About CLIL

I call myself lucky as I had the chance to attend David Marsh's Inside the minds of the Internet generation plenary on the 9th ELTA Conference in 2011. It was the first time I had heard about CLIL and it had a huge impact on me. Ever since I was searching for an opportunity to try out this approach. Fortunately, I have two smart kindergarten-aged "students" (one of them is my older daughter) to test it on. But what is CLIL?


The expression CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) was first used by David Marsh (he has been working on multilingualism and bilingual education since the 1980s)

"CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language."


Phil Ball, Keith Kelly and John Clegg in their book, Putting CLIL into Practice, distinguish Soft CLIL (where teaching and learning are focused mainly on language) and Hard CLIL (here, the focus is on the subject, so it is content-driven).


The 4C's - Content, Communication, Cognition, Culture - are essential principals to this approach. Content refers to the subject or theme of the lesson (e.g. mathematics, art, science, history). Communication refers to students using the target language to communicate their thoughts, opinions, feelings. They "learn to use language and use language to learn," says Coyle. Cognition has reference to critical thinking skills that students use to engage with and understand content, solve problems, and to reflect on their learning. Culture covers collaboration and cooperation. Its ultimate goal is to increase international awareness and understanding.


How can CLIL be used with very young learners?


According to Margaret Whitfield, (co-author of the kindergarten series Show and Tell) "supporters claim that combining subject learning (e.g. science or music) with language learning can increase student motivation and improve understanding. However, they’re often talking about older children who have some existing knowledge of English and the subject – can we bring CLIL into a Kindergarten classroom with equal benefits? Well, the good news is that we don’t have to. CLIL is already there! In Kindergarten, children are being exposed to new concepts and content all the time, from number work to songs to mixing coloured paints and beyond. In addition, young children are innately curious about the world around them and love to explore new things...CLIL is an inspiring and achievable tool for kindergarten."


Cover photo: Designed by kjpargeter / Freepik

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