Qualified MFL Teacher Status in four years at Aston

teacherFrom next academic year, Aston is offering a new undergraduate programme which combines a BSc in Spanish, French or German with Qualified Teacher Status within four years. After graduation, successful graduates will be able to apply immediately for modern languages teaching positions in secondary schools without undertaking a PGCE. Like all other MFL degrees at Aston, the new programme includes a fully integrated period of study abroad with extensive preparation and support offered by Aston’s award-winning placement team.

To find out more about this exciting new option for MFL students, please click here.



CLIL in HE workshop sparks fascinating discussion between experts, practitioners and newcomers

On June 11, almost 30 delegates from British universities came together at the one-day workshop “Something to talk about: Integrating content and language study in higher education”, organised by Elisabeth Wielander on behalf of the Centre for Language Education Research at Aston (CLERA) and hosted by the School of Languages and Social Science (LSS) at Aston University. The event was funded by the Higher Education Academy as part of the discipline workshop and seminar series, in association with the AHRC.

©Jordina Sala-Branchadell

©Jordina Sala-Branchadell

The aim of the workshop was to disseminate findings from the organiser’s own PhD research, based on results from international research efforts, to outline the possible benefits of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in MFL degrees in UK Higher Education. It provided a platform for sharing practice in subject-specific content teaching through the target language and discussing implications for curriculum design and teacher training.

In the morning session, Elisabeth introduced the participants to CLIL, building on findings from its predecessor, Canadian immersion, and tracing the development of this European form of bilingual education since the term was coined in the mid-1990s. After presenting some European research investigating the gains and losses of content instruction in a second language (L2) as perceived by university students and instructors, Elisabeth then shared some findings of her own PhD research into the use of German as a medium of instruction in UK undergraduate programmes and showed how Aston University is implementing this teaching approach, which has been in use since the 1970s.

After lunch, two colleagues from each of the languages offered at degree level at Aston – French, German and Spanish – talked about their experience with L2 content teaching and shared examples from their teaching practice. The subsequent Q&A discussion raised some intriguing questions regarding the reasons why some universities embrace L2 content teaching, while others remain reluctant.

The Powerpoint presentations and handouts used on the day will shortly be made available on the HEA website and blog.

New: Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice


JPAAP flyer

This was ICLHE 2013: Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education, at Maastricht University


The international conference “Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education” took place at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, on 11-13 April, 2013.

This was the third conference of its kind (after previous events held in 2003 and 2006) and, like its predecessors, it focused on how the integration of specialist content learning and language learning affect universities and other institutes of higher education worldwide.

In the years since the Bologna Declaration of June 1999, there has been a surge in undergraduate and graduate degrees offered in other languages – most notably English but also, if to a lesser degree, other languages. The findings presented at this conference are a reflection of the growing research interest in how the integration of discipline-specific content and (second or foreign) language learning is achieved in practice and what the implementation of ICLHE means in terms of education policy (on the international, national, regional, local and institutional level), theoretical and research frameworks, discipline and language pedagogy, teacher training, and student experience.

The conference brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world whose presentations addressed key themes such as:

  • policy: how local, regional, national and supra-national policies shape the design and implementation of the integration of content and language in higher education.
  • linguistic strains: the impact of the rise of English-medium instruction on the role of other languages and cultures in the higher education landscape
  • content: ICL and the access to content knowledge
  • language: the evolution of language competencies in ICLHE programmes
  • theory: theoretical frameworks for underpinning the integration of content and language

Two fascinating keynote speeches set the tone of the conference:

Cecilia JacobsOn Thursday, Prof Cecilia Jacobs (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) talked about “Mapping the terrains of ICLHE: a view from the south”: After setting the scene by discussing frameworks, key concepts and contextual agendas of ICLHE, she called for the abolishment of what she called ‘the dichotomy of language and culture’; instead, she proposed to put knowledge – and the knower – at the centre of ICL pedagogy.

Francois GrinOn Friday, economist Prof Franҫois Grin (University of Geneva, Switzerland) spoke about “Foreign language skills, ‘linguistic work’ and the economic theorie of value”. First, he discussed the personal, social and national value added by multilingualism based on the example of Switzerland before turning to issues of internationalisation in HE. Specifically, he expressed concern about the unquestioned dominance of certain languages (often English, but not always) as medium of instruction, the possibility of ‘deliberate linguistic imperialism’, and some of the ‘negative value of internationalisation’. In his view, world language governance is needed, and he called for a ‘Linguistic Kyoto’ to be established.

??????????At the conference dinner on Friday, April 12, Prof em. Geerd Hofstede (right), who has a long affiliation with the ICLHE conference series, gave a talk about the “Seven Deadly Sins in a Multicultural World”.

A long list of speakers from Europe and beyond – early-career researchers, practicioners, and leading experts in the field – presented insightful papers about a wide range of issues relating to the integration of content and language at tertiary level. For a full list of abstracts, click here.

CLERA member and postgraduate researcher at Aston, Elisabeth Wielander, presented a paper titled ‘CLIL in UK Higher Education: Converging with and diverging from European models’ (abstract).

And finally, on April 11, 2013, the ICLHE Association was officially founded and its constitutive board elected.

HEA seminar: Mobile Language Learning

HEA logoMobile Language Learning
Thursday 25 April 2013, Manchester

Despite the potential for mobile learning to support, even transform, teaching practice, some educationalists remain sceptical of the benefits of mobile learning in its current form. Kukulska-Hulme (2009), for example, calls for us to give more consideration to ‘how mobility, accompanied by digital, location-aware technologies, changes learning’.

This one-day Blackboard-sponsored seminar will explore mobile learning in the context of foreign language teaching in higher education, providing a forum to:

  • share teaching practice with, and network with, colleagues from a range of institutions teaching and/or supporting foreign languages;
  • meet representatives from Blackboard Mobile, and better understand the ways in which such organisations can support the development of mobile learning;
  • discuss opportunities for, and barriers to, mobile language learning in higher education.

The seminar will be of interest to academic staff, including junior staff and new teachers as well as support staff, especially learning technologists.

Full details, including the final schedule and confirmed venue, will be circulated approximately one week before the event.

There will be a poster session during lunch. If you would like to present your work on mobile language learning during the poster session, please contact James Wilson at the email address below.

To book a place on, or to enquire about, this event please contact James Wilson at j.a.wilson@leeds.ac.uk

Please note that places are limited and early booking is therefore advisable.

Booking now open: CLIL in HE workshop at Aston University

CLIL word cloudSomething to talk about: Integrating content and language study in higher education

  • Date: 11 Jun 2013
  • Start Time: 10:30 am
  • Location/venue: Centre for Language Education Research at Aston (CLERA)

This workshop – organised in association with the Arts & Humanities Research Council – draws on international research to outline the benefits of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in MFL degrees in UK Higher Education. It provides a platform for sharing practice in subject-specific content teaching through the target language and discussing implications for curriculum design and teacher training.

This workshop – one in a series of research-led CPD events run by the Centre of Language Education Research at Aston (CLERA) – provides an opportunity to discuss the potential of CLIL as a pedagogical instrument in UK Higher Education, to share experiences with target-language subject teachers, and to investigate the practical implications of introducing or expanding content provision through a MFL.

In talks and group discussions, the workshop explores the methodological framework of CLIL, benefits of integrating content instruction with language study, and implications regarding curriculum design, teacher training and student support. Aston instructors of French, German and Spanish provide examples of CLIL in practice and present selected materials from their undergraduate modules.

For more information, and to book a place, go to the HEA website.

HIG01S0002_Logo_sector-Art_MV1Aston LSS logo small Clera logo_squareAHRC_portrait

Infographic: Unprepared for post-secondary education

Studies show that many US high school graduates who go on to higher education are unprepared for what is expected of them once they enter college. As many as one in four fail to complete their first year of study. Dropping out of higher education prematurely is not a uniquely US problem, of course. But the rate of students who finish their degrees, or attainment rate, is strikingly lower in the US, with 40%, than in, for example, Canada, with 55.8%, or Japan, with 53.7%. In the UK, it was reported last year that drop-out rates among first year students had soared by 13%.

The following infographic summarizes who is most likely to drop out, and why.

Source: http://www.collegeathome.com/blog/2013/01/17/unprepared-for-college/

Infographic: The Future of US Higher Education

Despite the idea of the ‘ivory tower’, Higher Education is inextricably linked with developments that shape society around it. Predictions about where Higher Education is headed are never easy; here are some possible scenarios:


Source: http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/trends-infographic-the-future-of-higher-education/

CALL FOR PAPERS: The English Language in Teaching in European Higher Education

Copenhagen logo19 – 21 April 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark
organised by the University of Copenhagen

This conference will be the third in a series of conferences of the Leverhulme Trust-funded research network: English in Europe: Opportunity or Threat? The theme of the conference is “The English Language in Teaching in European Higher Education”. The organisers invite papers on all topics relating to this theme. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Ideologies of English in higher education
  • Language policy in higher education
  • English medium instruction in higher education
  • Consequences of English medium instruction for local languages
  • Parallellingualism and multilingualism in higher education
  • English as an academic lingua franca
  • Content and language integrated learning (CLIL)
  • English for academic purposes (EAP)
  • English language testing in higher education

Keynote speakers (confirmed):
Robert Phillipson, Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Francis Hult, Associate Professor, Lund University
Glenn Ole Hellekjær, Associate Professor, University of Oslo

Deadline for abstract submission: 1 January 2013

To learn more, go to the conference website.

Demand for German graduates higher than ever*

UCML logoGood news for language graduates: A report on UK labour market demand for modern language graduates, published by the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML), shows that despite the often-voiced claim that non-European languages such as Arabic and Mandarin Chinese should be given preference when planning foreign language provision in secondary and higher education, the European “Big4″ French, German, Spanish and Italian remain most in demand by employers specifying a language for recruitment: “[The] results show that [non-European languages] are requested in addition to – not instead of – the Western European languages that have been taught for so many years in UK higher education.” (p. 96)

Job adThe report is based on figures collected by analysing postings on major online employment websites, by a survey of recruitment agencies specialising in language recruitment, and through interviews with employers in a variety of sectors. The numbers indicate that German and French are especially desirable due to the UK’s trade relationships with the two language areas. To give an example: Recruitment agencies reported that in the previous 12 months, German was the most requested language, with more than 1,500 jobs requiring German, about 25% of the total (p. 38).

There is clear evidence that employers “view language skills as a strategically important recruitment target for a wide variety of purposes” (p. 45). Unfortunately, a number of interviewees lamented the lack of sufficient language skills among their prospective recruitees from the UK labour force: One respondent said that “[it] used to be very easy to find a German speaker, it’s dried up now and it is increasingly difficult” (p. 48).

The report also clearly shows that, for most employers, UK graduates with language skills have ‘the edge’ over similar candidates without language skills (p. 50), and that employers especially value graduates who combine language skills with joint academic experience, for example in combination with law or finance: “[Studying] a subject at university such as ‘Law and French’ or ‘Economics and German’ puts you ahead because you’ll graduate with a combination of skills that not many other people have.” (Margaret Prythergch, Chief Assessor, Recruitment Strategy Team, Civil Service Capability Group, p. 51).

Discussing future skill needs, the report is quite clear about the significant role of higher education in closing a skills gap caused by a decrease in German uptake post-GCSE and growing pressure on German departments in universities:

“The continued popularity of German with employers based in the UK, and its strategic importance as a language to international institutions, would indicate a potential increase in demand in future, rather than a decrease. The decline in numbers taking German in secondary education and the closure or restructuring of German departments throughout the UK will continue to have a negative impact on the numbers of those who can speak German. As a result, the research would indicate a future widening skills gap that may need to be addressed at higher education level.” (p. 95)

Mulkerne, S. / Graham, A.M. (2011). Labour Market Intelligence on Languages and Intercultural Skills in Higher Education. Southhampton: UCML.

Click here to read the full report.

Go to the UCML homepage for more information on this and related topics.

*Previously posted on Experience German at Aston University blog