The Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a fairly new approach where the English teacher uses cross-curricular content as students learn both the content and English. Put simply, CLIL combines teaching content from a curriculum with the explicit teaching of the target language.
As defined by Maljers and others, (2010) CLIL is “a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of content and language with the objective of promoting both content and language mastery to predefined levels”
Coyle (2010) advanced 4 Cs Conceptual Framework for CLIL
- Content (subject matter)
- Communication (language learning and using it)
- Cognition (learning and thinking processes)
- Culture/Community (developing intercultural understanding and global citizenship)
The CLIL programme operates under 4Cs:
Thus, CLIL is an enhancing classroom practice through hands-on activities and language improvement.
THE CORE FEATURES OF CLIL
- Multiple focus – CLIL integrate several subjects and organize learning through cross-curricular themes or projects.
- Safe and enriching learning environment – With CLIL teachers use routine activities, build the student confidence (to experiment with language and content) and guide them in accessing authentic learning materials or environments.
- Authenticity – CLIL let the students ask for the language help they need, maximize the accommodation of student interest, make a regular connection between learning and the students’ lives and use current materials from the media and other sources.
- Active learning – CLIL promote students communicating more than the teacher and evaluating their progress. There is always a preference to peer co-operative work.
- Scaffolding – CLIL encourage students to use different learning styles and; creative and critical thinking skills.
- Co-operation – The main quality of this feature is that CLIL involve parents in learning about how to support students.
As a result of CLIL, there has been changes in the approach to our teaching culture. However, not all change comes smoothly. It appears the advantages of CLIL far outweigh the disadvantages.
Ms Sabina Nowak (2011) presented a paper in which she outlined the advantages and problems of CLIL:
Advantages to the CLIL Approach:
- It develops confident learners.
- It enhances academic cognitive processes and communication skills.
- It encourages intercultural understanding and community values.
- Learners become more sensitive to vocabulary and ideas presented in their first language as well as in the target language.
- Learners gain more extensive and varied vocabulary in the target language.
- Learners reach proficiency levels in all four skills of Listening, Speaking, Writing and Reading.
Problems with CLIL:
CLIL teachers admit having some problems through:
- the lack of materials,
- the absence of collaboration,
- the lack of interest from the teachers of the same class or of the same school,
- having difficulties in properly integrating content and language,
- creating an authentic and real setting in the classroom.
In short, the CLIL pedagogical approach depends on a number of factors, for example how far a school wants teachers to work together or how much English teachers are willing to support their subject colleagues.
However, recent research has shown that upon the end of the first year of implementing CLIL programme, students in the CLIL groups were outperforming their peers in ALL subjects, not just their foreign language. It was also noted that by the time the students reach end of Key Stage 4 (Grade 11) there is no clear gap in attainment, although they are still outperforming their peers in some subjects. In essence CLIL students are well equipped to deal with other challenges across the curriculum due to the transferable skills they have gained in the CLIL lessons; an emphasis on skills and communication is enhancing attainment.
Still there are key questions to be asked by educationists:
- Is CLIL the future of teaching?
- Is CLIL programme something that could excite both teachers and students?
- Are the impressive results produced, the best when it comes to language learning?