An Integrated Approach to Content and Language Study: Citizenship Development and Society Building
I have been developing a university study programme that uses English as foreign-additional-other (FAO) vehicular language. My aim has been to connect confidence and competence building with (1) sociological knowledge engagement, inquisitiveness, and re-construction and (2) the nurturing of civic awareness citizenship building of classroom society as citizenship and wider society building which relates to the everyday concerns of myself and students.
Given the many constraints blocking the implementation of an institutional CLIL, a more effective way and means of promoting integrated study at KGU and Sociology is to initially develop, in individual classes and classrooms, and on an experimental basis, language-content-citizenship study integration. This, when bringing positive results e.g. greater motivation for FAO language learning, and greater enthusiasm to study academic content in two languages, might in time lead to greater adoption of CLIL across the mainstream curriculum.
Student feedback and evaluations of my teaching and our study of the CLIL approach seems to confirm that students find structures such as groups formed with sociologists’ names, weekly review of study using reflection notes, and democratic voting on the evolution of study and the curriculum very helpful in sensitizing them to how sociology relates to their personal everyday lives, and how both language development and sociology learning contribute to greater awareness of civic-mindedness.
The empowering possibilities of university CLIL can lead teachers and students to cooperatively develop a communication vocabulary that gives classroom activities a greater sense of immediacy. This vocabulary is set up and maintained so that the teacher and students recognize that their use of language/communication, integrated with engagement in knowing (more) about the social world inside class, is as useful outside class.
1. Introduction: Forces that can drive university CLIL in Japan
In the past three years, I have been developing an English-medium university study programme with English as a foreign-additional-other (FAO) language. The study programme connects language confidence and competence building with (1) sociological knowledge engagement, inquisitiveness, and re-construction and (2) the nurturing of a civic awareness citizenship building of classroom society as citizenship and society building that relates to the everyday concerns of myself and students in our study of Sociology at Kwansei Gakuin (KGU).
The primary aim of this CLIL approach is to create - in negotiation and dialogic discussion activity with students – social study structures that direct us towards a more socially accountable learning. What is most important is for us to affirm (1) how we value our personal and communal relationship to each other and to our study, and (2) how we value not only what we study, but more importantly, how we study. How do we, for example, together raise issues of concern, organize time and study, make study decisions, and plan ahead after reflecting on previous study?
From results of student survey feedback on my lectures in class, and outside class readings related directly to classroom study in a recently completed fall term of classes in Sociology, I found that this approach had been of benefit to students. In the most recently completed term in which this CLIL approach was employed, spring 2008 from April to July, I experimented with setting up a study management framework, with increased emphasis on developing democracy and more inclusive student participation. Student feedback again confirmed the benefits of this approach.
The FAO language part of the KGU-Sociology curriculum is one ideal area to implement politically, socially, and culturally sensitive citizenship development university CLIL. Bollinger, Nainby, and Warren (2003) perceive a conceptual bridge between contemporary communication theory and critical educational practice. At present there exist, they argue, conceptually two separate worlds.There is, they maintain, difference between the linguistic world of signifiers and the world of “things” such as mental experiences, sensations, ideas, concepts, or signifieds.
One world is the world people communicate with or the entire set of, for example, symbols, sounds, gestures, and pictures people use to communicate. The second world is the world people talk about, the many content areas that move people to communicate with one another. Bollinger et al. believe teachers must work with students to rethink and interrogate how and why we constitute the world as we do. The representational two - worlds model, which has communication learning distinct from knowledge and content acquisition and understanding, fails to account for what they see as the complexity of the lived experiences of people in class where the focus of study and learning remains on systemic meanings not minute communicative acts.
Banks (1991) argues that knowledge and skills are not neutral. He says that an important purpose of each is to help people improve society – for example, hold onto or restore worthwhile traditional socio-cultural values. A “transformative” curriculum depends less on content or the skills taught than the willingness and efforts of teachers with students to examine their personal political, social, and cultural values and how these values impact on their developing identities. Building and nurturing democratic citizenship in class begins with students and I together agreeing to discuss topics that affect our personal/academic lives on a daily basis in class and outside class.
The classroom micro-society raises four citizenship development issues:
- What are our individual and collective social study communication responsibilities?
- What rules, laws, regulations, and social study structures can we agree to make and abide by?
- What about decision-making and representation and redress (of grievances)?
- What cognitive and affective study dispositions are we to value and promote in our class society?
In section II I will describe the teaching and learning situation at KGU and Sociology, and review problems in planning and implementing a systemic institutional-wide CLIL at KGU and Sociology.
2. The language-content situation at Kwansei Gakuin University and
Sociology: problems in conceiving and practicing CLIL
I first pose four questions about the KGU-Sociology situation:
- Does Kwansei Gakuin (KG) have a policy or plan relating to the teaching and learning languages to all undergraduates?
- Are there any structures in place at KG or within Sociology that allow for discussion, planning, and/or policy making with regard to the teaching and learning of languages?
- Which (if any) structures exist at institutional level for the coordination of language teaching?
- Are there any teaching/learning procedures at KG or in Sociology designed to support and encourage language learning (e.g. exchange programs, teaching a subject through an FAO non-L1 language, credits for language courses incorporated into degrees, self-access facilities)?
The simple answer to the first question above is that there is no clearly stated policy relating to teaching and learning of FAO languages. Regarding questions two and three, the visible structures in place that allow for discussion, planning, or language teaching/ learning policy-making are located in the centralized and autonomous Language Center (LC) where study and learning remains fixed and fixated on acquiring knowledge of languages and skills in using languages but for no obvious or specific purposes.
Structural connections between the LC and each of the nine specialty-area content departments – Sociology, Economics, Business Administration, Humanities, Human Welfare, Law, Theology, Policy Studies, Science and Information Technology - are FAO Language Education Committees (EEC) – each consisting of administrative and teaching members of the LC, and one representative FAO language faculty member. Two KGU departments have opted for not to send a representative to the FAO language EEC and neither assume complete responsibility for FAO language education within the department nor do they require students to take a second FAO language in addition to English.
I have served as a member of the LC English Education Committee a number of times. Discussion and planning for FAO English language teaching/learning that takes place in that Committee and related structural bodies chiefly concerns curriculum administered directly by the LC which prioritizes non-integrated language-content language study and has no formal connections with specialty-area study. Other FAO language discussion and planning committees (e.g. German, French, Chinese, and Korean) exist but they too focus primarily if not exclusively on LC-administered study.
Aside from a teaching training section that is administered in conjunction with the LC, and which trains undergraduates to be certified as language teachers, there are no support mechanisms for integrating FAO language and specialty-area content study. There are a great number of overseas exchange programs at KG, which stress language and culture learning not specialty-area content learning using an FAO language such as English. These overseas programs include a Sophomore in English program where a select number of students can take general education courses (in English) and receive limited general education only credit. To my knowledge there are no structures in place which support work placement overseas or in companies in Japan that specifically require clearly stated competence in using an FAO language.
The absence of FAO English language-content integration at KGU is due to a variety of reasons, as reported in Brady (2008) which I will reiterate. According to Hyde (2002), Japanese teachers and learners may perceive the FAO English language taught in school harmful for the proficiency in Japanese and/or the development of the Japanese identity. Many Japanese, Hyde feels, do not view English as a communication system, but see it as inert knowledge to pass university entrance exams and to be forgotten, or to be used for emblem, sorting, and certification as McVeigh (2002) argues.
McVeigh has observed that Japan-appropriated uses of English are veiled by public pronouncements for the need to teach genuine language and language use, though it is not made clear what the content base of that use should or could be. Ambivalence to actual communicative, as opposed to certification, appropriation, or emblematic, uses of English exists at KGU and the department of Sociology. KGU and Sociology also typify, according to Loveday’s typology of language communities (1996), a non-bilingual setting where members of the (KGU) community are academically monolingual and/or socially bilingual or multilingual. This kind of community, Loveday argues, has no social or other requirement for the acquisition or use of the language.
A major obstacle to integrated FAO study at KGU and Sociology is that there is ambiguity and ambivalence regarding the reasons university students ought to study (in) an FAO language, and particularly English. Another major obstacle to integrated FAO English language education is a failure of KGU and Sociology faculty to value language study as an integral part of the total curriculum provision, as universities should according to Chastain (1980). Chastain argues that in many institutions language education is considered a hurdle to fulfilling graduation requirements, being locked into an isolated compartmental and marginalized area of less important general, as opposed to more important specialized, study. This is sadly the case at KG and Sociology.
Perhaps the most difficult hurdle to any integrated FAO language and content curriculum concerns academic socio-cultural issues (Brady, 2000). In English education a new paradigm built on integrated structures and practices can conflict with prevalent university academic professional culture, which according to Bernstein (1971) values collectionism, and faculty autonomy and freedom within very strict boundaries of professional academic thinking, practice, and behaviour. According to Bernstein ‘Courses which promote integrated learning can weaken separated hierarchies of collection, and also alter the balance of power, where the entire structure and distribution of power has been determined according to a hierarchical and/or collection code of thinking and conduct’. (l971: 62),
Given the many constraints blocking the implementation of institutional CLIL, a more effective way and means of promoting integration at KGU and Sociology, in my estimation, is from the bottom up. That is to develop, in individual classes and classrooms on an experimental basis, language-content-citizenship integration where any positive results such as greater motivation for FAO language learning, and greater enthusiasm to study academic content in two languages might in time lead to greater adoption of CLIL across the mainstream curriculum. In section III I will describe the implementation of an experimental and experiential citizenship development CLIL at KGU and Sociology.
3. From conception to practice: a CLIL citizenship development
Useful and necessary life survival civic dispositions that can be developed in a citizenship development university CLIL are:
- being observant/attentive, taking note(s), and being aware of one’s surroundings and of others,
- making important decisions and plans,
- making judgments and discriminating among alternatives,
- organizing, e.g. time and study,
- inquiring when you don’t know; asking questions for more information and for clarification,
- guessing and hypothesizing,
- arguing and persuading,
- reflecting, re-evaluating,
- making proposals,
- seeing and solving problems.
Dialogic rule-making to develop civic responsibility study dispositions in class begins with a structural reorientation of learning away from a non-consultative authoritarian pedagogical approach that banks knowledge and/or certifies person to have properly learned an inert body of knowledge or technical skill(s). The key components of a more consultative and democratic dialogic rule-making are:
- the valuing and promoting of inquisitiveness and hypothesis, and emotional as well as cognitive intelligence,
- the valuing of language and communication being individually and socially responsible and accountable, where a person’s language and communication is always a “work in progress,”
- the valuing of and commitment to a full power-sharing relationship of teaching and learning which does not justify teacher or institutional control over students or their study,
- the valuing of and commitment to using the lived experiences and life stories teacher and students bring to class as the basis for civic responsibility and sociology learning.
First class and on going study in classes I teach at KGU begins with and continually focuses on sharing understandings of the following features:
- our responsibilities to, and expectations of, self and each other,
- our shared enthusiasm and negotiated agreement of sociology content to study using students’ L1 – principally when they talk with one another – and the FAO English language – principally in public whole-class communication,
- respecting self and caring for others using, at first, three FAO English language songs and three social hero stories to show the importance of our knowing and feeling about social justice, marginality, individual and social concerns and interests,
- meaningful dialogue in class – e.g. students with me, students with each other in chosen groups having sociological names – and our jointly making decisions on all important curriculum matters such as how study evolves, out-of-class assignments, and testing.
The CLIL framework that I have developed and am attempting to put into practice aims to involve students not only to participate in the planning and practice of their curriculum, but to take control of their study and learning.
McKinney (2007) argues that it is necessary for teachers and students to be more attentive not only to what they study (knowledge) or the skills they need to utilize to enhance knowledge learning. Teachers and students must McKinney (2007) argues, hone in on how they study and how they value what and how they study through shared dialogue.
From the initial list of topics given out to students in the first class we begin our study of society, culture, and sociology using English as the agreed-on public language of communication, and either English or Japanese as the language that students can use among themselves in groups. Groups are formed with the name of a prominent sociologist that gives each an identity. We enter the world of society-culture and sociology study by first looking at how we will create and nurture a negotiated study society in class.
The student feedback and student evaluations of my teaching and our study, the CLIL approach put forth in this paper, seem to confirm the following findings:
- Students realize that language is not learned compartmentally nor is it separate from either a content base, such as sociology, or the development of “people in society” citizenship responsibilities,
- Students find the integrated approach useful in developing their language competence and confidence to discuss sociology and practice citizenship responsibilities,
- Students find that structures such as groups formed with sociologists’ names, weekly review of study using reflection notes, and democratic voting on the evolution of study and the curriculum very helpful in sensitizing them to how sociology relates to their personal everyday lives, and how both language development and sociology learning contribute to greater awareness of civic-mindedness.
As Koliba (2000), Berman (1997), and Ehman (1980) all maintain, the content of teaching and study is not as critical as the way(s) in which teachers teach and interact with students that determines a closed or open classroom environment.
Conclusion: the benefits of a phronetic, democratic, one-world ontological vision and practice of university CLIL
Flyvbjerg (2001) argues for a focus on a phronetc, as opposed to an episteme or techne, approach to social research, an approach which places values over and above knowledge acquisition or skills’ building. Flyvbjerg poses four value-rational questions that a social scientist must be concerned with when investigating social phenomena:
1. Where are we going?
2. Who gains and loses and by which mechanisms of power?
3. Is the direction in which we are going desirable?
4. What should be done (if the direction in which we are going is not desirable)?
Splitter (1995) argues that schools continue to be agents of manipulation and preservers/protectors of the status quo rather than facilitators for personal enrichment and liberation. Splitter believes teachers need to recognize that in the real world outside the classroom “thinking among ordinary citizens may be more of a threat than a priority” (1995: 1). Splitter advocates a Philosophy for Children to guide educators in their teaching of better thinking to include;
- argumentation skills,
- inquisitive skills, especially searching for reasons and not accepting what is given,
- identification, modification, and application of criteria to form judgments, and make decisions,
- the ability to identify relationships to help us make sense of things (e.g. (cause(s) and effects, means and ends, parts and wholes),
- the exercise of moral imagination where we think of different ways of proceeding and also represent to ourselves and others alternative moral/ethical positions and world views.
Employing integrated FAO English language and widely conceived academic content study at university satisfies a number of important higher educational objectives. First, integrated study can help establish a new approach towards the purpose of (English) language study in Japan. This approach would recognize language study not as primarily study of the language as an object, but as study that also involves knowledge engagement or human development.
Secondly, integrated study can provide a more clear direction for a communication language study approach by specifying the base of that study and the one-world ontological connections between communication and worldly knowledge.
Thirdly, integrated FAO English language and knowledge-content study can give more coherence and cohesion to both general and specialized education, and can in time serve as an impetus for a more connected role and responsibility of general and special education across the entire curriculum first proposed by the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monkasho) in 1991.
A CLIL one-world ontology emphasizes the immediacy and the material force of communication. Communication is, the element binding language and content where any judgment about the immediate impact of, for example offensive or divisive talk or content assessment is not suspended until later when the material inequities such speech may perpetuate or ensure can be evaluated. (Bollinger et al. 2003: 201).
The framing of communication about the world to some future end has communication, and thus language itself, depending on material states or affairs, which is an instrumental or technical tool model of communication.
Communication itself forms the substance and sustenance of our lives unifying us and the world we inhabit. Communication in a one-world ontology is not simply a means to achieve human world-shaping. Communication about the world is as meaningful as, or perhaps more so than, the world we communicate about (the content) The goal of a citizenship development CLIL is to re-specify the character of communication where the centrality of day-to-day speech acts is itself an important subject matter of scholarly and pedagogical work and practice. A one-world ontology stresses the unity of social meaning and social reality.
The empowering possibilities of university CLIL in Japan are that teachers and students can together develop one-world communication-knowledge vocabulary, in the process of exploring sociological knowledge through language - that gives classroom activities a greater sense of immediacy. This vocabulary is established and maintained so that students recognize that their use of language/communication, integrated with engagement in knowing (more) about the social world inside class, is as useful outside class. Some necessary ingredients of this ontological vocabulary are inquiry and hypothesis, enduring curiosity about the world using Flyvbjerg’s four value-laden questions to guide teaching, learning, and research, and Splitter’s Philosophy for Children to guide discussion and interaction.
Banks, J.: 1991. A curriculum for empowerment, action, and change. In C. Sleeter, (ed.), Empowerment through Multicultural Education, pp. 125-142. SUNY Press: Albany, NY.
Berman, S.: 1997, Children’s Social Consciousness and the Development of Social Responsibility. State University of New York Press: Albany, NY.
Bernstein, B.: 1971, On the classification and framing of educational knowledge. In M. F. D. Young (ed.) Knowledge and Control. Collier-McMillan: London.
Bollinger, C., Nainby, K., and Warren, J.: 2003, Articulating Contact in the Classroom: Towards a Constitutive Focus in Critical Pedagogy. Language and Intercultural Communication 3, 3: 198-212.
Brady, A.: 2008, Developing a civic education vision and practice for foreign-additional-other (FAO) language and content integration in higher education. In B. Wilkinson and V. Zegers (eds.) Realizing Content and Language Integration in Higher Education, pp. 96-109. Retrieved at http://www.unimaas.nl/iclhe/
Brady, A.: 2000, The Integration of English Language Study in the Mainstream University Curriculum in Japan: a case study. PhD dissertation (unpublished) completed at Lancaster University (UK), November, 2000.
Chastain, K.: 1980, Toward a Philosophy of Second Language Learning and Teaching. Heinle and Heinle: Boston
Ehman, L. H.:1980, The American School in the Political Socialization Process. Review of Educational Research 50, 1: 99-119.
Flyvbjerg, B.: 2001, Making Social Science Matter: why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Koliba, C.: 2000, Democracy and Education, Schools and Communities Initiative: Conceptual Framework and Preliminary Findings. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Loveday, L.J.: 1996, Language Contact in Japan. Clarendon Press: Oxford.
McKinney, K.: 2007, The Student Voice: Sociology Majors Tell Us About Learning Sociology. Teaching Sociology 35, 112-124.
McVeigh, B.: 2002, Japanese Higher Education as Myth. M. E. Sharpe: New York and London.
Splitter, L. J.: 1995, On the theme of “Teaching for Higher Order Skills.” Retrieved May 25, 2004, from: http://www.Shss.Montclair.edu/inquiry/summ95/splitter.html