CLIL (“Context and Language Integrated Learning”) in Exeter
(January 16 – January 31, 2015)
The day before my teacher training course started I flew from Dortmund airport first to London and later from London to Exeter. The first great challenge, however, was to get from London Stansted to the City Airport, where I my connecting flight to Exeter departed. It took me almost 3 hours to get from one airport to the other by bus and underground, and that was definitely no fun with all the luggage I was carrying.
Once I had arrived, a great time began. I stayed in “IPC House“, a nice Victorian building the school normally offers to two students, however, there was no other person booked on that house in January, so I had the whole place for myself and it became a nice meeting point form me and my two “classmates” from France and Reunion. We worked there together, did our “homework” together and also had a great time cooking or watching DVDs.
But let’s come to the more important things – the school and the course for example.
The school I attended was the “IPC” (International Projects Centre) in Exeter, one of many language schools there. They offer courses for younger students as well as teacher training courses. However, in January the only students there were the three of us. This means my course was the only course running at that time and I only had two classmates, one young Math and English secondary school teacher from Nice and a Geography teacher from Reunion, an island in the Caribbean. We really had a good time together and spent, apart from our time in class, nice evenings together talking about our home schools, our students, the school system in our home countries and many other things. So I learned a lot about the French system.
I attended a CLIL-course, even though I didn’t really know in advance what exactly CLIL is. But after I had found out, I realized that it is a great concept also for language teachers. CLIL means “Content and Language Integrated Learning“, so you would normally teach subjects like Math, History or Geography in English. However, even for me CLIL was / is a very interesting topic, since I have to teach job-related topics at my home school as well. For example, I developed and put into practice a lesson about baking „Devonshire splits”, using methods like “chunking” or “scaffolding” Cathy had taught us before. I also used that lesson with my German students later and it worked out well. Our course teachers, Cathy and Roger, were highly motivated and very skilled. Cathy knew everything about methodology and classroom ideas and we could ask her whatever we wanted to know and always got a competent answer. Roger was the history and politics expert. We spent interesting afternoons with him, talking about everyday life in Britain today and in the past. For example, we learned a lot about the Brits’ attitude towards Europe.
Even though the school and the course were the most important and also most intense part of my time in Exeter, we also had some free-time in which we explored the region. On the first Saturday we went to Sidmouth with Roger. That was a trip organized by the school. We walked along the beach, did some sightseeing and had an interesting lunch with Roger telling us stories about the “English way of life”. The next day my colleagues and I went to Plymouth by train. At school Cathy gave us information about some places of interest in Plymouth, so we were well prepared to have an interesting Sunday as well. But not only were the weekends full of fun and action. We also spent some evenings doing sightseeing in Exeter, for example we booked a “Ghost tour“ or visited the cathedral, as well as we visited the one or other pub for a pint. ;-)
To sum it all up, I can really say that thanks to Erasmus + I had an excellent time in Exeter. Nevertheless, having a good time didn’t mean holiday. It was a lot of work as well, but in a very pleasant surrounding. Sometimes I even felt like I had travelled back in time to my teacher training, for example when Cathy asked us to write lesson plans, or to my time as a student, for example when we had a Math lesson with the French colleague. I never liked Math when I was a student, but Math in England with a French teacher and CLIL as a completely new concept for me, was a very interesting and also demanding experience.