School staff from across the borough recently visited Tenerife for an intensive week-long language learning course, as part of Hackney Council’s work with the EU-funded Erasmus programme. 

During their time in Spain, Spanish teachers from both local secondary and primary schools were given the opportunity to learn about how the Content and Integrated Language Learning (CLIL) approach can be used to enhance language learning and develop pupils’ thinking skills. 

The CLIL approach centres around teaching subjects and languages simultaneously. For example, other subjects such as geography or physics would be taught through a modern foreign language using this approach. 

Teachers from Stoke Newington School, Haggerston, The Petchey Academy and Skinners’ Academy, joined primary colleagues from St Mary’s, Daubeney, St Monica’s, Queensbridge, Orchard, Kingsmead, Parkwood and Millfields, for a week of seminars and hands-on classroom experience. 

The group were welcomed to the Professional Development Centre in La Laguna, Tenerife, by the Deputy Director of Education of the Canary Island Government, before the week’s activities commenced. The first session, which was delivered by Dr. Kay González-Vilbazo of the University of Illinois in Chicago, focused on innovative approaches to teaching languages, setting the tone for the rest of the week. 

In addition to insightful talks delivered by language experts from across the globe, the group were also able to hear from Canarian teachers about how the CLIL approach is being delivered in their classrooms and observe this first-hand in local schools. 

Each Hackney school was paired with a local Canarian school for the course, and teachers were shown how the use of a radio interview and making of a simple video could transform ordinary listening and speaking activities into something motivating and effective. 

Teachers who participated in the course will be trialing teaching strategies and learning experiences centred around the CLIL approach in the summer school term, which commences in April. 

Raquel Tola Rego, Parkwood Primary School, said: “I have been teaching Art through Spanish in Parkwood but having the time and the input from experts in this Erasmus+ course has really given me ideas about how to develop this further. I am looking forward to working with other Hackney schools to support them in developing a CLIL approach”.

Dawn Alexander-Joseph, Orchard Primary School, said: “It was great to meet the Spanish teachers and to see a variety of CLIL activities in different curriculum areas. Seeing children in the radio studio was amazing. This would be a great motivator for our children.” 

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