Academic journal article Babel

CLIL in Queensland: The Evolution of 'Immersion'

Academic journal article Babel

CLIL in Queensland: The Evolution of 'Immersion'

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Queensland second language Immersion programs have been In existence for three decades, and are part of a growing numbe of additive bilingual education programs In Australia. Most prominently, many new Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) programs have been established particularly in Victoria over the past few years. This focus on intensive language learning programs which integrate mainstream curriculum in subjects such as science or history with language learning is a welcome development for the languages sector in Australia. This paper offers insights into the Queensland context and presents interview data from program directors and teachers who reflected on teaching approaches and program structures. The teacher positions suggest that elements of CLIL have been part of Queensland immersion programs from their inception, and that 'immersion' alone might be a misleading description. The findings reveal a sustained focus on integrating 'language work' into all aspects of subject delivery, and therefore support the re-conceptualisation of these program: as CLIL/Immersion

KEY WORDS

CLIL, Content and Language Integrated Learning, Immersion, additive bilingual education, teaching approaches, language teachers, Queensland, 4Cs Framework, Language Triptych.

Introduction

In the Australian state of Queensland, a form of modern languages 'Immersion' program has long been established. The Idea was loosely copied from the well-known French Immersion programs In Canada, and was Introduced to a school in the Gold Coast area of Queensland by an Australian teacher of French In 1985. Since then, a number of programs have been established. This article first records the development of these programs, and then engages In an analysis of their teaching methodologies. The article develops the argument that Queensland Immersion programs, even from their Inception In the 1980s, bore stronger traces of Content and Language Integrated Learning, or CLIL, methodologies than of methodologies used In the French Immersion context In Canada. As Cross (2014) writes In a recent Babel Issue, 'Across Australian education systems there Is considerable variability In the terms used to describe approaches and programs that have a curriculum-based focus. It Is helpful to be explicit about where and how CLIL might sit alongside these' (p. 7). For that reason, the article uses the term 'CLIL/Immersion' programs from now, to acknowledge that 'Immersion' alone might be a misleading description for the Queensland context.

CLIL/Immersion In Queensland can be defined as an approach that usually teaches three mainstream subjects, such as science, social science and maths, through the medium of a second language from years 7-10, mainly In state high schools with small Immersion programs that feature one, sometimes two classes per year level. It Is conceptualised around teaching a complete subject area such as science In a language medium other than English for several years during high school (usually Year 7 to Year 10). The CLIL/Immersion subject areas are not repeated In English, nor are the subject topics delivered as part of language studies. Instead, the actual Australian Curriculum requirements for science (as an example) are delivered only through the medium of the second language. CLIL/Immersion In Queensland secondary schools is delivered by subject-specific teachers only; teachers are qualified science, history or maths (and other subjects) teachers and use the additional language as the medium of Instruction--they are not necessarily trained and qualified In language teaching methodology (although some have this double qualification).

Students for these CLIL/Immersion programs are often recruited from feeder schools which might or might not teach the same language as Is used for the high school program. Parents with native or background/heritage language proficiency also often seek out the CLIL/Immersion programs as language maintenance and language transfer opportunities for their children. …

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