CLIL involves students learning subjects such as science or geography through the medium of a foreign language. Other related terms include ‘Content-based instruction', ‘English across the curriculum', and ‘Bilingual education'. CLIL is sometimes referred to as dual-focused education as lessons have two main aims, one related to a particular subject or topic and one linked to language.
For a list of key terms in CLIL go to: http://www.clilcompendium.com/keyterms.htm
An increasing number of teachers and schools are introducing CLIL initiatives throughout the world. It is, for example, being applied in a growing number of countries in the expanding European Union. CLIL has been introduced in diverse contexts at both the primary and secondary level.
According to Do Coyle, an effective CLIL lesson combines elements of:
* Content - Progression in knowledge, skills and understanding related to specific elements of a defined curriculum
* Communication - Using language to learn whilst learning to use language
* Cognition - Developing thinking skills which link concept formation (abstract and concrete), understanding and language
* Culture - Exposure to alternative perspectives and shared understandings, which deepen awareness of otherness and self.
The perceived advantages of adopting a CLIL approach for learners include:
* Increasing motivation as language is used to fulfil real purposes
* Introducing learners to the wider cultural context
* Developing a positive ‘can do' attitude towards learning languages
* Developing student multilingual interests and attitudes
* Preparing students for further studies and work
Some of the advantages for teachers adopting a CLIL approach may include:
* The use of innovative methods, materials and e-learning
* Individual and institutional networking oppportunities and professional mobility
* The development of good practices through cooperation with teachers in other departments, schools and countries
* Higher levels of job satisfaction
For many teachers CLIL offers a number of challenges as it requires a rethink of the traditional skills and knowledge of the language teacher, classroom practices and resources. Some educational reformers may underestimate the difficulties involved in implementing CLIL, and may introduce innovations without ensuring that all of the necessary resources are in place. For example, teachers might not have a language level appropriate to the demands of the content. Teachers might not receive the necessary re-training to carry out their revised roles effectively and suitable classroom resources may not be available in all subjects at all levels. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the twin trends of europeanisation and globalisation are likely to lead to CLIL becoming a growing component of educational systems throughout the world.