Read all about Eurocall 2013 in ÉVORA, Portugal 11th to 14th September 2013 https://sites.google.com/site/eurocallpt/where the TOOLS teams will run a half-day workshop on how to apply CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) with the support of the free software service, which we are developing http://multidict.net/clilstore
Archive for February, 2013
Yesterday was the day when Marijampoles profesinio rengimo centras team of TOOLS project introduced Clilstore and the whole project system to a big group of Marijampole teachers of foreign languages. The course was advertised through the Department of Education of Marijampole Administration, and at least 18 teachers registered for the course and tested the clilstore system. The workshop took place in Marijampole VET Centre with teachers from our institution participating as well. The group was really big- 20 teachers occupied every seat of IT class, because for Clilstore we certainly needed internet connection. We were glad to welcome teachers of various ages and representing different schools. A pleasant surprise was seeing teachers not only from the town, but from smaller towns of the region as well.
Teachers from gymnasiums usually don’t work with clil method, because the decision to apply it belongs, as a rule to either general policies of education or at least a choice of the whole institution. However, the teachers were pleased to discover multiple ways of applying the tool simply to teach their subject- a foreign language. Everyone knows that language is taught/learnt by topics, e.g. family, school, eating out, travel, etc. The Clilstore and the system offer an interesting supplement to the items and exercises provided by textbooks. Moreover, every teacher agreed that each class has its own “greedy” students, who cope with every task much quicker than the rest of the group and are asking for more all the time. Clilstore is an attractive way to satisfy those greedy students. They can be involved in the topics to suit their specific interests, thus building their intercultural knowledge and understanding. The key issue is that the learner is gaining new knowledge about the ‘non-language’ subject while encountering, using and learning the foreign language, and this process of language learning is simplified through engagement in “real life” stories and issues, that the students can choose themselves. The choice on YouTube, TED and other popular network don’t show any signs of short supply. In the workshop the language teachers’ community of the region was represented by specialists of the English, German and Russian languages.
An Erasmus Intensive Language Course took place at the University of Évora between the 21st of January and the 8th of February. We had 17 students from Spain, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland. These were 17 very enthusiastic young men and women who were preparing themselves for a semester in Portugal. They came from diferente áreas, such as architecture, archaelogy, finances, psychology, tourism… so they had diferente ways of looking at the learning of a foreign language.
These students were asked to try the online units available on Clilstore. So, after a full day of classes, they were given time to explore portuguese on their own. Every day from 16h30 to 18h30 students had the chance not only to explore the existing units on Clilstore, but also encouraged too creating new ones. Their favourite unit was “Amor de estudante”, but they also practice their language skils “Vou às compras” and “O quarto de uma estudante universitária”. And the unit about the Alphabet was very useful to practice the sounds of the portuguese language. About Clistore one of them said that it “Easy to find & understand words.” Other enphatized how quick it was when you want to understand a texto: “It was easy to use, fast.” One of the points taken was that Clilstore gives the possibility “(…) to read and translate on the same webpage”. As for the downsides of the Clilstore área one critic was very common: “It was cold in the computer room”. Well, unfortunately Clilstore did not come with an heating system! It was a very cold room, but still students enjoyed their time there. In more than one occasion we had to let them know that it was past the time.
On 24-25 January Caoimhín Ó Dónaill and Neil Comer from the Ulster Tools team travelled to the University of Southampton, England to deliver a Clilstore workshop at the Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies’ (LLAS) annual eLearning Symposium http://www.llas.ac.uk/events/archive/6636.
The workshop drew a capacity crowd who were made up of course developers and teachers of a wide variety of languages. The feedback the participants provided following the workshop was very positive, and we are particularly grateful for the constructive recommendations for improvement which we received from the group. To make it easier for participants to provide feedback we placed a link to an electronic survey on the desktop of each computer in the training suite. The results of the survey showed that the participants were satisfied that the workshop had provided them with a clear and informative introduction to the Tools project and Clilstore and that by the end of the session they had been given the opportunity to register with Clilstore and gain a sound basic knowledge of how to create units and utilise key supporting technologies such as YouTube. Given that the audience were keen supporters of elearning we were hoping to gain useful and challenging feedback on Clilstore and its potential applications, and we were not dissappointed. The main issue to arise was the consequence of not specifying a language code while compiling a unit. Unfortunately, a number of participants lost their work through this small omission. Following the workshop this problem was promptly highlighted to the project partners via email and specifically to our developer Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle. Unsurprisingly, Caoimhín swiftly found a stable resolution to the problem by (i) ensuring that form data could be now be retrieved by using the back button and (ii) making language code entry a required field. Other issues arising in the survey included comments on the appearance of the interface and the ability to filter units by topic. Both of these issues are thankfully among our main items for development, something which affirms that our development activites are in line with user demand and user expectations. A full breakdown of the survey results can be viewed here.
All in all this was a very worthwhile event which will hopefully result in future new users and help us create a buzz around the Tools Project and Clilstore.