But the instruction was clear, right?

May 15, 2023


The instruction was clear, right?

So why are the students coming up with answers that have nothing to do with the task?

Has it happened to you that you thought you explained something really well, in a step-by-step way, basically foul-proof.. only for students to go in a completely different direction?

I know it happened to me. And not just during teaching, but also during training sessions with teachers.

An activity I often do during training sessions is “describe in 15 words or less”, to get teachers to produce language output on a topic and think about the language they use.

There is almost always at least one person with more than 15 words.

And I was sure the instruction was clear…

Activities don’t always work for teachers

During the training sessions I host teachers always have to share what they are going to do with the activities I mentioned.

Often I am surprised by their take on the activity. 

They might use it during a different lesson stage, or adapt it altogether.

There was a time I might get a little confused about this.

But I have learned since that an activity is so much more than just a set of instructions.

Just like any message, it is not just the text.

There is also the tone. The personality of the teacher.

This might sound a little bit vague, so let me explain.

Three reasons why some activities work and others don’t

If I would do a maths explanation and my colleague next door would explain exactly the same topic, it is very unlikely the students will hear exactly the same thing word for word.

Because we as teachers are different. 

Because we might focus on slightly different things. 

Because the way we communicate is different.

And that is all perfectly fine.

This also applies to implementing CLIL activities.

I personally really like the “Alphabet” activity, but others might find this to be too much of a ‘fun’ activity.

Again: totally fine.

CLIL activities are not meant to be read out loud, without any emotion or connection to what is happening in class.

CLIL ideas, activities and tasks are part of a teacher’s toolkit. And any teacher has their own preferences and ideas.

In a great blog post by Tom Sherrington (Technique, personality and values), he shares some reasons this might be the case:

  1. Personality. Every teacher has their own approach and preferences when it comes to classroom activities

  2. Technical issues. Some activities require some prerequisites not always available for everyone.

  3. Values. The activities and concepts should fit the way think education is most effective.

I am not saying you should never try out new things.

I am saying you shouldn’t compare yourself too much with others.

Find what works. Find what works for you. Find what works for you now.

How to get activities to work for you

One way you could go about that is to read some CLIL books and try out various activities to see what does and does not work.

Another way could be to skip this time-consuming way of going about it and tap into my experience to find activities that do work.

That is what the CLIL implementation calls are for.

During monthly, live calls you can share what activity you would like to try and I’ll help you come up with ways to implement this in your lesson

Or you can share what you want students to learn and I’ll come up with some ideas to do this in a CLIL way

Looking forward to helping you out!

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