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★ Science taken to its best!

Scientific skills through cognitive and communicative learning & practice.

ELT and ESL classrooms have been the nursery to approaches such as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), for example, which has embraced the track to bilingual education by thoroughly making ELT, ESL and other subject-content teachers who speak English responsible for a whole new world in education moving inside out classroom walls. In that sense, schools face the need for materials and professionals that enable learners’ development in some subjects in the additional language: English. Research shows that when learning other subjects in English, students do improve their use of the language by communicating in enriched and more academic language and by developing more and more cognitive skills – such as comparing, contrasting, analyzing L1 and L2 and deciding which language to use in each situation, for instance.

That said, such materials and professionals need to follow some educational key principles for the full development of learners: activation of their prior knowledge; rich contextualization of themes by the use of visible markers such as graphic organizers, glossaries, pictograms; promotion of ICT literacy; encouragement of learners’ independence; offer of real life situations which promote socialization – team work, resilience, leadership, negotiation skills and problem solving. Moreover, meaningful learning happens when there is room for enquiry, data collection, analysis, discussion, experimentation, educated decision making and presentation of results in appropriate genre.

In addition, there are some skills that need follow-up and practice activities for learners to improve linguistically (from BICS – basic interpersonal communication skills – to CALP – cognitive academic language proficiency) as well: extensive and intensive reading, writing processes, specific content vocabulary use – making glossaries, translanguaging – and necessary structural practice.

When we use the CLIL approach, we understand that there are different possibilities for classes regarding hour loads and number of subjects taught in the target language, namely: soft or hard CLIL. On one hand, soft CLIL happens when there is a good number of classes within the ELT scenario, which allow the teacher to develop contentbased classes in English, having language still as the main target; on the other, hard CLIL means to offer some of the core subjects using the additional language as medium of instruction. In the second case, learners still learn a lot of language, but the focus is the content itself.

If one narrows learning down to the area of Science in L2, there are six process skills that have to be developed in order for learners to scientifically succeed: observing, classifying, measuring, communicating, inferring and predicting. Besides, becoming global competent and aware of the importance of each one’s actions to the environment and life around the world are two other relevant goals of these programs.

Cambridge University Press has been actively developing programs in which teachers and learners can progress from where they really are towards full development as global citizens in a multifaceted world where being multilingual has become a must. There are two Cambridge University Press programs in Science that are great examples of all the features we have discussed above: Cambridge Science Skills and Cambridge Primary Science.

Cambridge Science Skills is a 6-level enquiry-based approach course through which students can practise their English, broaden their vocabulary, and develop thinking and language skills. It’s student-centered, ensures an active classroom experience and allows the children to work alone or collaboratively on projects, investigations and experiments. The material facilitates the teaching practice of ELT teachers responsible for the introduction of specific subject content in the soft CLIL scenario. Cambridge Primary Science is also meant to first years of schooling, but it responds to a different demand: it fully covers the Cambridge Primary Science curriculum framework and can be used to prepare learners for the Cambridge Primary Checkpoint, which means learners progress in a hard CLIL/immersion environment. The course offers plenty of teaching ideas to give flexibility, allowing teachers to select activities most appropriate to their classroom and pupils. It is also enquiry-based style, with the Scientific Enquiry objectives integrated throughout to encourage learning of these skills alongside the scientific concepts. Language learning is promoted with concepts illustrated through diagrams to allow visual understanding and learning.

Both programs feature all the most modern tendencies in education and focus on quality learning with visible results, gradually built from very clearly stated expected learning outcomes. Developing skills from prior knowledge and fostering curiosity to discover from thinking more deeply about different topics, both Cambridge Science Skills and Cambridge Primary Science bring children to other communicative and cognitive levels: their confidence grows by exposure to scientific enquiry, key contextualized scientific goals, vocabulary and life concepts. Parents and teachers are also very well supported in order to follow up learners’ growth and consolidation of knowledge.

As to the structure of the materials, units provide the needed routine for the younger learner as well as modelling and varied offer of exercises that go from general to personalized demands and great suggestions for developing projects systematically. There is good use of visuals – pictures, tables, bar charts, pictograms, Venn diagrams – both to introduce topics and to teach learners how to show and analyze data, build relations, demonstrate conclusions. The integration of skills run naturally in a balanced PPP (presentation-practice-production) plan and there is room for varied interaction patterns. There is great integration of teacher’s guidance, students’ practice and use of WB activities. The readings bring topics that raise scientific awareness from the very beginning and exercises demand from lower to higher order thinking skills and the language level rises steadily from BICS to CALP. On top of all that, learners have a lot of writing skills input throughout the programs by having to write reports and result analysis; speaking is strongly developed, too, and presentation skills are learned from a very young age, preparing students to face all the world demands in their lifetime. 

Suggestions

CAMBRIDGE PRIMARY SCIENCE STAGE 1 

Cambridge Primary Science is a flexible, engaging course written specifically for the Cambridge Primary Science curriculum framework.

CAMBRIDGE PRIMARY SCIENCE STAGE 2 

Cambridge Primary Science is a flexible, engaging course written specifically for the Cambridge Primary Science curriculum framework. This Teacher´s Resource for Stage 2 contains guidance on all components in the series. Select activities and exercises to suit your teaching style and your learners´ abilities from the wide range of ideas presented. Guidance includes suggestions for differentiation and assessment, and supplementing your teaching with resources available online, to help tailor your scheme of work according to your needs. Answers to questions from the Learner´s Book and Activity Book are also included. The material is presented in editable format on CD-ROM, as well as in print, to give you the opportunity to adapt it to your needs.

CAMBRIDGE SCIENCE SKILLS LEVEL 1 

Cambridge Science Skills is a dynamic new skills course through which students can practise their English, broaden their vocabulary, and improve their language skills. An enquiry-based approach to learning aids in the development of thinking skills; student-centred learning ensures an active classroom experience and allows the children to work alone or collaboratively on projects, investigations and experiments. It is ideal supplementary material to be used alongside Cambridge ELT textbooks.

CAMBRIDGE SCIENCE SKILLS LEVEL 2 

Cambridge Science Skills is a dynamic new skills course through which students can practise their English, broaden their vocabulary, and improve their language skills. An enquiry-based approach to learning aids in the development of thinking skills; student-centred learning ensures an active classroom experience and allows the children to work alone or collaboratively on projects, investigations and experiments. It is ideal supplementary material to be used alongside Cambridge ELT textbooks.

CAMBRIDGE SCIENCE SKILLS LEVEL 3 

Cambridge Science Skills is a dynamic new skills course through which students can practise their English, broaden their vocabulary, and improve their language skills. An enquiry-based approach to learning aids in the development of thinking skills; student-centred learning ensures an active classroom experience and allows the children to work alone or collaboratively on projects, investigations and experiments. It is ideal supplementary material to be used alongside Cambridge ELT textbooks.

The author

MONICA HERMINI DE CAMARGO 

holds a PhD in English Literature from Universidade de São Paulo. Having a 35-year career in ELT, she is also course books author and specialist in Educational Psychology, School Management and Pedagogical Coordination. At present, CLIL and bilingual education have been her main interest areas at academic research and teacher training programs.

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