The Roles of Language in CLIL
Content and Language Integrated Learning (“CLIL” for short) is currently an area which is arousing much interest among ELT researchers and practitioners. Building on strong communicative approaches such as task-based language teaching, CLIL classes combine the teaching of content with the learning of a language with a focus either more on the former or the latter, depending on the context and course. As the amount of research into CLIL grows and as more teachers find themselves teaching using the method, a study into how language is manifested and can be exploited for learning opportunities in in the CLIL classroom would seem a timely addition to the professional literature. The Roles of Language in CLIL has been written to fill that position.
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Macmillan Factual Readers
For the most part, graded readers need to be level-appropriate, well written and, most importantly, interesting. Macmillan’s new series of Factual Readers for young learners match all of these requirements. The 40 book series is divided into six levels covering the five topics of natural science, history, people, wildlife and transport. Full of pictures, tables and diagrams that bring the topics to life, these books offer a good alternative to the plethora of narrative-based readers that usually fill most extensive reading libraries.
The presentation of these books is very similar to what one would find in books for young native English speakers like Guinness World Records books or a Time for Kids Almanac. The presentation of information is bold, clear and well illustrated. For kids interested in general knowledge and unusual facts (as I was when I was a kid) they are perfect. While some of the lower levels may be by necessity rather basic, there are still some wonderful little bits of trivia for kids to digest. The pictures often raise questions which motivate the kids to read and find out what they are about.
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Teaching Young Learners to Think
This title is everything I love in a book – easy to use, well laid-out, attractive materials with excellent instructions, and above all activities that actually work well and serve a useful purpose in the EFL classroom!
Photocopiable resource books have been around for some years, and are an invaluable item in the resource centres and libraries of all language schools. Although not a new idea, this one is a little different in that it aims to provide material which will develop problem solving and decision making skills in tandem with language skills. The rationale behind this is twofold. Firstly, the activities aim to engage learners in cognitively-challenging activity – something that is often missing from language courses simply because all our language learners have an intellectual capacity that far exceeds their level in the target language. Secondly, the activities use language to complete non-linguistic tasks, thus creating a genuinely communicative situation, often with real-life-type tasks.
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Penguin Disney Kids Readers
This is a fantastic series of readers. I love them. However, let me continue this review in a more constructive light …
There are 23 books in the series and I feel they provide a nice mixture of traditional fairytales (Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, etc) and more modern film samples (Toy Story, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, etc). These book are undoubtedly catering to the interests and enthusiasms of YLs (young learners) today and the bright visuals and links to popular films should ensure these readers are a hit with students.
There are six levels, offering a path of progression from the very start of learning English to entry to CEF A1++ and I felt the language used in the stories at each level corresponded well to student ability. There are 14-36 pages of story, depending on level. If anything, the stories are so long by L6 that maintaining children’s interest while reading over a series of classes could be challenging.
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Super Simple Songs
Super Simple Songs consists of three CDs, available separately, which have twenty or so action songs each. Most of the songs are original or adapted from their traditional versions to make them super simple- exactly as their name would suggest! While having “Great for ESL!” written on their covers might make you think they are just adaptable for our kinds of classes, I’m guessing from how well they work and the fact that they come from Japan that they were actually designed for EFL classes of two to eight year olds and the publishers are just trying to expand their appeal outside that limited market. Having said that, my own English-speaking daughter loves some of the songs and The Bath Song (CD 1) has become part of our evening routine.
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Grammar One (part of the Oxford "Grammar" series for children)
The Grammar series of student books from Oxford neatly deals with the thorny issue of how to teach grammar to young learners in a communicative way. The series can be used as class books to prepare for the Cambridge ESOL Young Learners English Tests or as supplemental material to illustrate a specific grammar point. It all begins with Grammar Starter and Grammar One, which correspond with the Starter exam and then towards Movers. Grammar Two prepares young learners for the Movers tests and on towards Flyers. Finally the last of the series is Grammar Three, which works on the Flyers test and beyond. So you can use these as the main exam preparation book for your young learner classes for many different levels and grades.
Each book covers around twenty distinct grammar items that relate to the appropriate Cambridge exam. The item is presented in a short text or written dialogue to illustrate the meaning. The grammar explanation is on
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English for the Australian Curriculum Book 1
English for the Australian Curriculum (Book 1) is a new textbook aimed at teaching English and literacy in an Australian context for junior secondary (Junior High School), but I decided to try it in two of my university EFL classes in Japan where students were in their 3rd and 4th year of English study.
At first glance it is very colorful and glossy and its layout is well constructed and easy to navigate, although it is a little big and heavy to carry. The text begins with an informative Contents page, followed by a Foreword from the editors, information about the authors and also advice on how to use the book. The textbook itself is divided into 7 chapters which are color-coded, making it easy to access. Their titles are My Story Our Stories, Poetry Activated, Getting Animated: Genre and Narrative in Animated Films, Ghosts, Ghouls and Doppelgangers: Exploring Gothic Horror Stories, Fairytales Revamped, Meanwhile Somewhere Else: Three Films from Iran, and Dream On: Storytelling, Reality and Identity.
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English in Mind
English in Mind (Second Edition) is a course that the publishers claim is fresh and inspiring, especially designed to motivate teenagers, with 100% up-to-date content and extra attention on developing fluency. It has a Student’s Book DVD-ROM that contain games, extra exercises and video dramas featuring the photostory characters. The photostories also have a “videoke” function for students to record themselves taking part in the dialogue.
The books are level 3 which is B1 council of Europe level. They are standard A4 in size with a purple jacket. Inside, the student book is divided into 14 sections, with each one covering a different aspect of grammar, based around different topics. The first section is a recap of tenses previously
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Primary iDictionary 2
The Primary iDictionary 2 is an interactive picture dictionary CD-ROM published by Cambridge. It is designed for primary school aged learners of English with the vocabulary being suitable for children preparing for the Cambridge Movers exam.
The program contains over 300 words divided into 14 vocabulary topics ranging from animals to weather, as well as language-focused units on things like adjectives and past simple forms. In each topic, the vocabulary is presented via images with the accompanying word. The pronunciation of each word can also be listened to, as can the spelling of the word.
Each unit also contains a song, a story and a game, all of which draw on the vocabulary that is presented. The songs can be listened to with the lyrics or without, or in the ‘karaoke’ mode that allows the child to sing along. There are 4 different types of game: a drag and drop game in which words are matched to pictures; a drag and drop game in which items are added to a picture based on an audio description; a listen and match game in which a description of an item or action is listened to before choosing the corresponding image; and a memory card game in which matching pairs of cards need to be found.
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Macmillan Children’s Readers
These readers are described as being for ages 6-12, from Beginner to Pre-Intermediate level and I reviewed 6 readers from levels 1-4.
First flicking through these readers I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of pictures and details which had gone into the books. They are beautifully illustrated and a wide range of kids will appreciate the stories and be drawn in.
What really adds to the stories are the activities at the back of the book, practising the language covered in the reader. Another excellent factor is the picture dictionary, also at the end of each book.
Levels 1 and 2 have a short simple story to work from. The two books I reviewed were Hide and Seek and The Fancy Dress Competition. These are fun topics which would open up a range of extension activities for the classroom, using the readers as a basis.
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Cambridge Young Readers Factbooks: Why Is It So?
Why Is It So? is a series of twenty non-fiction readers for children with each title full of facts and information about the world around us. The series comes in six levels designed to fit in with the Cambridge Young Learners tests Starters (levels 1-2), Movers (levels 3-4) and Flyers (levels 5-6). Topics covered range from the physical sciences to the natural sciences, as well as astronomy.
The first two sections in each reader present questions of the kind a curious child might ask such as ‘Why are flowers different colours?’ or ‘How does a compass work?’ The explanations for each are concise and simple yet also informative, offering the children the chance to learn something new using language they can understand. There then follow sections featuring facts about the topic, including some extraordinary ‘Can you believe it?’ ones which are bound to fascinate young learners. Some history of the subject is also covered through the ‘Who found out?’ section which again will surely engage a child reader.
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Genki English Download Pack
There are so many ESL textbooks available out there for young learners. Many of the books are good, but students and teachers alike can become bored as the format contained in them is always the same and very repetitive. I am always changing my materials with my younger students in order to keep them interested and as I was sick of textbooks I jumped at the chance to try the Genki English Download Pack, a package which also gives you access to the VIP Owners Club. I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed when I first accessed it as there were so many materials available and I was wondering which one
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Primary Music Box
Traditional songs and activities for younger learners is the subtitle of Primary Music Box and it gives an accurate description of what you will find inside. The book is a collection of photocopiable worksheets complete with comprehensive Teacher’s Notes that provide plenty of activities to use to accompany the audio CD.
The book is organised into three sections by age and level (from 6 to 12 years and from beginner to elementary). Each section includes twelve songs that most teachers who have grown up in an English speaking country will be familiar with. Some are more traditional than others, but there are plenty of action songs (“The wheels on the bus”, “If you’re happy and you know it”) and amusing lyrics (“I found a peanut”, “On top of spaghetti”). Many of the songs remind me of my own school days when we spent many a Friday afternoon just singing songs, as a class or in a round. There is a small section on how to exploit songs in the classroom at the beginning of the book, including rounds, using props and adding new verses.
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Hip Hip Hooray!
Pearson Longman has just released the second edition of their Hip Hip Hooray! series. The series has six different levels with a Student Book, Workbook, Phonics Book, Teacher’s Edition, Class Audio CDs, Activity cards, Picture cards, Poster pack and Active Teach for IWB.
The Student Books are colorful and very easy to use. The very first page is an Evaluation Sheet where students can receive a written comment and rating as they progress through the sections in the book. There is a simple Contents page, followed by a more detailed Syllabus page. The Syllabus sets out each unit clearly with the grammar
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Hot Spot 4
Hot Spot 4 is a book for “betweenagers”. Also known as young teenagers, this is a group you might not imagine being overly enthralled at the idea of a day spent learning English. Enter the Hot Spot series. Described as a “communicative course with an accessible grammar syllabus”, Hot Spot aims to appeal to these particular youth via lessons heavy on visual images and concise, punchy units.
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Super Simple ABCs
Super Simple Phonics is a course designed for teaching the sounds of English to very young learners, in order to prepare them for reading in English.
The aim of the course according to its website is “to instill confidence in young learners by making the alphabet as easy-to-teach and easy-to-learn as possible”. There are plenty of materials in the course to present and practise each letter, including flashcards, songs, games and worksheets. The variety of English used is American English.
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Like many other good young learner courses this book takes us through the basic language you would expect; colours, family, numbers and alphabet, classroom and household vocabulary, prepositions of place, food, animals, clothes, hobbies and sports. The great thing about this is that the pages are so well designed, with the target language foregrounded as colourful illustrations, that the language is really attractive rather than looking like
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Full title: Uncovering CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning in Bilingual and Multilingual Education
Authors: Peeter Mehisto, David Marsh and Maria Jesus Frigols.
Uncovering CLIL appears to be a relatively simple book with a very simple layout at first glance but it is in actual fact rich in content. It is divided into eight chapters in a very logical manner which makes it very easy to navigate and find relevant information. It is written by experienced educators and claims to be a useful guide for not only practising language teachers, but also for pre-service teachers and anyone
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Author: Gordon Lewis
Publisher : Oxford University Press
Components: Teacher’s resource book
The TEFL industry is notoriously slow at adopting new technology. Unless you are lucky enough to work for a company or institution that is profitable and brave enough to make a sizeable investment the chances are that a lot of your lesson preparation is still spent cueing tapes and preparing OHP film. However, as teachers and students become more tech savvy cassette players seem more and more archaic and the attractions of using new technologies grow. The Internet and Young Learners by Gordon Lewis was published in 2004 but I imagine, for the reasons stated above, in a lot of schools it still is not seen as particularly pertinent reading. This is a shame because it is full of excellent ideas and written in a way that even the biggest technophobe would be unlikely to
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Components: Book for teachers
Author: Annamaria Pinter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
This book, Teaching Young Language Learners, immediately caught my attention as I currently teach pre-school to elementary age beginner level children in Japan. But upon reading the introduction, the author, Annamaria Pinter describes that she intends seasoned teachers with an interest in teaching language to children and teacher trainers to get the most out of her book. I, not being a veteran teacher, was initially disappointed by the author’s intention. To my surprise, after closely reading the book, I found the opposite to be true.
Teaching Young Language Learners is organized into compact chapters ranging from “Learning and Development” to “Materials Evaluation and Materials Design”. Within each chapter are sections in bold efficiently detailing major theories and ideas. Complementing the descriptions, pictures and diagrams help the reader grasp the main idea of each passage. Pinter offers input into why
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