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Pilar Gerns, ICS researcher, stays in Oporto to study the challenges of bilingual Education at international level

/ ICS researcher Pilar Gerns (third from right) at a meeting of the research team at network COST in Vienna. To her right, Professor Maria Ellison.

09 | 02 | 2024

Postdoctoral researcher, Pilar Gerns, from group 'Public discourse' of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra, has completed a research stay under the direction of Professor Maria Ellison, at the School of Letters of the University of Porto from January 2023 to January 2024. Her goal has been to analyze and promote various teaching practices and methodologies for bilingual teaching in Europe, focusing on approach Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). This method involves teaching content subjects, such as History or Biology, through a second language, such as English.

During his research stay, Gerns has collaborated closely with the department of programs of study Anglo-American School of Letters of the University of Porto, and with research center WORKING CLIL, associated with the Centre for English, Translation, and Anglo-Portuguese Studies (CETAPS). At this center, she has worked with Andrew Sampson, Carlos Lindade, Margarida Morgado, Margarida Coelho and Maria Ellison, coordinator of COST-CA21114 in Portugal (a European interdisciplinary network of research involving several experts in bilingual teaching ).

During these months, Pilar has been able to carry out a study in several public secondary schools Education in Porto, conducting visits and interviews with teachers. For this work, she received a scholarship Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) from COST (E-COST-GRANT-CA21114-3dbe748d).

After analyzing the status of bilingualism in Porto for several months and considering the need of academic staff to improve its teaching methodologies with CLIL, an official course specially focused on this aspect was approved and taught by Gerns. Thanks to the success of the first edition, the participants requested a second edition, which has been supported by the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR). Gerns values the experience very positively, as "it offers a very good opportunity to put on internship the ICS motto, which is to respond to the demands of society with our research and contribute to its improvement".

The stay also allowed him to work as team member Organizer of the third international congress Moving CLIL forward: towards sustainable educational practices, held at the University of Porto in July 2023, where he presented the workshop Enabling secondary teachers to become efficient CLIL material designers, moderated some of the papers and reviewed articles in the e-journal of Teacher Education and Applied Language Studies. She also presented a paper at the congress international conference on academic literacies in multilingual contexts in Bilbao.

On the other hand, she has coordinated an e-Twinning project together with the researchers Franziska Gerwers and Lisa Brinkmann of the University of Hamburg (A critical perspective of school systems and educational proposals for improvement" - 10.000), which has allowed the exchange between students of the Master's Degree of academic staff of Philology Hispánica of the German university and those of the Master's Degree in academic staff (MUP) of the University of Navarra. The results have been presented at the 30th congress of Didactics of Foreign Languages of the German Society DGFF in Freiburg and at a roundtable on training and innovation in education (Forinnova lite) organized by the USC.

The stay has provided the opportunity to establish a connection between the University of Navarra, the University of Porto and the research center CETAPS , who will continue to collaborate within the framework of the project COST CLILNetLE. It has also led to a possible partnership between ICS, the Johannes Gutenberg University (Germany) and the European Center for Modern Languages (ECML).