not be enough because many students need support in asking questions and creating different kinds of questions for different situations. In order to fulfill this goal, teachers should use a variety of strategies, such as structured protocols and question starters to support students in asking effective questions.

At this point I would like to recommend a great book  by  Wiggins and McTighe:" Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding". You can read a very interesting extract from the book here which includes essential questions organized by areas.

You can also facilitate your students' inquiry-based learning through some ready-to-use  tools for the classroom. I reckon you will like this tool provided by (It  also includes a task on note-taking and another one on vocabulary).

On October 13th we will meet for our  first seminar session and I will try and spend some time on  this engaging issue of "inquiry-based learning" and its usefulness in our CLIL classrooms. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

European Day of languages: September 26th

September the 26th is the European Day of Languages. The Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) created the day on the 6th of December 2001. Its main aim is to encourage language learning across Europe. All Europeans are encouraged to take up a new language. The founders of this day also hope those responsible for providing access to language learning are encouraged to make it easier for people to learn languages.
 I would personally like to take the opportunity this blog offers me to  encourage all of you who teach different languages to raise awareness among your students about the privilege they share as citizens of a continent that displays such  linguistic and cultural diversity as Europe does. 

You can access a huge number of resources on the net  but I will facilitate your research by listing  some of them:

The European Centre for Modern Languages offers activities in 30 different languages. (The section entitled "Teachers' area" includes plenty of materials to use in class).
The BBC web page 
ESL Holiday Lessons Plans
Ready-to-use materials provided by the Council of Europe 

Last but not least, this video on "The benefits of speaking different languages" by Mia Nacamulli can be very convincing for adults and students too:

Being able to choose among so many resources, I am sure that   we will not miss the opportunity to celebrate this crucial date with our students - not on Saturday 26th though!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

FACTWorld and CLIL

The Bulgarian English Teachers' Association  held a Conference in Sofia on June 6th 2015 and Keith Kelly developed a  very clarifying workshop on 'CLIL for ELTs'. 

Throughout our seminar sessions we have been talking about the need to provide students who are learning an area through English with the language support  which will enable them to understand the content as well as to write about it or prepare an oral presentation on it.  You will find a very  clear example of how to support students with the required language on Heredity. 

As you run through the slides, you will also witness how groups of students carry out project based learning  in Science classes.  There are different examples for young learners but I like one that  shows a a group of very young learners working on "Let's launch a rocket together" and we can see how they have a great time while  they learn content related to rocket design  and use the language they need  (nouns, action verbs and the language of comparison).

The slides also include very interesting  "product" projects, one of which I highly recommend for Chemistry teachers: Chemistry as a Cultural Enterprise. Here you will be able to take part in School partnership projects and/or see the projects that have already been completed.  I also reckon that  Chemistry teachers  are bound to find the  "Publications" and "News" sections really interesting.

One of the last slides includes some essential references for those  teachers who implement different areas at Primary and Secondary levels  through English , such as the Forum for across the Curriculum Teaching and the  Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council  website.  The section called "News, events and publications" will  open a door to   a great deal of news that can add an element of motivation to your classes.  There are clearly written texts and in some cases  there is a video and even the video transcript itself.  If you enter here, you will find a nice example: "How do we choose the food we eat?" 

Therefore,  I would like to thank Keith Kelly  for sharing this  workshop with all of us.  You can follow it  below these lines:

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


Next Tuesday May 26th we will have our last seminar session together. It will also be the second session in which teachers from different curriculum areas will present part of their work to the rest of the group. I am sure all of us  (18 teachers in the group at the moment of writing these lines) will gain a considerable amount of knowledge next Tuesday as we did in the previous session. Right now it is truly difficult for me to choose a topic among the many that make up "the universe of CLIL" and write a final post on it. Therefore, I will just t list the main topics we have developed since October so that all of you can check that your folders are filled up with every topic in this list and  next Tuesday we will decide on   seminar session priorities for our CLIL classes.

This is the list of topics we have covered since October 2014 till May 2015:

- What is CLIL?  What makes it so motivating for students? What makes it different from traditional bilingual instruction?

- Planning a CLIL unit

- Support for CLIL learners

- Interrelation between Content and Language: successful ways to do it

- A deep analysis of BICS and CALPS in CLIL contexts

- Vocabulary instruction in CLIL contexts

- The most useful ICT resources for subjects taught through English

- Assessment and evaluation in CLIL classrooms 

Check that you have the whole pack and ask me if you missed any of the resources for each of the topics above.

I will finish with a recommendation: Cambridge webinar on Supporting Primary and Secondary teachers in CLIL contexts. You can access the slides from here  and you can follow the webinar below these lines:


Thursday, 16 April 2015


Jason Skeet , NILE training consultant, delivered a very interesting  on-line webinar on Feedback and Assesment in CLIL on April 2nd. Skeet is an experienced consultant and trainer in CLIL at Utrecht University and has provided advice and training for bilingual schools throughout The Netherlands. If you could not attend this webinar, now you can listen to the complete recording here. The ppt  slides that he used can be found here. I reckon they offer a very clarifying insight into the complex issue of Feedback and Assessment in CLIL. 

There is no doubt that any educator needs to adjust his/her teaching taking assessment into account and as CLIL practitioners, in the teaching and learning process, we should  focus not only on content, and not only on language. Each is interwoven, even if the emphasis is greater on one or the other at a given time. All this should be considered when facing  assessment

Next seminar session we will tackle this challenging issue. Our focus will be placed on looking at practical suggestions and ideas that can be applied in a CLIL classroom.

Apart from this, our session on April 21st will be the first of two sessions in which seminar members will present the work they have done on oral skills in content areas, written presentations, other activities that have proved to be truly successful and  personal sites where diverse  CLIL units have been uploaded.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

World Water Day 2015 on March 22nd

World Water Day is March 22nd — a day when the world turns its attention towards the 750 million people who lack access to safe water.  From these lines, I would like to contribute to raising awareness of the importance of this issue among our students.  
The following video can be a nice starting point:

The British Council website offers a very complete range of activities that you can carry out after watching the video. You can access them here. You will find both on-line ("check for understanding: multiple choice and gap fil") and off-line activities ("worksheets and downloads").

Really moving stories that describe the drama millions of people are going through can be found on Since co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White in  in 1990, has helped hundreds of communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean gain access to safe water and sanitation.
You can also make students listen to the following interview with Matt Damon about the water crisis in 2010:

A wide variety of resources is offered by the United Nations website.  Logos and posters in many different languages can be downloaded from here.

Finally, a very practical ready-to-print lesson plan is offered, as usual, by ESL Holiday Lessons. You can work on this plan and students are bound to learn lots of language while they also get a glimpse of the crisis affecting one of the most precious resources we possess. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

International Women's Day 2015

20 years have passed since 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists streamed into Beijing for the opening of the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995.They were remarkably diverse, coming from around the globe, but they had a single purpose in mind: gender equality and the empowerment of all women, everywhere. By the time the conference closed, it had produced the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern. Even 20 years later, it remains a powerful source of guidance and inspiration.

The following video can be an excellent introduction to a series of sessions to celebrate International Women's Day 2015:

After viewing this video, you can proceed with a text on International Women's Day and some activities on it. Choose the ones that best fit your school context  from the lesson plan you can get here.

If you have the chance to spend some sessions on the topic, this is a nice webquest on "Important women in the world". It is aimed at making students aware of the important work different women belonging to different work areas have carried out. You can adapt it and include other women if you think other choices may be more successful with your students. 

For those of you who share my passion for music as a means to create the proper atmosphere and convey powerful messages,  I have two proposals: the first one is Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive". Even though it was released in 1978, it has remained a true pop music anthem that highlights women's strength. You can download the lyrics here  and this is a worksheet you can use with your students.

My  second proposal is "A woman's worth". This was Alicia Key's second single. In this song, she wrote about self-esteem, and being worthy of the kindness of others. Keys feels it can relate to a man or a woman  so I reckon it is  very suitable for our students  because they can  listen to a song that describes what good relations should be like.

The video was shot in Brooklyn, near where she grew up:

The lyrics of the song offer a great opportunity to convey the powerful message of relations based on respect and equality. Precisely because the message is so powerful, I decided to forget about grammar objectives such as the first conditional or modal verbs and to offer students some activities which would enable them to fully understand the meaning of words and sentences in the song. That's why I developed  this worksheet

I hope that the proposals above will contribute to step up our efforts to foster gender equality in our classes  

Friday, 20 February 2015


A Webquest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995. Since then,  thousands of teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to make good use of the internet while engaging their students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century requires.  

Webquests promote high-level thinking, develop problem-solving skills, and provide an avenue for seamlessly integrating technology into the curriculum.

When coming to CLIL contexts, I would say that they add the following benefits:

-  They are student-centered and there is true active learning  involved. 

- The teacher becomes a mere facilitator. (He/she will check that the resources and links provided are working before students start carrying out the tasks and will monitor the process. A good webquest includes teacher's notes to know what his/her role should be)

- They provide really meaningful contexts in which students are in contact with everyday language settings that are applicable to their lives.

- Interpersonal skills become essential throughout the process since the learning activities are based on projects and research development roles.

- Cooperative learning is a major characteristic of task-based projects.

- Culture is a core area and the other 3 Cs (content, communication and cognition)  are also crucial elements in good webquests.

Our next seminar on March 17th will focus on how to choose adequate proposals for our CLIL contexts from the many available sites for teachers. 

Right now I would just like to show you a couple of good examples: the first one I have chosen is a webquest on cloning which can be used in Science but also in Ethics. You can find it here.

During this Webquest, students will be exposed to interactive expository texts that describe the basics of cloning, the history of cloning and the controversial applications of cloning. Students will simulate the procedure of laboratory cloning and they will also formulate an opinion on the ethics of cloning endangered/extinct species. Thus, a wonderful extension for this Webquest could be a classroom discussion/debate on the ethics of cloning endangered/extinct species

My second example deals with a very interesting topic: what really ended World War II, which could be useful for History teachers. This is the link to it.

This is an introductory post to the topic but I would like to finish by letting you know that next seminar session I will present lots of examples for your content areas and I will also suggest how to  identify really  good webquests. 

Have a look at the following rubric so that you can start your own search for valid webquests  if you wish. 

Last but not least, I am embedding a prezzi presentation by two professors that provides a very clear  introduction to the  topic:

Thursday, 5 February 2015


The role vocabulary plays in reading and content area lessons is not the same. In fact,  there are important differences between the two.  For example, the words temerity and fulcrum in a novel do not relate to each other. Therefore, understanding the meaning of one and not the other in the book has little impact on the readers’ comprehension of the entire text.

However, in a content area, words are related to concepts and are often related among themselves. Take for instance the words atom, neutrons, protons, nucleus and electrons. These words are necessary to know in order to understand the concept of an electron cloud. Therefore, students need a thorough understanding of content vocabulary because these words are labels for important concepts. Acquisition of  the meanings of these words is necessary in order to learn further concepts.

Furthermore, the word nucleus in Chemistry is different from the word’s definition in Biology. This is because each discipline has its own language or technical vocabulary that students must learn in order to comprehend specific content-area information.

Another  essential consideration is that content vocabulary consists of many low-frequency words that do not appear in other contexts.

All the differences mentioned above leave no doubt that  a  different approach to vocabulary instruction in  content areas is needed, mainly  one which enables students to integrate  new terms with what they already know. Apart form this, vocabulary instruction in content areas has to ensure that new terms are  taught and retaught in multiple contexts and allow students  to use these  new terms in ways that are meaningful to them as often as possible.

Content area teachers can get considerable help from language teachers if they provide them with information about the vocabulary  strategies that work in their English language classes, so I suggest that English language teachers should carry out a simple survey among students so as to make them aware of  the vocabulary strategies they are using and  the need to use some they are still not familar with.

Experts on strategies that lead to effective acquisition of the subject-specific vocabulary have to be known by content area teachers:   Keith Kelly provides us with excellent resources so as to work on vocabulary in Science and Geography  in three different stages:

- Working with words

- Working with sentences

- Working with texts

For those of you who wish to have a bank of basic vocabulary  strategies that can be used in any content area, this file can be very useful. I will try to show you how you can adapt them to your specific subjects in our next session together on February 10th. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Julie Dearden's research on EMI

The British Council web site has just published
Julie Dearden's research on English as a medium of Instruction Julie Dearden is the Senior Research and Development Fellow in English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) at Oxford University Department of Education (OUDE) and has a particular interest in the global shift from English being taught as a ‘foreign’ language to English being used as a medium of instruction for other academic subjects. She is a member of the OUDE Applied Linguistics research group which aims to increase understanding of the acquisition and use of language from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. Julie manages a new research centre which was established in March 2014: EMI Oxford. This centre conducts research into English as Medium of Instruction

The report is a bird's eye view or a snapshot of the views and issues involved when implementing EMI. The report is based on a recent worldwide survey conducted with British Council staff acting as informed respondents and covers 55 countries, Spain included. The study was conducted from October 2013 to March 2014 and investigated the current situation of EMI in terms of country's particularities, subjects being taught through EMI and important variables according to educational phases. 

I reckon this publication offers a deep insight into the crucial factors which influence effective EMI and essential implications for classroom contexts are accurately described. In short, a must-read for CLIL practitioners.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A lesson plan on Globalization

A new year has just begun and I know that all of us are eager to fill it in with new hopes, projects and illusion in our personal and professional environments. 
My humble contribution at the start of this year will be a lesson plan I have developed for Secondary 3 and 4 level students on the topic of Globalization.

Although this topic can be included  both in Geography and Citizenship content areas,  I reckon that the proposal I offer might be just  an introduction to the topic in a Geography class but a complete sequence in Citizenship. 

CLIL  practice is much more effective when coordination between the language teacher and the subject teacher takes place so this lesson plan would work much better if this coordination took place and the English language teacher could present the basic  vocabulary and language  (mainly contrast clauses, language for expressing opinions and language  and structure of an opinion essay)

In case coordination between the subject teacher and the English  language teacher is not possible,  I have added some language support for the students and for the subject teacher who  might need it.

Regarding the focus on language, I have tried to choose some activities that help students with differences that are basic in any content area and not only in Citizenship or  Geography: language that is used to express facts versus language that is used to express opinions, language that  shows certainty and language that shows uncertainty; language that conveys caution; language for generalizations; language for contrast.

You can read the whole lesson plan and find all handouts for you and for the students here.

I hope you will find my proposal useful. We will talk about it in our next seminar session together.