Edited By Christiane Dalton-Puffer and Ute Smit
Barbara Buchholz - Reframing young learners' classroom discourse structure as a preliminary requirement for a CLIL-based ELT approach 51
Reframing young learners' classroom discourse structure as a preliminary requirement for a CLIL-based EL T approach. An action research project on conversational language learning for primary students Barbara Buchholz Children naturally use their mother tongue with any other person who knows it. When children find themselves in the company of others, particularly their peers, who speak other languages [ ... ] then they will make an effort to understand and use the new language. (Brumfit eta/. 1991:130) 1. Introduction Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is often regarded as "not feasible" for primary students, whereas the fact is that CLIL is not feasible for (most) primary teachers. As we can see from results in bilingual classes that are taught by native speaking teachers, children cope with foreign language requirements much more readily than their German speaking Austrian teachers do. Such examples give evidence that young learners are able to acquire basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS, see below) in an immersion-type context. However, a preliminary condition for launching a CLIL programme at primary level is to establish explicit connections with the didactic principles of the primary school curriculum, both on the level of monolingual and cross-sectional English language teaching (ELT). Among the basic tenets of these principles is that learning and teaching a foreign language happens through applying it: "English through English" (Willis 1993), thus implying a communicative approach, based on English classroom discourse1 and peer conversation. Given this underlying principle of communicativeness it appears ap- propriate to integrate the notions of basic...
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