Issues Ideas Educ.

Implementation of Content and Language Integrated Learning at Schools in Latvia

Indra Karapetjana And Gunta Roziņa

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  • DOI Number
    https://doi.org/10.15415/iie.2017.52011
KEYWORDS

multilingualism; CLIL; Bilingual education; Case study; Latvia

PUBLISHED DATE November 2017
PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access at www.chitkara.edu.in/publications
ABSTRACT

The European Union supports multilingualism and promotes the learning of foreign languages since their knowledge enhances understanding among peoples and increases employability. To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of foreign language education in schools, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) has been promoted in Europe; this has influenced ways in which Latvia nowadays approaches bilingual education. A qualitative case study was undertaken to explore the implementation of CLIL at schools in Latvia, CLIL being seen as an element of bilingual education. This article outlines the development of CLIL in Latvia, which is largely embedded in national level policies which have a substantial effect on the development of bilingual education and CLIL. It also clarifies the aims of this educational approach in the context of the present education challenges and assesses its potential in Latvia. It can be observed that education policies in Latvia not only aim at strengthening the ethnic minority learners’ knowledge of Latvian, but also at changing from the focus on second and foreign language learning outcomes to the emphasis on an integrated view on the development of language and non-linguistic subject content.

INTRODUCTION

In Latvia, the Content and Language Integrated Learning (henceforth CLIL) has been known since the late 90s of the 20th century [1]. For a long time, it was mostly associated with bilingual education, which was implemented in ethnic minority schools in the context of heterogeneous national environment when organizing simultaneously the educational process in the learners’ mother tongue and the state official language - Latvian, gradually increasing the proportion of the latter [2]. However, bilingual education was not restricted to ethnic minority school curricula, as the schools in Latvia were allowed to include bilingual subjects in their curriculum, that is, one or several subjects were taught in a language other than the language of instruction, for example, English. This type of schooling was seen as an effective means of developing proficiency in languages.

Today, bilingual education in Latvia is understood as learning in a language other than a mother tongue, integrating the acquisition of the non-linguistic academic content and a language. As of 2010, CLIL methodology is referred not only to ethnic minority education, where the Latvian language is used as a second language to learn academic content, but also to schools with Latvian as a language of instruction [1].Currently, bilingual education still remains a more widely used and understood term than the acronym CLIL.

This article uses CLIL and bilingual educational interchangeably, and it has chosen the definition given in a document published by the Eurydice European Unit as its working definition: ‘CLIL is used as a generic term to describe all types of provision in which a second language (a foreign, regional or minority language and/or another official state language) is used to teach certain subjects in the curriculum other than language lessons themselves’ [3].

Using the case study, the present enquiry has undertaken to explore the implementation of CLIL at schools in Latvia by systematically collecting and analysing relevant literature and documents. It aims at (1) placing CLIL in a historical context to elucidate the state-of-the-art development of CLIL in Latvia, (2) clarifying the aims of CLIL in Latvia in the context of the present education challenges, (3) assessing the potential of CLIL in Latvia.

Page(s) 175-184
URL http://dspace.chitkara.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/1/908/2/52011_IIE_Indra%20karapetjana.pdf
ISSN Print : 2320-7655, Online : 2320-8805
DOI https://doi.org/10.15415/iie.2017.52011
CONCLUSION

In Latvia, CLIL is considered to be a form of bilingual education where an additional language is used as the language of instruction in non-linguistic school subjects. To summarize, the forms of bilingual education in Latvia are (1) ethnic minority school programmes; (2) ethnic majority school programmes (traditionally schools specializing in English, German or French) where some subjects (e.g. geography and social sciences) are taught in foreign languages; (3) International Baccalaureate Diploma Programmes; (4) extra-curricular educational programmes (modules or projects). The role of foreign languages has acquired a broader meaning – apart from being an instrument for communication, they have become a means of acquiring non-linguistic subject content. This view is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism from its inception at the end of the 20th century in Latvia. If initially bilingual education or the CLIL approach was understood and implemented as a way of studying a subject in a second or foreign language, then nowadays Latvia has adopted the view that CLIL teaching combines subject teaching with the developing of language skills, that is, the emphasis is being put on an integrated view on the development of language and nonlinguistic subject content.

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