Some Thoughts on CLIL...

March 2012

Hegelian Dialectic

In light of the work and writing I do covering a variety of different fields in the general area of education, here are my basic beliefs on Content and Language Integrated Learning.

  • CLIL at present typically involves language learning being somewhat awkwardly tagged on the normal teaching of subjects, often in large classes.
  • The obvious problem with this is that nobody really improves language skills by listening to a teacher talk on a topic. This means that the language learning element is inevitably half-hearted and basically redundant.
  • People learn a lot of other, very important, things by listening to a teacher talk on a topic.
  • Ergo, a good CLIL teacher should combine explicit teaching with creating opportunities for student talk. In order for CLIL to be a viable form of SLA pedagogy, the heavier emphasis has to be on the latter.
  • The best way to do this is to integrate CLIL with Task-Based Learning. This makes it unmistakably student-centred.
  • This presents a challenging but inspiring task for teachers to create both intellectually and emotionally compelling materials that combine knowledge with linguistic skill development.