Lucky Language Clover/alx

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Lucky Language Clover
Contributors Christian Köppe, Mariëlle Nijsten
Last modification June 5, 2017
Source Köppe and Nijsten (2012)[1][2][3]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

Also Known As: The Four Skills (The Four Skills).

You are thinking about the tasks you want to include in the course design and want to ensure that they also cover the Content-Obligatory Language (Content-Obligatory Language) and the Content-Compatible Language (Content-Compatible Language) aspects appropriately.


Exposing the students to language comprehension only — reading and listening — is not sufficient for creating a lasting effect in learning the foreign language. They might be able to understand content input, but unable to produce content output in the foreign language.

Usage motivation. Even if a foreign language as medium of content instruction is used, some students will stick to their mother tongue and therefore will not improve their foreign language production skills. This is especially the case if they miss intrinsic motivation or if some students in the class are giving answers much more often than others.

Potential Hubris. Many students think that they master a foreign language quite well because they can read and understand the foreign language. These students often fail when it comes to speaking and writing.


Therefore: Promote reading and listening, and let students write and speak in the foreign language as well. Include all four types of linguistic competences in your course design.

Learning a language requires mastery of all types of linguistic competences: reading, listening, writing, and speaking — the four leaves of the Lucky Language Clover (Lucky Language Clover). This is referred to as exposure to input or comprehension (i.e., reading and writing) and so-called pushed output or production (i.e., writing and speaking). But language input does not always lead to language intake. It is by actively using the language input in stimulating assignments that help students grasp its actual meaning, the input is actually stored in students’ long term memory. So just giving lectures in the foreign language and requiring the students to read literature in the foreign language is not sufficient. Courses must allow for students to write and speak in the foreign language as well, as this promotes learning content and language at the same time[4]. According to Mehisto et al., a special focus should be put on speaking[5]. Producing output requires students to use their passive knowledge of the language to make themselves understood. Thus, their mastery of this language is enhanced[6].

Exercises, assignments, and didactics should therefore take all four leaves of the Lucky Language Clover (Lucky Language Clover) into account. This could be achieved through the use of a variety of pedagogical patterns, e.g. Prefer Writing (Prefer Writing), Peer Feedback (Peer Feedback) [7], and many others. Swain suggests a collaborative form of writing, as this implies the need for talking about the content[8] and therefore also promotes the use of Metatalk (Metatalk).

Implementing Lucky Language Clover (Lucky Language Clover) requires a careful selection of exercises, which are also aligned with the course material and should therefore be taken into account during the Input Selection (Input Selection). Coonan showed that Groups Work (Groups Work)[7] leads to a much higher oral output than a classical teacher-led lesson[9]. If Lucky Language Clover (Lucky Language Clover) will be applied in teacher-led lessons, then an extended focus should be put on the questions asked during the lesson, e.g. by applying Carefully Crafted Questions (Carefully Crafted Questions)[10], which obliges the students to elaborate their responses more richly[9].

Another important aspect is that not all students make use of the opportunity to speak, most often we see a small group of students which answers most of the questions. The teacher has to ensure that the oral participation is spread over all students equally if possible in order to increase the language learning effect for the whole group. The patterns Groups Work (Groups Work) in combination with {[Patternlink|Shot Gun Seminar}}[7] can help hereby. This also requires an atmosphere where students dare to speak, another important aspect the teacher has to take care of. It helps to explain in the beginning of a course that the most important aspect is to use the language and to make oneself understood by the others, not a correct usage of the language. This will lower the participation barrier.

But even in groups work do not all students automatically make use of the opportunity to speak[9]. They are pedagogical patterns which help to increase the participation of all students, like Think.. Pair.. Share (Think.. Pair.. Share)[10] or Student Design Sprint (Student Design Sprint)[7].

Another question which needs to be addressed when applying this pattern is whether the use of the native language is permitted at all and if so, under which circumstances. Mehisto et al. suggest that especially when the students are exposed for the first time to content being taught in a foreign language they also should be allowed to use their native language when necessary [5]. This should only be seen as bridging technique and the students should always be encouraged to use the foreign language as much as possible. It has to be clear that using the language at all is more important than using it 100% correctly.

The students in a course on Model Driven Development at the Hogeschool Utrecht had to work on a longer lasting assignment which included a Model-to-Text transformation implemented in a tool new to the students. After the first week all student groups (mostly 2 students) had to prepare and give a presentation about one of the problems they encountered during the first week of the assignment. This included therefore writing (the content of the presentation) and speaking (discussing the content and giving the presentation).

An earlier version of another course at the Hogeschool Utrecht on Patterns & Frameworks which was given in English was based on classical lectures, exposing the students to reading and listening only. In a newer version of this course the Lucky Language Clover (Lucky Language Clover) was implemented by having the students regularly give presentations on different topics, e.g. as part of the implementation of Discover Your Own Pattern (Discover Your Own Pattern)[11]. They were also given an assignment which included answering a few questions about two articles in English. A survey taken at the end of the course showed that their ability and self-consciousness regarding speaking and writing improved remarkably


  1. Pattern first published in Köppe, C., & Nijsten, M. (2012). A pattern language for teaching in a foreign language: part 1. In Proceedings of the 17th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2012) (p. 10). New York:ACM.
  2. Patlet mentioned in Köppe, C., & Nijsten, M. (2012). A pattern language for teaching in a foreign language: part 2. In Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2012). New York:ACM.
  3. Patlet also mentioned in Köppe, C., & Nijsten, M. (2012). Towards a Pattern Language for Teaching in a Foreign Language. In Proceedings of the VikingPLoP 2012 conference. Saariselkä, Finland.
  4. De Graaff, R., Koopman, G. J., & Westhoff, G. (2007). Identifying effective L2 pedagogy in content and language integrated learning. Vienna English Working Papers 16,3, 12–19.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mehisto, P., Marsh, D., & Frigols, M. J. (2008). Uncovering CLIL: Content and language integrated learning in bilingual and multilingual education. Macmillan.
  6. Westhoff, G. J. (2008). Een'schijf van vijf'voor het vreemdetalenonderwijs (revisited). NaB-MVT.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Bergin, J., Eckstein, J., Völter, M., Sipos, M., Wallingford, E., Marquardt, K., Chandler, J., Sharp, H., and Manns, M.L. (2012). Pedagogical patterns: advice for educators. Joseph Bergin Software Tools.
  8. Swain, M. (2001). Integrating language and content teaching through collaborative tasks. Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(1), 44-63.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Coonan, C. M. (2009). The foreign language in the CLIL lesson: Problems and implications. Studi di glottodidattica, 2(4), 22-52.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Larson, K. A., Trees, F. P., & Weaver, D. S. (2008). Continuous feedback pedagogical patterns. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2008) (p. 12). New York:ACM.
  11. Köppe, C. (2012). A pattern language for teaching design patterns (part 1). In Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2011) (p. 2). New York:ACM.