Friday, February 3, 2012

"CALL" , "CLIL", "TEL" : the key words of the week

This week I have been struggling to find  ways to integrate  CALL, CLIL and TEL into my teaching without having any of them outweighing the others but all working in harmony so that learners have the optimal educational, technological and language learning. Most of all, I wished to conceive an approach that could strenghten my students autonomy and enhanve their motivation for learning. But what do these abbreviations stand for?

CALL, to start with, stands for computer assisted language learning, CLIL stands for content and language integrated learning and TEL for technology enhanced learning. Viewing each approach in the light of the Greek education reality, I can't help but consider the existing pitfalls for both teachers and students. Suppose a language teacher is computer literate, which is not always the case with Greek teachers, are there the necessary facilities  in their teaching settings so that they can put their knowledge into practice? I am afraid not. Most state schools have nothing more but a computer lab equipped with old computers, some of which are out of order, slow internet connection and in addition to that a not at all flexible timetable which makes the use of the lab by the language teachers hardly feasible. On the other hand, and from the students' point of view, they cannot imagine in what way they can use a computer to meet any learning  needs in the framework of the various subjects they have at school. This is due to the fact that each subject is seen as a distinct, separate learning area and none of the subjects are taught with the project-based method. All the knowledge they are expected to acquire is by default hidden in the books they are given the content of which is interrelated with the content of the educational syllabus. 

Coming to CLIL, to my knowledge, it has not been implemented systematically in my country and a possible reason can be the homogeneity of the language spoken, which is Greek. If it were to be tried out as a method, it would not serve the purposes of enhancing the language competence of people who come of a bilingual family background or live in a country with two official languages. In our case, I regard this approach as a key to increasing motivation for learning a foreign language and improving the insight to both the foreign language and other content areas.

From an economic and social standpoint, the above mentioned approaches seem to be too much of a luxury, since especially this year and for the years to come, the schools are going to be all the more under-funded and families do not seem to be able to afford any update of their technological equipment. 

Under these circumstances, I am to conceive a plan of how I could possibly overcome these difficulties and have my students take advantage of the benefits of these methods and not let them fall behind compared to more economically developed countries. I hope I will come back with a suggestion soon.



  1. I can only sympathize with you and the situation you describe, Marina.
    Our countries are undergoing serious hardships and changes (Greece probably even more than Portugal) and the economic situation will not improve soon. School budgets are getting thinner and thinner and all the cuts in salaries won't allow families to invest in technology or better education. Teachers will also have less money and less incentives to invest in their own formation and professional development. It's not easy to find a way to use technology to enhance our students' learning. We will probably be forced into something simple, but that doesn't mean it won't be as important and effective as some state-of-the-art projects. A simple project can have a surprising outcome. Let's hope that will be the case!

  2. Once in Spain for a study visit program, I met a teacher from Portugal and we were discussing issues like teacher salaries, working hours, etc. That was 4 years ago, and I now recall that in Portugal things were more difficult than in Greece then and I couldn't imagine then that in my country things would take such a terrible turn!

    You are right, Luisa, simple advances, but advances. No regression, right?