EVERYONE IS A GEOGRAPHY TEACHER:
on reasons for Geography and English Integrated Teaching
Secondary School Complex number 10, pl. św. Katarzyny 9, 87 – 100 Toruń, Poland
The article was published in the English Language Teaching magazine The Teacher No 1(45) 2007 www.teacher.pl What is CLIL
Teaching schools subjects in a language other than the mother tongue of the learners is gaining growing interest in Poland and other countries, both in Europe and elsewhere. The language of instruction employed can be German, French or Spanish, but English is the most popular. Additionally, bilingual teaching in the countries of large immigrant populations, many of them English-speaking ones, means this method is of profound importance to teaching English as a second, foreign or other language (TESL/TEFL/other language teaching).
Numerous methods employed for delivering non-linguistic knowledge through the means of a foreign language have developed as concepts within the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), the main goal of which is to facilitate a communicative competence in the learners and their lifelong language learning. They include Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Bilingual Integration of Languages and Disciplines (BILD), Languages Across Curriculum (LAC), Problem Based Teaching, Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) (Chamot and O'Malley, 1994 [in:] Oxford, 2001).
Other methods refer either solely to English as the language of teaching, such as English Across Curriculum (EAC), English as a Medium/Language of Instruction, and Englisch als Arbeitssprache (EaA) (English as a Working Language), or to university teaching aimed at gaining the ability to read and
write scientific papers by studying vocabulary and an academic writing style, such as English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP).
The above-mentioned Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is often achieved by introduction of Content-based Learning or Content-based foreign-language teaching/instruction (CBI). It combines learning the content, i.e. a selected school subject, with language learning. It is already treated by
some methodology papers as a method that can stand alone and is the one expected to gain growing acceptance among foreign-language teachers. In this mode of instruction it is the content which determines the language used and mastered, not the other way round. It is expected that this is the way to motivate the learners to acquire more language.
Content-based foreign-language instruction, a great option to the integrated-skill approach, includes three general models of teaching (Oxford, 2001,
Davies, 2003). A theme-based model integrates the language into studying a carefully selected theme or topic, such as the world terrorism, wild animals or
cultural differences between countries. This kind of content-based language instruction is widely approved and used all over the world, and numerous modern ESL/EFL coursebooks introduce themes to arouse the students’ interest. A theme-based CBI can be taught entirely by an EFL/ESL/other language
teacher or in a team with a content specialist. The teacher, or teachers, can create a course of study based on their own students’ interests.
In an adjunct model of CBI the language course is taught separately from the content course, but they are carefully designed. These classes are
usually taught by ESL/EFL teachers, and they aim at preparing students for ‘mainstream’ classes where they will join native speakers. Adjunct classes may
resemble EAP or ESP classes where target vocabulary is the most important. The course may include specific classes to instruct the learners with the skills necessary for active participation in content-only ‘mainstream’ classes, such as listening and taking notes, as well as skimming and scanning texts. Classes
of that type are often organised during summer holidays before regular college classes, while others are conducted simultaneously with regular lessons.
A sheltered model teaches the content, but the language used is simplified in order to meet the level of students’ language proficiency. Similarly to the adjunct model, the aim of the sheltered model is to enable learners to study the same content material as regular native speaker students. In sheltered CBI students get special assistance to help them understand regular classes. In order to achieve this goal two teachers, i.e. a language specialist and a content specialist, work together to give instruction in a specific subject. They either teach the class together or the time of the lesson is divided between the two of them. For instance, the content teacher might give a lecture on a specific topic, followed by a language teacher who will check whether the listeners have understood the basic elements of the lecture. Such team teaching, however, means the teachers have to co-operate closely to plan and evaluate classes. A
sheltered model of the CBI has proved to be successful at the bilingual University of Ottawa, where the classes are taught in English and French (Briton, 1989 [in:] Davies, 2003).
Content-based foreign-language instruction proves the language is not only an interesting issue for grammarians or linguists, or something compulsorily tested during school exams. The language becomes an important tool of interaction and communication between people. Learning a language in this way makes it more interesting and motivating (Peachey, date unavailable). Fulfilling a real purpose makes students both more independent and more confident. Getting and evaluating information from various sources develops thinking skills, also useful during other school lessons. Group-work or pair-work develops students’ collaborative skills, which are of great social value. The CBI is also useful for the teacher as it makes it possible to observe the development of the students’ language skills. Last but not least, this method enables teachers to teach and students to learn the real content, such as
Geography or History, not just the language forms. There are, of course, potential problems, such as automatic use of the native language during parts of the lesson or difficulties in finding materials for students with lower levels of language proficiency. These drawbacks should not, however, restrain us from integrating language skills in content-based instruction.
Geography is among school subjects most often selected for Content and Language Integrated Learning. Individual reasons may vary from school to school and teacher to teacher. Generally, however, Geography seems a good choice due to the fact that students naturally develop their specific vocabulary skills right from the beginning of foreign language studies. It is enough to look through the list of topics for reading skills in modern textbooks to realise Geography is a never-ending source of themes for theme-based model. The four tables below present Geographical vocabulary found in modern English coursebooks used in Poland at the Intermediate level.
Modern Geographical studies form a system of sciences which have developed from a simple description of places. It is a science which creates a link between natural sciences, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and socio-economic studies, which include philosophy, history, economy, statistics and law. Currently, it comprises physical, socio-economic and regional Geography. Physical Geography examines the spheres of the Earth and the interrelations between them. Socio-economic Geography is the branch which studies human economic activity within the above spheres. Last
but not least, regional Geography deals, as the name clearly indicates, with regions, such as continents, countries or geographical regions. Almost all the
above-mentioned branches of Geographical sciences are represented in English coursebooks.
Table 1. Geographical vocabulary in Headway Intermediate
Earth, gravity, infra-red camera, Lunar module, Moon, NASA, orbit, oxygen, rotation, space, satellite, Spacelab, Elements of astronomy
space settlement, Space Shuttle, sunlight,
bottom of the valley, mountain, summit, valley, Relief
above freezing, below freezing, climate, cloud, cloudy, cold, cold front, degree Celsius, dry, heavy rain, north Climatology (studies atmosphere)
easterly winds, oxygen, rain, summer, snow, sunny, sunshine, temperature, weather, wind, windy, winter,
channels of the rivers, flood, mud, wash out, water cycle, Hydrography (studies hydrosphere)
Kilimanjaro, Geomorphology / Endogenic Volcanism
Geology processes the Himalayas, Orogenesis
(study coast Exogenic Coastal erosion lithosphere) processes desert, Wind erosion
the Atlantic, the British Isles, Corsica, Oceanography (studies oceans)
fertile, rich soil, Pedology (studies soils)
Biogeography Phytogeography (plants) jungle, oak, rain forests,
education, employ, language, made redundant, population, population control, redundancy, thousand million, Population Physical working class, American, British, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Indian, Iranian, Japanese, Lebanese,
Mexican, Russian, Spanish, GEOGRAPHY city, location, town, village, Birmingham, Bristol, Katmandu, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Mexico City, New Settlement
currency, European Commission for Human Rights, European Parliament, nuclear weapon, peace, Socialist Political Social Republic, trade unions,
barley, beef, butter, farmland, fish, grass, green house, lamb, peas, potatoes, produce, rice, spice, wheat, wine, Primary (Agriculture+Forestry+Fishing)
vegetables, wood, Socio-economic
branch, dockyard, export, industry, miner, nuclear power, productivity, shipbuilder, shipyard, (Secondary) Industry
tourism, Tertiray+ Tourism Economic Quaternary (Services+IT) communications industry, jet, plane, train, transport, Transport
Africa, America, Australia, Europe, Continents
Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, People’s
Republic of China, Rhodesia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden Tanzania,, the Sudan, the UK, the United States, Countries
Regional California, England, Scotland, the Amazon jungle, the Himalayas, Regions
east, north, south, south-east, south-west, Geodesy Topography / Cartography
average, per cent, rate, statistical data, statistics, survey, Statistics
become extinct, cut down forests, environmentalist, felling trees, firewood, jungle, tropical rain forests, Sustainable development / environmental protection
Table 2. Geographical vocabulary in Opportunities Intermediate
planet, scientific studies, spring, the South Pole, Elements of astronomy
altitude, below sea level, coast, group of islands, hills, highest peak, island,