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ECML PROGRAMME - Programme 2012-2015

A pluriliteracies approach to teaching for learning

A pluriliteracies approach builds on CLIL approaches to help learners become better meaning-makers, who can draw on content knowledge to communicate successfully across languages, disciplines and cultures. In this way it promotes deep learning and helps develop responsible, global citizens.

Context

It is generally recognised that CLIL has the potential to benefit both language instruction and subject learning. Research   shows that CLIL can generate more confident FL users whose content knowledge is not sacrificed. However, there is increasing concern that CLIL does not systematically address the kind of academic discourse required to become pluriliterate users of subject disciplines. CLIL appears to stop short of enabling learners to articulate new knowledge and become capable writers and critical readers in the FL. CLIL now needs to take a leap forward to support more learners in attaining academic language proficiency, otherwise it will fail to provide the ‘content-literacy’ required for democratic 21st century citizenship.  

As learners progress towards full literacy, precision become as important as fluency. In our ‘knowledge-everywhere society’ , learners need to access critical literacy devices to articulate and construct knowledge appropriately in the Sciences and the Humanities. Yet, subject literacy skills - essential to learners’ cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) - are often absent from CLIL practices. This poses major challenges: academic proficiency cannot be cultivated in a content-vacuum and for many learners ‘academic language’ can be alienating. Secondary subject teachers are often reluctant to address the issue of literacy, believing this to be the responsibility of language teachers. We believe that orienting CLIL towards the cultivation of pluriliterate citizenship will transform grammar-led language learning (which learners often perceive as difficult and senseless) into one which is literacy-oriented and content-connected. In ‘educating towards pluriliteracy’, CLIL will not only render content knowledge linguistically accessible yet cognitively challenging, but contribute to developing academic linguistic proficiency, a competence which is transferrable across languages and disciplines. To assist the necessary shift in mindset of CLIL teachers/teacher educators, our project will develop pluriliteracy CLIL-tools, drawing on research from language awareness, neuroscience, language acquisition and cognitive development brought together though a trans-European classroom study.

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