Number one for English language teachers


Café CLIL is an online forum for small group discussion in SKYPE on specific areas of content and language integrated learning.

Café CLIL is an informal way for CLIL professionals to meet and discuss issues of relevance to their work, record the discussion and archive it online for others to access, listen to and comment on.

All the recordings for the discussions can be listened to at FACTWorld.

Discussion 1: Getting started


  • Networking for CLIL seems only to happen in the sphere of ELT.  Why is that?
  • Headhunting CLIL teachers.  Recruiting content teachers working through English. 
  • Some comments on CLIL Teacher Training in Italy and Germany.

Discussion 2: The ideal CLIL teacher profile

  • CLIL teaching should start with the content rather than the language and that the language should come from the content.
  • Multilingualism in Switzerland and how this relates to (and if it actually influences) CLIL
  • What the minimum level of English should be for CLIL teachers.
  • CLIL training should ideally be modular because of great diversity of context and teacher in the CLIL world.
  • Where can teachers actually get language proficiency from?

Discussion 3: CLIL Content Teacher Training


  • Summary of pre-service content teacher training in the countries of participants.
  • Where does the move come from where there is pre-service teacher training for content and language integration?  What makes it happen?  Ideas from Switzerland.
  • Ideas for a programme of content and language teacher training.
  • Some opinions on the IATEFL CLIL Debate - CLIL: Complementing or Compromising English Language Teaching.

Discussion 4: The CLIL Debate: Complementing or Compromising English Language  Teaching?

  • Why are we having this debate? The panel was in broad agreement that the debate about CLIL is going on so strongly in the ELT world where there aren't many, if any, subject teachers, when in reality the discussion needs to be involving just these very subject teachers on all levels (training, materials, language).
  • There is little collaboration between language teachers and subject teachers.
  • There is a great need for training and that training is desperately needed for content CLIL teachers as opposed to language CLIL teachers.
  • In Germany, schools compromise and accept teachers who are not really 'certified' to teach their subject through English. They do this because there is a great demand and a lack of qualified teachers.
  • There is a lot of motivation among students for CLIL. That is students who study their subjects through English are motivated a) by the education and b) by the language development it gives them.

Listen to discussion 4 here.

Discussion 5: Dialogue between language and content


  • There are personal reports back from a number of events including:
    - IATEFL Cardiff CLIL Panel
    - IATEFL Young Learners and Teenagers SIG fielded discussion on CLIL
    - Tri-CLIL Barcelona Conference
    - Meeting CLIL across Contexts: A scaffolding framework for CLIL teacher education
  • There was a discussion with a focus on question forms in the CLIL classroom and a suggestion that a new approach is needed, a hint at avoidance of the display question and a fresh look at scripting for teachers using questions in their classroom.
  • There is also a link with this particular issue and how it relates to teacher training and a suggestion that CLIL training has to go beyond teacher led experiences if it is to be interactive and communicative as we think it should be.

Listen to discussion 5 here.

Discussion 6: Assessment in CLIL

The Cafe CLIL discussion group met recently for a discussion on assessment in CLIL. There were six participants from a range of language and content teaching backgrounds. Questions covered include:

  • What about weak language learners who know the content?
  • Should we test language or content, or both?
  • What is and should be the role of L1?
  • There was broad agreement that time is a big issue
  • There is also an issue of teacher awareness
  • Can we differentiate in content assessment according to language level?

This is a good point to invite all readers to send us their test materials to post here, especially if you feel that they deal with language in a way which respects learner levels, if there is any attention to differentiation in terms of language.

Listen to discussion 6 here

Discussion 7: Using the mother tongue in the CLIL classroom


  • The speakers in the discussion each gave their standpoint on this issue and the discussion ended with a collection of principles.
  • It was agreed that L1 use may be necessary and essential at times, and that the teacher's role is identifying and deciding where and when it is appropriate.
  • Research suggests that use of L1 decreases with the increasing L2 competence of the teacher and that the more competent the teacher is in L2, the more they expect L2 from the students.
  • There was a suggestion that L1 use is a question of strategy and that teachers can plan to support L2 language in the same way that they plan to teach their curriculum.
  • There was agreement that the aims of the lesson should lead the language use (L1 and L2).

Listen to discussion 7 here.

Discussion 8: Reading in CLIL

The Café CLIL group discuss textbook reading material from Science this month.

  • There are ideas to help teachers and learners who have a lot of reading to do in their (FL-medium) content textbooks.
  • The group give specific steps and guidelines for dealing with text and there are suggestions for tasks.
  • The discussion also highlights places to look for further ideas and resources.
  • The message to publishers is clear - more reading skills development for CLIL please!

Listen to discussion 8 here.

Discussion 9: Supporting talk in content subjects


The theme for this Café CLIL was on 'talking' and some of the main issues covered included:

  • Textbooks don't encourage talking in the classroom. Imported content often doesn't 'translate' into the local language or the local methodology.
  • Teachers don't encourage talking in the classroom. There is an issue in much CLIL that teachersthemselves often lack confidence in their own language abilities.
  • Mother tongueuse may be an essential step to independent L2 talk.
  • All teachers are language teachersbut it may take training for teachers to become aware of it.
  • A number of simple ways of creating talk in the classroomwere given.
  • The discussion ended with a suggestion that'communication in the curriculum' would be a good focus for an EU project.

Listen to the discussion 9 here.


Discussion 10: CLIL suggests an integration of subject and language - How can we get teachers collaborating?

The Café CLIL group talks about collaboration between language and subject teachers.

  • CLIL in Italy is predominantly collaboration between subject and language teachers but is dying out.
  • The Akademisches Gymnasium in Innsbruck offers an example where language and subject teachers meet in a CLIL group on a regular basis.
  • Project work can be a stimulus for collaboration between teachers, but this kind of collaboration rarely lives beyond the project.
  • 'It's a characteristic of CLIL that the language of subject teachers is regularly made a focus for criticism, while language teachers are encouraged to teach subject material even though it is taught at a low level'.

Listen to discussion 10 here.

Discussion 11: The language of content - Chemistry Topic (Acid rain)

Café CLIL talks about the specific language demands of chemistry.

  • It’s important to determine the origin of materials as those written by native speakers are clearly going to be from a different learning culture than those written by non-native speakers.
  • Visual presentation highlights the principle of using diagrams for content language learning.
  • Native speaker materials are potentially heavy in new terminology for learners.
  • Types of language were identified from specific chemistry materials including stages and degrees of acidification; function of 'cause and effect' in reading text; diagram with sequencing phrases in the process of acid rain formation; language needed for expressing chemical formulae in full.

 Listen to discussion 11 here.


Discussion 12: The language of Mathematics - Averages

The Café CLIL group talks about the language demands of Mathematics.

  • One of the problems with Maths is that a lot of the language is not visible on the page.
  • There is a great need for full contextualization of the dense content of textbook materials.
  • Students need to hear and to tell maths stories.
  • Students need time to translate.
  • Interaction in the subject can create opportunities for language practice.

Listen to discussion 12 here.

Have your say

You might find topics which catch your attention, which wind you up the wrong way or inspire you to react with a supporting comment.  Either way, we'd love to hear what you think.  You can post your comments here and they will be picked up on in further discussion at some point in Café CLIL.

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