“A great deal, or nothing much" is being said about CLIL in Portugal depending on which perspective you are talking from, according to our experienced partners in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal that we met during our mobility in the Erasmus+ European funded project “Abordări inovatoare ale activităţii instituţionale”, 14th-25th November 2016. Under the coordination of Mobility Friends Association that “Zinca Golescu” High School had previously signed a contract with, two decision-making teachers in our institution, that is, Aida Grecu - English teacher, head of the English and German department as well as Daniela Luta-Informatics teacher, deputy manager, participated in a job shadowing activity meant to give them an insight into CLIL approach in Portugal, share topic-related experience, good practice examples in the Portuguese educational system.
Despite the fact that no official provision is made for CLIL in the national curriculum, CLIL is not totally unknown in Portugal. Indeed, experiments in this area are under way in the private and state schools. There are no official programmes or syllabus implemented in public schools. They are either projects or extra-curricular activities, which is the case in the school where we job shadowed some CLIL lessons. Depending on schools’ autonomy, it is up to them to decide whether or not to introduce CLIL type provision. Within the limits imposed by the national curriculum, every school may freely organise and administer its teaching and learning activity in accordance with the Act on the Education System. This can lead to the development of a unique curriculum with local and regional components. In other words, the way is clear for the introduction of CLIL.
The truth is that the International Schools have always used this methodology and have also taken English as the base language. In Portugal, there are also two or three universities where some subjects are taught entirely in English for the Post-graduate and Masters programmes respectively, in recent years. Here, the professors are brought in from England, Canada or the United States to teach. There are also the English schools where all subjects are taught in English whereas in autonomous public schools carrying out CLIL projects, the need arises for having two teachers in the class to make it work: one for content and one for language. There is some interest in post-graduate areas and whenever there is some type of congress or training course. There are some institutions, either private or public that practice CLIL, but this is in the form referred to as "soft CLIL".
The Portuguese educational system has two mandatory foreign languages at primary level and one mandatory foreign language at secondary level. In 2005, the Portuguese government took the initiative and implemented English as an extra-curricular subject in public schools for the 3rd and 4th grades. It was not mandatory and parents could choose to enroll their children or not but the school was required to offer the subject. This has caused mixed levels and abilities in the 5th grade where English is mandatory. This year, the extra-curricular English language is offered in the 1st and 2nd grades. This has caused problems with recruiting English teachers as there is a shortage plus the fact that being extra-curricular, these teachers are paid lower salaries than others, thus the lack of motivation of teaching English and consequently the interest in implementing CLIL.
In Portugal presently, CLIL is not a priority item on the government's agenda. Its priority is to provide the native language at a national level to increase the level of literacy of the Portuguese people in relation to the rest of Europe. Another is to increase the offer of Portuguese to foreigners. The Portuguese Association for English teachers has been fighting to have good, qualified teachers, especially for the 3rd and 4th grades to have equal levels before embarking onto the 5th grade; maybe CLIL through English will be a reality all over Portugal soon as it is a desirable end in itself.
Prof. Grecu Aida Mihaela
Colegiul Tehnic “Armand Călinescu”, Pitești
(Postat decembrie 2016)