This article considers problematic aspects of the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) approach to the teaching of historical subjects in a foreign language. Specifically, the teaching of history of the Mediterranean region in a monolingual class of learners of Italian as foreign language is examined as a case study.
The main lexical areas developed during four years of bachelor studies in Italian philology are compared with the main lexical competences actually required in the Lithuanian job market for translators specialized in Italian language. The incongruences between the competences required by employers and those developed at university constitute the base for a discussion about the validity of several CLIL precepts.
Firstly, the CLIL principle that the content (the subject) should always determine the teacher’s lexical choices, and generally, the teaching language, is challenged. As an example, the teaching of history in Italian would impose the use of passato remoto tense, which in the job market seems to be almost unnecessary. Secondly, the author challenges the idea that the list of topics should be determined independently from other factors such as the type of audience. On the contrary, a preliminary evaluation of student’s prior knowledge permits to define topics capable of stimulating certain cognitive and communicative abilities coherently with the requirements of the job market.
In the conclusions, the author claims the whole four-years study curriculum should be considered in order to define the aims of a CLIL course. Secondly, in a monolingual class, a survey of student’s prior knowledge is fundamental to determine the series of topics presented in a CLIL module. Finally, it does not seem necessarily true, that the subjects discussed must determine the register and lexical choices of the teacher.
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