One of the most relevant topics that we, teachers, have been dealing with recently is the issue of Teaching Languages in an Integrated approach. First of all, I would like to say that a number of teachers and advisors are already working hard preparing materials and putting them into practice with their students. A big effort is being made so that teachers in all schools become aware of how important this is and thanks to Getxolinguae, many of us started thinking about the possibility of teaching the three or four languages learned at our schools –Basque, Spanish, English and French in an integrated way. Needless to say, the Plurilingual Projects being carried out at a lot of our schools, are a great help when using this approach towards the teaching of languages.
There are some drawbacks though, and in my opinion, the main one is the fact that whenever we think about cooperative teaching and involving different departments in a school we tend to panic, as teachers in our educational system are used to working individually. In spite of that, we know that to make our students get involved in the process of learning, we have to make changes, so most of us have already started working with the colleagues in our departments in order to apply new ways of teaching in our lessons. To carry out these changes we work a great amount of time looking for and preparing new materials. Our students prepare projects, they use the internet to search information, they do oral presentations with the help of Power Points… We use content based activities using English as a means to learn other subjects and we start sharing experiences with the Geography, History, Philosophy and Science teachers… Once we are at this stage, we feel that our students are more motivated and they start to see the point of learning English, so we decide to go on and try to start working with the other language departments at school BUT this is not easy! We don’t do the same kind of activities and we don’t follow the same approach, consequently, working together becomes a complicated task.
However, is it really so difficult? I don’t think so. All the language teachers are now familiar with the Portfolio. Furthermore, the competences that our students have to develop are the same for all the languages so, what we really need is time and be willing to work. Obviously, we shouldn’t try to change things too quickly. We could start implementing some of the materials that are already prepared and see how they work. I’m sure once we get started, we’ll see that our time and work is worth it! The best and easiest way to try this approach is to contact the Berritzeguneak, they will provide us with the materials and we can also take part in school projects.
See you at the next Getxolinguae in May.
Mª Jesús Domínguez (IES Julio Caro Baroja)