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Expert in the spotlight in November 2012, Peeter Mehisto

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Peeter Mehisto has researched factors contributing to successful CLIL programme development, as well as potential barriers to the implementation of CLIL initiatives. Peeter Mehisto is the author of several textbooks, trainer of teachers and administrators, CLIL programme initiator and manager, as well as former CLIL educator. He has taught at the elementary, secondary and university levels and is the winner of several awards in education.
He has extensive experience working with teachers in the classroom to support the implementation of best practice in CLIL methodology. He has also worked on the development of CLIL training materials, a major CLIL-related website, parent and other public relations materials and a handbook for teachers and administrators of immersion programmes. Peeter Mehisto is a frequent presenter at CLIL conferences.

Face to face with Peeter Mehisto

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/ education/ multilingualism?

I have taught at the primary, secondary and university levels. One of the seminal experiences in my professional life involved working with a broad range of national and international stakeholders to develop a voluntary Estonian language immersion programme in Estonia's Russian-medium schools. It included among other initiatives generating planning instruments, building teacher-training programmes, managing public relations and creating learning materials.

Through the University of London, I have researched factors contributing to successful bilingual programme development, as well as potential barriers to their implementation. I have also advised on the development of multilingual programmes in several European and Asian countries. In addition, I have had a particular interest in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), and am the lead author of an award-winning book on the subject.  

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

Multilingual education always operates in a complex world of personal beliefs, assumptions, competing priorities and agendas. As the complexities of implementing multilingual programmes originate to a large extent in the multiple perceptions, understandings and actions of stakeholders, it is particularly important for those wishing to develop these programmes to build their capacity to lead stakeholder learning and cooperation. This involves understanding, synthesising and navigating the diversity and commonalities inherent in individual views, procedures, organisations and systems at large while being able to influence and support stakeholder learning and co-constructed change at all those levels.
Ultimately, I believe that the language learning world needs to become more effective at drawing on the knowledge base developed in the fields of management and leadership.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

I have had the privilege of recently working as an independent consultant with Cambridge International Examinations and the Autonomous Educational Organisation, Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (AEO-NIS) in Kazakhstan. AEO-NIS is working in a highly systematic manner to establish a network of trilingual schools where Kazakh, Russian and English are used as media of instruction. 

AEO-NIS supports schools: by organising professional development for teachers and managers/leaders; by developing curricula and learning materials; by commissioning independent research into student achievement and programme management; by creating fora for discussion; by developing public information materials; and, by managing knowledge from the entire programme development process.

To achieve its goals AEO-NIS has been working with numerous Kazakh and international partners. International partners include Cambridge University, John Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University and Cito.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

Candelier et al. (2010) have produced a framework (Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages) that atomises the knowledge, skills and attitudes of someone who takes a pluralistic approach to learning about and navigating languages and cultures. This includes engaging in intercultural communication. By better understanding the competences we strive for, it should be possible to develop education programmes in a more targeted and nuanced manner. 

FREPA/CARAP Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages and Cultures

I have recently completed writing a new book entitled Excellence in Bilingual Education: A Guide for School Principals. It is a practical guide for school principals who wish to establish or improve an existing bilingual programme. It is published by Cambridge University Press. 

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More publications:

Uncovering CLIL / Peeter Mehisto, Maria-Jesus Frigola and David Marsch. – MacMillan, 2008. - isbn 9780230027190

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