This is a brief report on the JALT CUE SIG Annual Conference, this year held in Osaka at Kindai University.
Professor Makoto Ikeda (Sophia University) was one of the plenary speakers for this event, and the theme of the conference was on content-focused methodologies.
In the morning on Saturday 24th September 2016, the conference got off to a good start with the first plenary speaker, Professor Laurence Anthony from Waseda University. He discussed the need for content-based approaches that prepare learners to use the vocational language they will need after graduation when leaving education and beginning work. Although Professor Anthony’s main specialization is in ESP, he was optimistic about the potential of CLIL and advocated more content-based teaching in Japanese language education generally.
After the lunch break, Professor Ikeda gave his address, which was entitled “A third revolution in ELT?: CLIL as a methodology for competency-based language education”. He discussed competency-based lesson design and built a case for CLIL in Japan by highlighting first Japan’s generally low English proficiency and the need to improve educational models in order to create engaging and motivating lessons. Expanding on Clark’s (1987) Educational Ideologies in ELT, Professor Ikeda suggested that content-based teaching, especially CLIL, might be a third revolution in ELT. He likened CLIL to a smartphone, arguing that the technology in itself was not new, but the innovative and exciting aspect was the way CLIL combines best practices for language education. In particular, he highlighted that CLIL is well placed to activate schematic links to other skill areas and global competencies. He also talked about how CLIL is a bilingual methodology and then touched upon the issue of translanguaging, arguing again that CLIL fits well with the most current theories on bilingualism and encourages learners to expand their linguistic repertoires rather than being grounded in outdated monolingual approaches.
Overall, the conference was a great success, and the nature of the theme serves to suggest that CLIL is quickly becoming the most exciting development in Foreign Language Education in Japan. We will certainly do what we can to continue promoting CLIL in the Japanese context.