Patti Trimborn

is a bilingual education consultant and teacher trainer with many years of teaching experience in bilingual and international schools. Patti has delivered courses for teachers throughout Spain, as well as in the UK. She has taught pre-service CLIL teachers at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas. Patti is currently the Director of English at the International Institute in Madrid.

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Patti, who some of you may have seen at OUP Seminars and other events, is a well known consultant and teacher trainer based in Madrid. Her lively and practical sessions are always welcomed by teachers and for this issue of the magazine she was kind enough to answer some questions for us. In this interview Patti shares her ideas on where education is heading in the next few years, classroom resources she can’t live without and provides us with some useful weblinks and ideas.

How long have you been working in the field of education?
I studied Elementary and Special Education and I have been teaching in one way or another my whole adult life. I’ve taught in language academies, bilingual and international primary schools, and universities.  I’ve also done freelance teacher training. My favorite is still the primary classroom, though.

How do you think education is going to change over the next five years?
I think the bilingual situation is here to stay. People have realized the benefits of it and more and more schools are signing up. I hope that the methodological aspects of CLIL also start to be incorporated into the non-English classroom, as CLIL methodology is helpful for students who have learning difficulties, with immigrant students learning Spanish, and makes for a more communicative classroom in general.

Can you think of anything you ‘can’t live without’ in the classroom?
Storybooks for sure. Whenever I have to do an unexpected substitution, I go straight to the library or to my personal collection to see what story I can use in the lesson. People complain that children don’t read anymore, but I think that is because the adults in their lives don’t read to kids or show them how enjoyable reading is. Everyone loves a good story, and stories teach us about the world, about language, while allowing us to have a good time. If parents and teachers read engaging, rich stories to kids regularly, we wouldn’t have to be concerned with “animación a la lectura,” as kids would already see the value in reading. I also use a lot of music and songs, with children and teachers.

Any favourite webpages you can recommend to us?
There are so many! For songs: They have Teaching Tip videos and Just for Fun videos. They also have a really good blog. That’s where I got all the ideas for a Halloween party I organized recently. I love Peter Weatherall’s channel for math, science and general English songs.

For advice about bilingual education for teachers and parents (in English and Spanish):

Any special activities for the Christmas holidays you’d like to share?
One of my favorite stories to use at Christmas (for older primary or secondary students) is The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. It is a long story, but the language is very simple and the story is easily understood by second language learners. It talks about the very simple theme of selfishness vs. generosity, which I think is important to bring up at a time of year where children are so used to asking for (demanding?) and receiving things. This story can also be connected to a language lesson about writing thank-you letters, or to a unit about trees and things they give us.


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