Number one for English language teachers

Defining CLIL

There was a lot of discussion about what exactly CLIL is, whether it is different from other approaches such as EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction) or CBI (Content-based Instruction) or CALLA (Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach). One colleague sees CLIL as a special form of TEFL, with the main emphasis being on the language. Another colleagues is equally sure that 'CLIL is of course content-based instruction, which is an area loaded with confusing and overlapping terminology (CLIL, SIOP, ESP, EAP, Sheltered, task-based, immersion, etc.)'. A useful distinction is drawn between 'cross-curricular' language teaching - teaching normal academic subjects in English to non native speakers - and other types of content based teaching where the content is given priority to the linguistic aims. One colleague asks if the time has come to begin labelling parts of the CLIL continuum in order to define more precisely what goes on in the classroom.

Anchor Point:1CLIL is a bandwagon

There is a lack of clarity about what CLIL actually means. It's used as a broad umbrella and this means that many schools, districts and MoEs have seized on this term feeling it will answer various issues such as teacher shortage, integrating English into the curriculum, etc. but without having really thought things through properly.

Anchor Point:2It's been going on for years

One colleague looked back with the suggestion that 'Much of what is going on under the CLIL umbrella has been in existence for donkey's years'. One difference today is the scope and scale of teaching FL-medium subjects. Schools in Hungary and the Czech Republic have, like many other schools in Eastern Europe, been offering some curriculum through foreign languages for a long time. The difference today in Europe is that this form of education has spread beyond an elite small number to a wider state school audience. This is a unique aspect of the 'CLIL' movement which does demand a more precise description of methodology and it is a methodology which is different from foreign language medium subject teaching as we have known it in the past. It may already be happening in some circles, but schools in Eastern Europe where subjects are taught through foreign languages don't spend much, if any, time focusing on language in the 'Physics' lesson. There is an assumption that the students can do the language, before they get into the Physics lesson and the lesson is delivered in the same way it would be delivered in the MT. Now, for the students in less prestigious schools, with less intensive language preparation, with less experienced teachers, and less appropriate resources, there is a need for a clear description of CLIL methodology.

Anchor Point:3CLIL Methodology

This is the methodology which is all about supporting language within context, it's about embedding language within task and it is a methodology which is based on a specific needs analysis of each and every learner in the classroom. It's a methodology based on a Vygotskyan model of constructing ways and means for learners to get from where they are to where they need to be and packages that within an environment of interaction with peers and the teacher. It's about teachers developing skills and knowledge about the language of their subject and techniques for creating task which offers learners access to this language.

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