Drawing on the ‘4Cs' of CLIL, the fourth article in the series of Language for CLIL looks at the importance of culture and its role in the CLIL curriculum.

CLIL is referred to as having ‘4Cs’: content, communication, cognition and culture (Coyle, 1999). This can be a helpful description because the integration of content, communication, cognition and culture is one way to look at the aims of CLIL. The fourth C, culture, can also describe citizenship or community. Whether describing culture, citizenship or community, the fourth ‘C’ has an important role in the CLIL curriculum and one that can be developed in all curricular subjects.

Learning about culture

Learning about culture, the original description of the fourth ‘C’, implies far more than, for example, comparing recipes from different countries (although this may be a relevant activity in some CLIL contexts). Learning about culture implies understanding ourselves and our actions in relation to those from other cultures. As many schools have learners from diverse cultural and social backgrounds, it is important that teachers take opportunities to notice difference and to think of how to raise awareness of cultural difference so that learners have positive attitudes towards diversity.

Global citizens

When the fourth ‘C’ implies community or citizenship as a principle, then learners need to be aware of their roles and responsibilities within their school, within their local area, their country and nowadays, and also as global citizens. Beyond the classroom, there are many subject topics which encourage thinking about learners’ responsibilities both to the local environment, such as developing school gardens and considering where to place recycling bins, and to global projects, which may involve partnership schools in other countries or continents.

Cultural awareness

CLIL develops cultural awareness in the home culture as well as in the culture of the target language. For many learners, this may be a third or fourth language and culture. The European Commission defined cultural competence as:
having knowledge of different cultures
being able to relate to different cultures
acting in a culturally appropriately way
being tolerant of other cultures

The fourth ‘C’ in the TKT: CLIL

In TKT: CLIL, knowledge of the fourth ‘C’ is tested in Part 1, the aims and rationale for CLIL, but it may also be tested in Part 2, for example, in a task based on a lesson plan about citizenship. Both teachers and learners need to show evidence of inter-cultural understanding as they teach or learn curricular subjects in English.

For more information about the TKT: CLIL visit the Cambridge ESOL TKT: CLIL website.