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Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) involves teaching a curricular

subject through the medium of a language other than that normally used. The subject
can be entirely unrelated to language learning, such as history lessons being taught in
English in a school in Spain. CLIL is taking place and has been found to be effective
in all sectors of education from primary through to adult and higher education. Its
success has been growing over the past 10 years and continues to do so.
Teachers working with CLIL are specialists in their own discipline rather than
traditional language teachers. They are usually fluent speakers of the target language,
bilingual or native speakers. In many institutions language teachers work in
partnership with other departments to offer CLIL in various subjects. The key issue is
that the learner is gaining new knowledge about the 'non-language' subject while
encountering, using and learning the foreign language. The methodologies and
approaches used are often linked to the subject area with the content leading the
activities.
Benefits of CLIL
CLIL's multi-faceted approach can offer a variety of benefits. It:
builds intercultural knowledge and understanding
develops intercultural communication skills

improves language competence and oral communication skills

develops multilingual interests and attitudes

provides opportunities to study content through different perspectives

allows learners more contact with the target language

does not require extra teaching hours

complements other subjects rather than competes with them

diversifies methods and forms of classroom practice

increases learners' motivation and confidence in both the language and the
subject being taught

Much has been written on what CLIL is and why to do it, , but there is very little practical guidance
on how to plan and teach CLIL lessons. If you are a subject teacher who has been asked to teach in
English (or any other language for that matter), or a language teacher who has been asked to help
teach content then this article will show you where to start.
Where to start
The first things to think about when planning a CLIL lesson, or indeed a whole course, are the who
and the what. That is who your students are their level of English (or whatever the second
language is), level of content knowledge, and their requirements. What refers to what you will
teach, in terms of both content and language, and what materials to use. The who feeds in to the
what.
Who your students are
In one secondary school in Italy that I taught CLIL in the students had generally quite a high level
of English and that meant that I could focus more on the content side (here science and technology),
using English as a vehicle for content. With these students, I was able to adapt material designed for
native English pupils. On the other hand, in another school the English level was quite weak, so I
had to go for a more language-oriented approach, focusing on the particular vocabulary related to
the content areas (in this case art and design). With these pupils, native English text books were
linguistically too hard for them, so I had to write and adapt my own materials to both teach key art
and design vocabulary and also develop language skills, with the goal of allowing these students to
be able to use real English content text books by their last year of school.
Cognitive load
Another important factor to consider when selecting materials is cognitive load that is you dont
want to blow their brains with too much information. This can be done by choosing a relatively
simple content area or by using an area that you have already covered in L1 and doing the CLIL
lesson / course as revision and extension.
If language teachers and content teachers are working together then its vital to work as a team. If
you can then observe each others lessons and talk together. Content teachers will have loads of
materials which you may be able to find equivalents of in English, and language teachers will
probably have ideas as to how to exploit those materials for language.
How to exploit materials
When youve found a text that you want to cover (written or listening), the next question is how to
exploit it. Here language teachers are in familiar territory, but subject teachers are probably less
familiar with the techniques of how to exploit a text for language. One of the first aspects to think
about may be the vocabulary is there any technical or specialist vocabulary that your students
need to know for the course or to understand the text? If so then you might want to pre-teach this by
getting students to match words to definitions or pictures, or by making a gap-fill. Alternatively, you
could help them discover the meanings through the text helping them to guess meaning from
context.

Your main activity will probably concentrate on general comprehension of the text. You can do this
with comprehension questions, information gaps, jigsaw reading tasks, jumble tasks, and so on.
Follow-up activities can work on reinforcing the vocabulary taught earlier and developing both
language skills and comprehension of the topic. These activities can include group discussions,
individual presentations, making posters and writing about the topic (for homework or in class).