By the University of Malta Team
The SeLFiE project involves the development of a pedagogical model which integrates in an innovative way the acquisition of a second language (L2) through the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) approach with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education to promote student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking. Since the start of this project in 2020, a team of academics and experienced teachers from across Europe (https://project-selfie.eu/ ) worked relentlessly to create a sustainable, practical and evidence-based pedagogical model that can easily be used and adapted by teachers working in diverse classrooms in different European countries.
One of the project outputs is the SeLFiE Toolkit, available in English, Spanish and French. This Toolkit serves as a resource to inspire and increase the awareness of how STEAM education may be integrated with second language learning through active pedagogies, thus, broadening the pedagogical repertoire for educators. The Toolkit thus provides teachers in preschool and primary schools with the theoretical framework underpinning the SeLFiE pedagogical model as well as provides practical examples of good practice to support teaching in the implementation of the model within their regular classroom learning. Using an informal style of writing, the toolkit provides an overview of the main elements that comprise the SeLFiE model, that is, STEAM, CLIL and active pedagogies, embracing storytelling as one possible mode of representation or ‘connecting thread’ to realise in practice the SeLFiE approach. This section also includes guidelines with respect to the use of digital technologies to enhance the teaching and learning processes. Several aspects of the pedagogical model are presented to illustrate how active pedagogies such as Project-Based Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning can promote the integration of STEAM and L2. There is also an emphasis on the inclusive element of these pedagogies, where differentiation becomes embedded in the development of meaningful learning experiences or activities that engage learners of all different abilities and interests to their full potential.
The second part of the toolkit shows how the model’s theoretical framework can be put into practice. It provides examples of best practices in the fields of second-language learning and STEAM at the European level which illustrate how the SeLFiE pedagogy can be achieved with early and primary level children. These examples of good practice were selected from already existing practices using specific criteria to ensure that as many aspects of the chosen approaches to the integration of STEAM and L2 were embedded in each one. Every example presents basic information about the origin of the project or activity, the target age and group of learners. It also explains how principles of STEAM and L2 were implemented through the use of creative and active pedagogies such as project-based learning, the use of stories or the arts, and technology and engineering design method (TEDM) for instance.
Engagement in the teaching and learning process, motivation to teach/ learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics through the arts, and the promotion of second and/or foreign language acquisition through authentic learning experiences are the ultimate goals of the toolkit. Through the careful description of how to adopt innovative and active pedagogies in early and primary school settings, the boundaries between key areas of learning become blurred and hopefully, teachers will be inspired to collaborate with other teachers within and outside their grade/ school to create such authentic learning. Ultimately, it is hoped that the toolkit encourages educators to broaden their pedagogical repertoire as they explore and give life to the SeLFiE pedagogical model within their classroom to meet the needs of all learners within diverse contexts and cultures.