114 comments on “To teach English is human, to teach CLIL is divine?

  1. Very good point Jeremy! I am in the middle of a CLIL project right now, but I have my own doubts whether this is actually as good as they say.

  2. Hi Jeremy

    You are right in that sometimes people tend to concentrate on the benefits CLIL has for language learning but this usually comes from language teachers – such as most of the colleagues probably reading this blog.
    When CLIL is properly introduced in education, one is careful that the subject content is taught adequately. This is crucial when CLIL is implemented the way it should be (in my humble opinion) i.e. teaching a subject in another language. If this is done so, then teachers have to emphasise the subject and that is where students are assessed.
    Unfortunately often colleagues, in their efforts to try to be up to date (?) teach content-based/topic-based English and think it is CLIL whereas in this case the teacher is not really interested whether the student learnt his/her science or geography. In essence the student knows that too. He/she will be assessed on their English and NOT on the topic. So, this is where the problem very often lies.
    As in the countries you mention that are backing out, I think there are a range of issues to blame and not the approach as such.
    CLIL works but it works when a range of factors are in place and when it does the developments are evident in the subject matter too.
    From our experience in Cyprus, CLIL implementation has had a very positive effect on the subject taught.
    Sophie

  3. I have genuinely high hopes for CLIL, more so than for dogme, I have to say (not that I’m trying to directly compare the two). Perhaps my desire is based in the fact that my teaching context is highly focused on content based instruction, of which CLIL seems to be a natural extension.

    I like the notion of there merely being different ways of expressing a notion, some linguistically sophisticate, others less so. This is where the traditional grammar syllabus is selling learners short. Nevertheless, I do fear for the young ‘uns in countries like Spain that have dived into what is essentially still a ‘fad’.

    The language we use to describe a given concept is inherently connected to that concept, although I think we’ll end up seeing two camps develop; the hardcore CLIListas and the neo-decontextualised grammar CLILardos.

    Who will win? It will be interesting to see.

    • Hi Adam,

      I’m glad your comment made it through in the end!

      I am interested in your Dogme/CLIL comparison. I see similarities in that most teachers do a bit of both, but few are totally committed!!!

      I have seen (have even written) lessons which have had CLIL elements (that is if I understand the concept correctly. But I can’t imagine where I would find (in most countries I visit) teachers who could take on a long hard CLIL approach.

      Of course if we CAN educate children this way, that is all to the good – but for what? The concepts or the language (my original questions)?

      Yes, the language for a concept is concept-specific. That begs a question, of course: is it a god thing to be that specific and make things less generalisable?

      Jeremy

  4. “Teaching English for no obvious reason (TENOR) has had its day” Well, maybe I’ll sound very silly, but I learn English for no obvious reason (LENOR), and my students often tell me they would like to learn French “for no obvious reason”, just because it’s a beautiful language, just for the sake of it, for the mere pleasure of speaking a foreign language, which gets bigger and bigger : the more you can speak it, the more beautiful language snow you get, the bigger the snowball.
    But nowadays the word “objectives” is written in such tall letters everywhere, (even on the soles of a toddler’s shoes), that it seems “unreasonable” not to be obsessed by it too. And so, let’s dissect objectives, they’ll multiply, we’ll triple the joy. Because it is thought that the more precise the objectives, the better. But the beauty of language is not in the pointy details only, it’s in the flowing, the musical, the creative nature of it. CLIL sounds like this to me : dissecting “objectives”, to create a new market, and a new jargon.

    • Hello Alice,

      thank you for that beautiful reminder of the joy of language – learning it because it is there, and because we want to and because maybe, one day, we can appreciate poetry and fiction in another language.

      IF CLIL is just another mindless ‘objective-driven’ fad then it is not a good thing. But if it really helps both language AND content then it is to be welcomed?

      Jeremy

  5. I attended a CLIL discussion at an IATEFL conference a few years ago. Someone asked David Marsh (big fish in CLIL world), “Could you tell us about some of the negative aspects of CLIL?” His reply? “No, next question?”
    Spain could look to Germany where CLIL is not a big thing at all yet German scientists are perfectly comfortable working with English-speaking colleagues. I sometimes proofread scientific texts written by German scientists and their level of English is amazingly high. How did they manage it without CLIL? I think we should find out.
    It seems that CLIL is much better than EFL teaching because it has an an impressive array of SFLAs. Stupid Four Letter Acronyms.🙂

    • Well there are loads of people who speak English well despite the methods they were taught through. I wonder how they made it?
      what about all the people who learnt English through English translation and the Audiolingual method? Does this means the methods were great?
      What it means is that some motivated people will learn DESPITE the method.
      The question is: what about all the other people who did not learn despite being top students in audiolingual and translation classes? etc etc

      • Sophie,

        yes your question is a good one – and one that exercises the minds of everyone in language teaching and planning. Methods such as audiolingualism and GT and even the traditional structural-situational teaching that has charaterized much western TEFL seemed to work well for some but not for all.
        Why?

        !

        Jeremy

    • Hi Jeremy,

      your story about David Marsh is instructive. Of COURSE every approach and development has some negative aspects!! Beware the anti-negative blinkers.

      But – in case you think I’m weighing in on this – I was not there so I can’t comment on the actual event, my comments are only made ‘in the abstract’.

      In order for CLIL to ‘sweep the world’ it needs to be able to back up the claim that it is better for (a) English and (b) the content.

      Jeremy

      • Or simply to prove that it is just as good as other approaches for a) teaching English and b) teaching content

  6. Hi Alice

    I don’t think it is like that at all. Learning English for no obvious reason I think would better translate into not having any motivation for learning a language – obviously this is not so for you.
    There are many who need some motivation to do so and need some reason to use the language. CLIL makes language learning meaningful. Of course language learning can be make meaningful in the hands of talented teachers but so often it is exam-oriented etc
    CLIL offers the possibility for learners to really communicate about something – it creates real communication opportunities in the classroom and implements most of the principles of communicative language teaching and task-based learning in an effortless way.
    Obviously it is currently being exploited by the marketing departments of a number of schools and a number of publshing houses. It is a shame though to let they hype lead you to a negative stance towards it.
    We (I guess the lot, Jeremy refers to – or at least me and some other colleagues involved in CLIL) are sorry to see the way it is being used and manipulated and being stretched so it fits anyone and everyone who wants to seem trendy and up to date.

    • Sophie,

      yes, that’s the thing. If CLIL DOES mean something it is because it is real and genuine and answers new and pressing needs. But CLIL will be diminished if it just picked up and ‘abused’ by people who aren’t really doing it.

      Jeremy

  7. Hi Jeremy, I was a TENOR student and learnt in spite of it. Just recently I heard and ESOL teacher say: I am an eclectic teacher – trying to make the most and pick and choose the best from each method/approach. Tell you the truth, I’m no purist myself, and do also mix and match.

    When it comes to CLIL, all I can say is that I can’t do maths in English, I must have the cadency of my mother language when calculating. Food for thought?

    • Hello tenor Luciana!

      Yes, I am sure students can learn English ‘for no obvious reason’ – and enjoy it (and have great success) as you and Alice have done!

      Eclecticism HAS to be a good answer when we teach groups full of individuals.

      The question about you and maths and CLIL is, for me, whether either your English or your maths would be better off if they were taught separately or together!

      Jeremy

      • I liked maths well enough when I learnt it in my mother tongue. My knowledge of English at that time was rubbish, so I’m not sure how I would have dealt with it. I can see it causing some trouble.

        What I notice is that maths and scientific topics, not being my line of work / interest, are now better understood in the language I originally learnt them. So, there may be a point for CLIL. Teach them science in English early on and they might have less trouble dealing with these subjects in English at higher levels.
        But is English the most wide-spread language for science??

  8. I have to admit to being very sceptical about CLIL.

    I was involved in a big project which aimed at introducing CLIL. It was woefully lacking in its planning and delivery (even thought I was involved!). At the time I didn’t know much about CLIL and we were just asked to deliver a TKT course to a group of local school teachers. When we arrived, ready to impart knowledge on the grateful teachers, we were shocked by the bile, vitriol and near mutiny that we encountered. Basically, nobody had thought about what the teachers needed to be able implement CLIL in their classrooms and were just instructed to get the certificate or be sacked. The teachers needed language development, not ELT training.

    As Sophie says “CLIL works but it works when a range of factors are in place”. That was certainly not the case in my experience, and, I think, the majority of cases. That’s why CLIL is being abandoned. I honestly don’t know if it works when implemented correctly because I have nothing to base my opinion on.

    And, selfishly, I don’t want to teach science!

    • Hi Emily,

      thanks for coming along.

      (I don’t want to teach science as it happens, though I DO appreciate real and ‘needed’ content).

      But your story ABSOLUTELY confirms my worries about imposing some ill-understood ‘new’ paradigm on teachers who have not asked for it and, more important, who do not have the requisite training or support to make it work.

      If you want a paradigm shift you have to get teachers to ‘buy into it’ first, don’t you? And then amsses of support?

      Jeremy

      • This is common now in many countries now. Notably, in the UAE it was decided that all teachers now had to get IELTS scores of 5.5+ and teach their subjects (previously taught in Arabic – their native tongue) in English.
        Unbelievably stressful for the teachers, and often no financial incentives beyond “do it or lose your job” were given.

  9. Hi Jeremy,

    This is a large and complex issue – in Spain CLIL seems to be being implemented very poorly on the whole, and the main reasons for this seem to be a) Lack of teacher training and insufficient level of L2 on the part of the teacher. (Just a B1 level is required to get a teaching position at a “bilingual” school, which is actually nothing of the sort) and b) A quick-fix answer to the question of why the level of second language ability in Spain is behind that of many other countries. If it is not being implemented well, it is hard to see how CLIL can be really successful.

    On the other hand, I am actually doing a bit of CLIL with one of my groups of young learners (first year primary). I am an English teacher, but I have designed a syllabus full of content, cognitive and language objectives. Those who would like to know more, will be able to read a guest post on http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com/ sometime over the next month or so!

    • Hello Michelle,

      great that you have come along!

      I am looking forward to your guest blog!

      So you are a ‘soft-CLIL’ teacher!! I completely agree with that idea. But is a CLIL lesson merely a lesson using ‘real-world’ content? There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it doesn’t make for a ‘brave new world’ does it?

      `You are so so so right (I suspect) about problems when CLIL is introduced indiscriminately. For in order to be a successful CLIL teacher you need good English and good subject knowledge and sufficient training.

      My suspicion is that in most places where CLIL is enthusiastically introduced at least one or two (maybe even three?) of those needs are not being met.

      Jeremy

  10. I think what this discussion is pointing out is that -as Jeremy puts it – CLIL is being abused by a number of people.

    Carried away by the enthusiasm (or the hype) they rush to implement it without having secured some basic factors (much like buidling without proper foundations.

    Some of the main factors are:
    a) competence in the foreign language by the teacher
    b) teachers trained in language teaching methodology
    c) teachers trained in the specific content’s methodology

    Other factors are continuous support for the teachers and provision of suitable teaching materials.

    I think often CLIL seems to be a victim of its own success. People observe a successful CLIL lesson and it all seems to be running so smoothly and effectively. Then other colleagues and/or policy makers want to implement it and think it is OK to just get started.
    The reality behind a successful CLIL lesson or overall programme involves a lot of hard work and teacher training and much more.

    We specifically require that teachers have the first three factors above, before they can start teaching CLIL.

    • Hi Sophie,

      yes, that’s just it. You DO need 3 competencies at least to be a CLIL teacher – but as usual when governments get involved they think they can them on the cheap.

      I think it may be more fun to teach ‘soft’ CLIL (because of the content). But the occasional lesson about Emperor penguins or the process of evaporation is not so different from any other EFL lesson – the content is just different. But to be a REAL CLIL teacher you need deep subject knowledge at least.

      Then the methodology.

      And definitely, good English.

      That’s a big big ask.

      Jeremy

  11. I agree with the three factors that Sophie suggests above. So CLIL might be ready for introduction (in most countries) in about 10-15 years. In the meantime I have a wonderfully simple alternative: introduce more subject content into English teaching. English teachers will always need content of some kind do why shouldn’t it be a bit of history, geography, science?

    • Jeremy,

      yes I agree – and in fact if you look at some better coursebooks they have always had ‘soft’ CLIL in them (unless CLIL means something very different, and for the life of me I can’t see it yet).

      So I am all for decent content – which includes anything from acid rain to how the sun works etc as valid topics for any class.

      But the hard stuff?! It may take years to implement, by which time the band may have marched on?

      Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremies : )

        Why do you guys assume that it’s going to take so many year???
        Teachers with double specialisations are not as rare as you think.
        In primary schools it is normal for teachers to be able to teach more than one subject.
        Many university graduates have double majors.
        I don’t see why you are pushing readiness too far into the future. It can be done. It’s just that it needs people to be aware of what needs to be done so that it is implemented effectively.

  12. Luciana :

    I liked maths well enough when I learnt it in my mother tongue. My knowledge of English at that time was rubbish, so I’m not sure how I would have dealt with it. I can see it causing some trouble.

    What I notice is that maths and scientific topics, not being my line of work / interest, are now better understood in the language I originally learnt them. So, there may be a point for CLIL. Teach them science in English early on and they might have less trouble dealing with these subjects in English at higher levels.
    But is English the most wide-spread language for science??

    I think English is a common language for science – but the commonest? By how much? I don’t know.

    Don’t I’d enjoy maths and science in Spanish (which is my not-very-good second language) much!

    I am in two minds about whether or not learning science in the L2 is a good think or not…

    Jeremy

  13. In a softer version, if it is about using content in our classes and dealing with meaning first, well, as someone has already said, then that’s what we should be doing already.

    As for hard CLIL, I’m worried mainly because it’s a fad here in Brazil. For a while in Rio it seemed there was a new billboard every day announcing that a new school had gone bilingual, teaching part of the curriculum in English. Not only am I confident that there aren’t enough subject-matter specialists with fluent Academic English to go around, but I’m also worried about the ideological implications of the whole thing. I don’t believe that changing the language is just changing the wrapping of the same content. That’s too much of the conduit metaphor for me. The content will necessarily be changed — whether it’s for the better or for the worse ir remains to be seen. What seems to happen (but I may be wrong, since I’m a bystander in the whole CLIL revolution here) is that the Humanities are still taught in Portuguese, while the other Sciences are taught in English. Well, considering the status that both technology/Sciences and English already have, this can actually undermine the view of Portuguese as an Academic language in its own right. But then again, considering how much of our research is ignored worldwide because of the language, then aren’t we (I mean me! LOL) being hypocrites by worrying with a status we have never held?

    P.S.: As I said on Twitter, I just began studying about this and I’d really appreciate some references about content-based learning. According to ICAO, that’s what I should be teaching my students, who are all air traffic controllers. However, all I could only find were CLIL books, which seem to focus on schools rather than in the ESP domain. But I’m sure you and your readers can help me.🙂

    • Natalia,

      that is a very interesting perspective – the idea that by teaching some subjects in English (and only the humanities in English) you undermine the status and validity of the home language (Portuguese).

      The whole way in which languages clash and rub against each other is difficult to work out, isn’t it (hence your comments about worldwide research).

      I understand that a lot of CLIL focuses on schools – although as people have been saying in their comments here many teachers offer CLIL-‘like’ lessons at all levels. But air traffic control is not so much CLIL, is it, as full-on ESP. There ARE materials out there but I don’t know them…will try and find out.

      Jeremy

      • jeremyharmer :But air traffic control is not so much CLIL, is it, as full-on ESP. There ARE materials out there but I don’t know them…will try and find out.

        Thank you for your help!🙂

        I may have misunderstood what you wrote, but I don’t think that being full-on ESP means ATC English can’t be anything else. After all, we can teach ESP following communicative, task-based or basically any other methodology. ICAO suggests we do it with CBLT. I think they mean we should be teaching refresher courses such as “Safety in Aviation”, which ATCOs have to take anyway, in English, or perhaps we should scaffold ICAO materials and documents, which are for the most part written in English. (At least that’s how one company understood it http://www.aeservices.net/English/articles_value_of_content.html)

        It’s the same 2-for-1 concept that CLIL has, but out of the school context, which is why I wrote that I fail to see the difference between CLIL and CBLT. But then again I realize I don’t know enough about either.

  14. CLIL has a great track record in Finland. However, we don’t all teach there & our learners are not Finns. Malaysia recently dropped clil after 10 years of it. Looks to me like the writing is on the wall for clil in countries like Spain. I wager that 10 years down the line we’ll be back where we are now – Been there, done that & ( surprise!) it didn’t work out🙂

    • Hello Nicky!

      Well you are right there – about us and Finland!!

      If CLIL IS to work, then Spain is the ultimate test case. English learning at school in Spain has not been, over the years, conspicuously successful. Of course that doesn’t make Spain different from many other countries (and look at foreign language learning in the UK if you want to get REALLY depressed!). But CLIL has been put forward as some kind of a saviour for this situation.

      Is it? I can’t tell. I’m not right there right in it. But the sounds coming out of it are not, as yet, encouraging. On the other hand Sophie’s enthusiasm (above) is pretty infectious.

      As a mutual friend and colleague said to me the other day ‘I’m in two minds about it’. Well so am I. Hence this blogpost of course!

      Jeremy

  15. sophie ioannou georgiou :

    Hi Jeremies : )

    Why do you guys assume that it’s going to take so many year???
    Teachers with double specialisations are not as rare as you think.
    In primary schools it is normal for teachers to be able to teach more than one subject.
    Many university graduates have double majors.
    I don’t see why you are pushing readiness too far into the future. It can be done. It’s just that it needs people to be aware of what needs to be done so that it is implemented effectively.

    Thanks, Sophie, for that corrective.

    Yes, of course primary schools have teachers who teach across a range of subjects. And at primary level many can do that. But whereas it is fairly easy to be a mistress or master of experimenting, for example, about what things float, or how to do simple mathematics, actually knowing a language means that you have to KNOW it.

    Of course, if primary school EFL is just a taster then that’s a different matter.

    I can’t see reasons why good CLIL at primary shouldn’t work IF you have competent English-language users. But what are the benefits for the core subjects? What for English?

    Jeremysubjects, what for English

    • Of course there needs to be teacher competence in the foreign language – goes without saying …

      I thought we talked about the benefits earlier ….
      and there are additional benefits to those mentioned earlier. These are practical benefis such as finding the time in the school timetable to teach a foreign language. It is often one of the biggest problems!
      (This is juat and additional benefits to others mentioned above – pls don’t take it as the major consideration)

  16. Hi Jeremy,

    When I look at the definition of CLIL, it looks like an ideal way of teaching/learning content and a foreign language.

    “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.”
    (http://www.onestopenglish.com/clil/what-is-clil/)

    However, when I look into the reality in my country, I can say that it is a fantasy. First of all, I don’t know the answers of these questions:

    -Should it be the subject teacher or the English teacher who is teaching a subject through English? Or can both be possible? Even if both are possible, I think, neither English nor Turkish subject teachers can do it properly. The reasons are simple:
    1. English teachers are trained to teach English and we cannot expect them to teach maths or science.
    2. Subject teachers are trained to teach subjects and they are taught how to do it in Turkish. There are not many subject teachers who can use English as a means of communication in the classroom or to teach a subject.

    -If we teach a subject through English, what should we assess? Linguistic outcomes or content area knowledge? Or both??

    Furthermore, I think, if a student learns subjects in their native language, the level of competence would be much higher and the students are more likely to ‘produce knowledge’ in the further steps of their academic lives. If the content is taught in English, student would try to cope with both the subject area content and the linguistic content which will make it difficult to master even one of them.

    I don’t think we need a single content area to teach English well and the content area teachers need a foreign language as a medium of instruction. Why should they?

    I, as an English teacher, need to make learning English ‘meaningful’ for my students and I can do this via a variety of authentic or graded materials & tasks which I choose according to the lesson’s linguistic aims and my students’ interests. I can either choose an article from a history magazine or a video about global warming from the National Geographic website. Without content, how can the language I teach be meaningful? But, still, I teach language not the content. I guess this can be called a ‘soft CLIL’ approach…

    I think that working with subject teachers in the planning period and having some common projects and/or lessons is very good for curriculum integrity but teaching the subjects through English doesn’t seem logical to me…

    By the way, are there any Turkey trips in your agenda? I wish you were coming to ISTEK.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Burcu

    • Hello Burcu,

      thanks you so much for your comments. I think you summarise (very effectively) the whole debate about CLIL.

      It goes something like this:

      1
      where CLIL is badly implemented it isn’t going to work (teachers not prepared etc)

      2
      Good teachers always include interesting content to teach English with

      3
      it is still unclear to me whether the content is enhanced or damaged by using the L2

      (But – in case Sophie is worried) CLIL clearly can and does work in some situations. It may in the end be an issue of training and investment.

      (But I can’t help feeling that learning content in Turkish is pretty good for Turkish kids!!!)

      I’ll be in Izmir and samsun, but oh, how sad, not in Istanbul!!

      Jeremy

  17. I’m keeping track of this discussion and I feel sad about all the negativity. I don’t know if it is because of bad publicity some CLIL programmes are getting, because of misunderstanding of the concept or because of a hidden fear that others are tresspassing into our territories?

    Sometimes the argument is “This is not going to work where I live” or “This can not work where I live”. That’s fine and acceptable but one should not generalise and trash an approach simply because it will not work in their own context at this particular point in time.

    Judged in such a subjective/context-restricted manner, then the arguments of those in whose contexts CLIL works are equally valid. An approach does not necessarily need to fit all contexts in order to be a worthwhile approach.

    So, if it doesn’t fit, then don’t stretch it. But don’t discard it or reject it either. One day it might fit (things change fast) and if it doesn’t, it’s still OK.

    • Sophie,

      I am sorry about the negativity too!

      When I think of good primary lessons – a topic stretching over many different content areas, children involved in play and study – then CLIL sounds absolutelt right IF the langauge is there.

      Of course you are right to say that CLIL approaches DO work – where they do work!!

      I think the negativity comes from (a) people who have an interest in EFL, (b) people who are suspicious of big changes, (c) epople who look at the activities of education ministeries and (d) people who’ve seen CLIL fail because it’s been badly implemented.

      But I would hate you to think (this is me speaking personally) that good CLIL practice is unattractive. On the contrary it sounds wonderful!

      Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremy

        You’ve desribed CLIL in primary so well!

        The only thing I can say is that hopefully people for whom the approach resonates continue to try to implement it well and share their experiences with the rest of us. Then these experiences will help others to implement it better and avoid making the same mistakes.

        It is easy to criticise some programmes that may not be doing well but when these were starting they were pioneers and had no one to learn from but their own experiences and, perhaps, mistakes.

        Having started our implementation five years ago, I felt lucky that we could study other programmes and learn from them. This is what it’s all about. It’s very difficult walking in uncharted territory.

        So I’m thankful to the brave ones who went ahead, opening the paths for us – whereas we can follow and smooth the path and, perhaps, sort out the signposting ….

        For those who have an interest in EFL, I think there is no reason to worry. My belief is that CLIL will always work in addition to language classes and not instead of language classes. Based on my personal experiences I think that is the best way to go.

  18. Surely the problem is that CLIL in formal education inevitably tends towards a top-down exercise in developing students’ declarative memories in the traditional manner of learning history or chemistry; where a clearly defined flow of knowledge from teacher to student makes large classes workable and cost efficient.

    I think there is a bit of room for this; it’s intellectually stimulating, encourages critical thinking and makes more sophisticated speakers. Ultimately though, I think CLIL has to be properly integrated with TBL to be of real value in developing language skills, and this takes quite a bit of engineering on the part of the course designer.

    • Really interesting comments!

      It’s not just the spine of CLIL that matters, in other words; it’s the clothing, the flesh and bones of it, the HOW of it!

      Of course that applies to all content teaching too – and English teaching.

      Best? A blend of experiential, declarative and reflective practice?

      Jeremy

  19. I was impressed by this sentence “Is CLIL the present? The Future (perfect)? The soon-to-be-past (even with the massive investment in it)? because this idea ishas been seething in my mind in the last weeks. I have been for a long time a CLIL fan (and teachers’ trainer). Then I did a doctoral research and wrote my thesis on the the CLIL subject teacher in Italy and Spain and I had the opportunity to study deeper the whole thing and I began to have doubts about it. Not because the initial idea was not valid – I still find it a good idea – but as a matter of fact the CLIL approach has so many impications to be effective that are generally not considered. I must admit I have seen very few really good CLIL implementations. I think that a good CLIL imply a change of paradigm in the curriculum that is not generally triggered (and some times it is not even possible because there is a mismatch between innovation desire and legislation. Another point is that I think too that CLIL is already the past and the challenges for education and teachers’ training are – in my opinion – already changing.

    • Hi Lauretta,

      thank you so much for you very interesting comments.

      I completely agree that the promise of CLIL is great. And when it works (as Sophie tells us above) it is worth celebrating.

      But my who concern in this post has been to question why we want to teach core content in English, especially when in many situations, the implementation and the resources backup just aren’t there.

      We will see if you are right and that the future is something else!

      A lot depends, I suspect, on the way in which education and technology integrate over the next few years…

      Jeremy

  20. Jeremy,

    as long as teachers continue to advocate CLIL as a grand way of TEACHING language and subject at the same time you’re dead right in questioning the current CLIL craze!

    Trying to TEACH a language or an academic subject is an approach open to many questions in first place anyway.

    Let’s (more) talk about METHODS.

    Hans

  21. sophie ioannou georgiou :

    Hi Jeremy

    You’ve desribed CLIL in primary so well!

    The only thing I can say is that hopefully people for whom the approach resonates continue to try to implement it well and share their experiences with the rest of us. Then these experiences will help others to implement it better and avoid making the same mistakes.

    It is easy to criticise some programmes that may not be doing well but when these were starting they were pioneers and had no one to learn from but their own experiences and, perhaps, mistakes.

    Having started our implementation five years ago, I felt lucky that we could study other programmes and learn from them. This is what it’s all about. It’s very difficult walking in uncharted territory.

    So I’m thankful to the brave ones who went ahead, opening the paths for us – whereas we can follow and smooth the path and, perhaps, sort out the signposting ….

    For those who have an interest in EFL, I think there is no reason to worry. My belief is that CLIL will always work in addition to language classes and not instead of language classes. Based on my personal experiences I think that is the best way to go.

    That’s a very cheerful comment/reply, Sophie

    And if something works then it should be celebrated – as you have been doing in these comemnts!

    As usual, with any approach, it is always possible that the people who have the biggest stake in what’s going on (the CLIL machine) will over-promote what is going on, whereas others will try and climb onto the backs of all this forgetting that what really matters (always) is the ‘buy-in’ and the training and the support etc!

    Your experiences sound different from all of this!

    Jeremy

  22. Good issue to address here, Jeremy.

    I ran a whole institute program based around CLIL (I was calling it CBI and more influenced by the Canadian and US perspective at the time) in 2001-2003, in Korea, from kindergarten through year 8.

    The results were spectacular in terms of student motivation, vocabulary uptake, and fluency, but much less spectacular in terms of grammar accuracy. This was, in the end, the undoing of the movement in that context in a lot of ways, because the students continued to be tested according to discrete language skills (and grammar in particular) in the school system, where stakes are horrendously high. Their fluency and bilingual subject knowledge were great things, but it didn’t grant any specific rewards within the country’s assessment system for English.

    So, as with so many other aspects of EFL, a lot of this comes back to testing. Until the tests change to incorporate CLIL, or CLIL finds a way to cater to the tests that exist in certain contexts, it risks being something along the lines of an interesting diversion, but ultimately a false promise to learners.

    Cheers,

    – Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      thanks for bringing things back to reality! It is ALWAYS testing, isn’t it! If you want to change a system, change the tests. That’s the way it goes, and that’s why so much methodological talk disappears down a testing black hole (“lovely idea, your methodology, but my students have to pass a test”).

      But you also highlight one of my big questions about content-based instruction: in such an approach which benefits most? The content or the language? Or neither? or both?

      Of course grammar is, er, grammar….

      Jeremy

  23. Hi Jeremy,

    I agree, there are many ways of putting CLIL into practice. In Spain the softer version is being implemented in most schools…fortunately. CLIL does require a different profile of teachers, different resources and a different approach. In my opinion, after 20 years in TEFL and 7 in CLIL, CLIL makes more sense than TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign! Language). A FOREIGN language? In Spain English is not a foreign language any more. University students have lectures in English. They are starting to have the possibility of even doing their whole university studies in English. Students in bilingual high schools are getting together with students from other countries to do science, geography or history projects together….in English. Professionals go to more and more international conferences….where people speak English. Companies need to open new markets…abroad…in English. The Internet has taken over the world and most of its content is….yes, that’s right! English is not a foreign language. It is not a language to get coffee in London in the summer any more. I have been involved in CLIL the last few years and although I know that it is not working perfectly it gives the students the English they need for their studies and their professional careers. It gives them more academic English. In our CLIL lessons students aged 11-12 are discussing ecosystems, the food chain, the universe, the human body…in English. In our school, we focus more on the language than on the content because we are a language school but still, students have a chance to consolidate their knowledge and to learn new things by doing projects, doing research and having discussions in English. I think CLIL can be very effective if done properly. But the ideal programme for me is one that combines CLIL with general English. Our students need academic English but they still need to get coffee in London…in the summer. So why not bring some content to our English programme? This is what I’ve been doing the last few years. To give you some examples: when we teach food to children aged 6 we still teach I like / don’t like…My favourite fruit is… But then we go into food from animals and food from plants. Healthy vs unhealthy diets. Food we get proteins from….The same when we teach animals: we talk about how many legs they have got, whether they are big or small but then we go into vertebrates vs invertebrates or viviparous vs oviparous.
    There are advantages and disadvantages in CLIL but I think the balance is positive and it is the only way to go nowadays…until the Chinese take over.

    • While we’re still in Andalusia (hi, Borja) it might be worth referring to a study reported in Applied Linguistics (July 2010) on the effect of implementing CLIL on a large scale in southern Spain, as part of the government’s ‘Pluralingualism Promotion Plan’. CLIL classes in 61 primary and secondary schools were surveyed, in order to answer the question (among others) “Is CLIL having any visible effect aside from that observed in L2 learning?” One conclusion of the study, based on teacher questionnaire data, is that “CLIL is beneficial to the educational process in general, an opinion echoed by parents and learners alike” (p.433). However, there are no objective data on the attainment results in tests, which does still leave open the question as to whether subject area objectives and being met. Nevertheless, the article represents serious research, and, as such, I think helps move the argument beyond mere opinion and hearsay.

      Lorenzo, F., Casal, S., & Moore, P. 2010. The effects of content and language integrated learning in European education: Key findings from the Andalusian bilingual sections evaluation project. Applied Linguistics, 31, 391 — 417.

      • That research is pretty equivocal. In fact it says very little of substance and seems like a typical case of argument by prestigious jargon and hedging. I’m not sure if I should value such non-findings over good old fashioned opinion and reason.

      • Hi Scott, Borja, Jeremy and everyone…

        Just a quick comment. My younger son was on the receiving end of the CLIL in primary ed in Andalusia thing, until we moved this summer. I don’t know if it was implemented the same way in all schools, but essentially what he did was repeat in English the class he’d done in Spanish a couple of days before. Science, in his case. So if they were doing, say, flowers in Spanish, just as they were finishing that module, they’d do it in English. It reinforced his knowledge of science quite well, as the effort of hanging words in one language onto word pegs in another seemed to work to actually gel the pegs as well as the words HOWEVER I was totally unconvinced by the fact that his pals (my son is bilingual) couldn’t say much more than ‘Hello how are you fine thank you how are you’ conversationally, but had vocabulary ranging from stamen and petals to vagina and uretra in perfectly pronounced English. At age 9, there’s a limited use for such stuff…. Can I have a biscuit, please? is more their regular sort of line.
        Pros and cons, I guess.

  24. Pingback: First they came… « language garden

  25. Hi Borja,

    I have been thinking about your comments for a couple of days..

    It is great to hear such a hugely positive view of what is going on. There is nothing more encouraging than hearing someone say that things are ‘better’ and how well ?new ideas and content are shaping lessons.

    So my reaction is one of huge relief – e.g. soft CLIL in your setting is far from a waste of time.

    But I can’t help thinking that CLIL (in the way you describe it) is just another form of content. Please don’t misunderstand me; that is not a criticism. Merely an observation. In other words, what seems to be happening – what you seem to be saying – is that adding academic (normally science) content is for your kids is more interesting than stories about Mr Jones dropping his wallet in the street (or some other typical EFL story). Is that right?

    If that IS the case, then my friend’s original comment – ‘people talk about the advantage of CLIL for English teaching, but they never talk about the advantage for physics’ – still holds.

    As for English not being a foreign language in Spain any more? Hmm. Well I agree that the need for (and use of) English for Spaniards is changing. But no one has really told the majority of Spanish schoolchildren yet?

    But if CLIL is to work in Spain (or anywhere else) to achieve the kind of results that you foresee, then it has to be delivered well in state education by teachers as skilled in content methodology as they are in the provision of English.

    How soon will that take?

    Thanks for your great comments.

    Jeremy

    • I can see the story of Mr Jones in a coursebook…. What can you see in picture 1? Who is he? Where is he? What’s happening in picture 4? What’s Mr Jones doing in picture 5? Where is his wallet now? Is he happy?…

      Talking about CLIL is like taking about gazpacho or paella, we all seem to have our own recipe. And it’s different in every house or restaurant. The recipe we like best. Or the recipe I can make with the ingredients I have in the fridge. Or the only one I know. Or the one I’m being told to make. In my setting, I use CLIL to do less of Mr Jones and more content. I do think Mr Jones has a role in the English class the same way that songs, arts and crafts, role plays, videos have their role….obviously depending on the age of the students. I could not teach another whole year of “ Head, shoulders , knees and toes…” “What’s the weather like today? (looking out the window) “ What’s Ana wearing today?” (pointing to Ana). “Oh! Let’s make it more fun….Everybody, close your eyes. Juan, What’s Isabel wearing? Can you remember?. No, don’t open your eyes”… That’s teaching primary in lots of classrooms. Secondary becomes more like What did you do yesterday? Tell me about your best holidays (yes, I know, again)…. With adults it might become more interesting….if we listen to the students and use their interests, experiences, needs and knowledge in class. All this is fine but…I believe students need more than that kind of English. They also need to be able to do research on the Internet where the language will not be graded like in general English coursebooks, they need to write reports at university, follow lectures given by foreign professors…all in English. Introducing CLIL in Primary and continuing throughout secondary gives the students a new dimension, especially if technology like the Internet, blogs, videos etc are also used in the CLIL class.
      I think the great advantages of introducing some CLIL is that English becomes more meaningful, it takes different shapes and has new faces. You can still do a guessing activity or describe what people are wearing but then you move into something more challenging cognitively….and you can touch different subject matters.
      So answering your question, yes, in my setting we are using CLIL to bring more interesting, relevant and challenging content to the class. Content that makes people think. And it does when you ask 7 year olds if crocodiles lay eggs or have babies, for example. Great debate! CLIL also brings language that students wouldn’t probably learn before FCE: lay eggs, breathe through gills, scales, carnivores… and this makes them hopefully more competent in English.
      This is our recipe and I know that it’s probably different from any other programme somewhere else.
      I couldn’t agree more when you say that “…then it has to be delivered well in state education by teachers as skilled in content methodology as they are in the provision of English”. I believe CLIL is effective if done properly, the same way that the communicative approach is effective if the necessary requirements are met. To do CLIL right is very challenging. State schools in Spain are making an effort and it is getting better slowly… but it will take a long time to succeed.

      • CLIL is gazpacho!! I love that.

        I agree 100% with the idea that some CLIL content is more interesting (crocodile eggs) than some of the ‘old’stuff and on that basis we should celebrate content-based teaching.

        I don’t mean to belittle the efforts of Spanish education authorities, and yes, in time who knows how things will change. Nicky thinks we will have forgotten CLIL. I’m not so sure.

        I am sure Borja that as you say ‘students need more than one kind of English’.

        Jeremy

  26. I totally see where you’re coming from here, Jeremy, (I think!) and it is a really challenging question. I think there is a definite see-saw sensation with CLIL:

    1. Is what we are doing at this point really about learning new content and subject-related skills (and if so, aren’t we eroding the effectiveness of this by doing it all in a second language which the learners haven’t mastered?)?

    2. Is what we are doing now more about developing better second language skills, with the content being the background music (and if so, how does/should subject content matter compared to any other content we might use)?

    In my own time with a CLIL program, we “stumbled” onto some discoveries on account of featuring US/UK grade-level subject content alongside the learners’ own school system subject content (in terms of topics and learning goals).

    Because we were using two sources of content for the same subjects, but from different countries and cultures, two patterns emerged:

    A. The learners already knew most of the content, but got to review it and extend it in the second language using the US/UK content (this was pronounced for maths and science, where the Asian system was often 1-2 years ahead of the US/UK content). In this case, language learning took precedence and the content/subject was somewhat secondary.

    B. The learners hadn’t been exposed to the new subject content in their L1, or only partially so (arts and humanities in particular here). In this case explicit language learning (beyond lexis) took a back seat to learning about the new subject matter.

    From there we learned to blend things more so that all subjects got an equal mix of new content to learn (less explicit language study) and content to review/extend (more explicit language study).

    We weren’t experts in this field (of CLIL) by any means, but when we got to a stage where our supplementary outside school system began to result in good language development *as well as* better results for students in their mainstream subjects studies at school, we thought we might be on to something.

    What do you think? Were we?

    – J

    • Hi Jason,

      I can’t really tell. It SOUNDS like you were on to something!!

      But why is CLIL always focused only on maths and science. What about the humanities? Does it mean that reaching kids how to received and understand language, poetry, art etc is not part of all this (and yes, language IS different of course)?

      Did the kids MIND going back to the same content? You may just be saying that revision works?!!

      The situation you describe does seem to be slightly unique (is that possible) in that students had already experienced the content (most of them).

      Borja likes CLIL because kids (and CLIL is all about primary, in particular?)prefer CLIL-type content. But what about your students. Was the content still fulfilling and engaging 2nd time round?

      Language development measured how? That’s a real question!!

      Jeremy

      • I don’t think CLIL is all about primary. I do think it’s better to start doing CLIL with primary students and continue all the way up. It’s not fair on the students to study economics in English at university or when they do a Master’s Degree when they’ve never done any CLIL or academic English before…
        We are developing CLIL programmes for juniors and their response is very positive. We’ve just done a survey among them and almost all of them said that they liked the combination of studying English (TEFL) and CLIL.

        Regarding subject matters, the ideal CLIL programme would be one which offered a wide variety of subjects. But I think that because it’s difficult to have teachers who are competent in both the subject and L2 it’s easier to focus on maybe 1, 2 or 3 subjects.

      • Hi Borja,

        sorry I have only just come back to this.

        I agree entirely. If you ARE going to do something about CLIL then starting early is the only way, really!

        Jeremy

  27. This post is a very useful summary of some concerns I’ve had about CLIL, thank you. Here are some further thoughts …
    David Marsh in IATEFL Cardiff was trying to be witty in a debate, but taken out of context, it comes over as rather arrogant. I don’t think he intended this, although I think he may have underestmated the amount of scepticism about CLIL in the hall.
    My (as yet unpublished) friend and colleague Anna Guazzi Valeria, who is active in CLIL in northern Italy, says it allows great opportunities for collaborative teaching, although it tends to revert to a fairly teacher-centred methodology.
    To my knowledge, there is at present no comprehensive curriculum of the various subjects which also takes into consideration the language needed to be taught. This creates two problems. For ELT textbooks, which include an element of CLIL, it’s easy for this element to be disregarded as irrelevant. For specific CLIL materials, there is a risk of a mismatch between high frequency language structures, low frequency lexis, and the metalanguage needed to understand the rubric. Until we get a T-level proto-curriculum of content and language syllabuses, it’s hard to supply relevant or well written material, and ironically CLIL will remain a methodology, a way of teaching, with only arbitrary content and without systematic language knowledge and skills.
    But I’d love to do the protocurriculum one day!

    • Hi Simon,

      thank you for your very informed comments.

      I think there’s a real danger that when you focus on content you forget about methodology. Science and maths teaching at primary can’t all be teacher centred (well it shouldn’t be, presumably), yet unless there is definite CLIL methodology, that may happen.

      And yes, the important thing is to decide exactly WHAT language to teach and I am not currently aware that such ‘lists’ exist.

      I wonder what will happen!

      Jeremy

  28. Hello to all!

    I love teaching CLIL and I read up on the subject as much as possible to try to deliver lessons which are creative and motivating for my young learners. I don’t have a problem with planning my lessons as I have found a wealth of material from published CLIL materials which I use alongside key stage 1 resources and reinforce the content matter with interactive games from the web.

    For me CLIL works like a dream and the learning rate of the pupils is clearly accelerated. I feel myself to be in a privileged position as I have started this school year with first year primary pupils and am therefore able to witness the successes and also the issues of the CLIL ‘experiment’ from the beginning.

    The one frustrasting and most challenging issue at my school is the resistance and lack of knowledge of CLIL from the teaching staff. For them CLIL only means: more work after school hours, pressure to understand language teaching and methodology jargon related to CLIL, and of course their own anxieties about the language itself brings a negative aspect.

    Fortunately the recent vote just about went in favour for the project to be introduced for the next year 1 group, but a significant number voted against it primarily because they believe that sufficient evidence has not been produced to persuade them that it works and does not affect the learning progress in the L1. They would prefer the project at the school to freeze for the time being, allowing the current CLIL groups to get to the final year and then see what they think of it all. An absurd proposal in my mind!

    As I believe in the project so much I intend to start collecting data from teachers, pupils and parents from questionnaires to gather data on the positives and negatives of CLIL which I hope will then inspire everyone involved to help the project become more than an experiment, a phase, a trend, into a sustainable ongoing methodology. It’s a start anyway!

    Thank you!

    Lorraine

    • Hello Lorain,

      I am so sorry i didn’t reply to these comments before.

      I am really thrilled to read of your enthusiasm. With that behind you, anything is possible.

      I like that you are collecting material, evidence etc.

      What really interests me is how you persuade people who are resistant (the staff that you talk about). How do you make them see the benefits for them of using this approach? Because if they see that they’ll go for it straight away, i think.

      Jeremy

  29. Hello,
    It depends on the governments’ priority and their detrmination to defend their local language .Also the academic standard of the local language .
    In Syria ,for instant,they have high academic standard in Arabic .So there is no need for English .But if the academic standard in the local language is low,then the obvious option is English .

    • Hello Saeed,

      I am so sorry that I didn’t reply before to your comments.

      I think I understand your point, but Syrians need English too, perhaps? To deal with the subject specific English they may encounter outside school.

      Nevertheless, you identify one of my concerns (and that of the Malaysian government, for example). Does English actually get in the way of content delivery in some cases? Is it necessary?

      Jeremy

  30. Hi Jeremy,

    I’ve been following this discussion for a while and I must say it’s been very interesting. I’m a language assistant in a CLIL programme in Spain. I work in a primary and secondary school. The other day in a co-ordination meeting I asked a maths teacher if he thought that CLIL was only beneficial for English and what he said was very interesting. I’m sure he won’t mind I share it with you!

    I asked him if he thought that teaching maths in English was only beneficial to English . He said that he thought it improved the teaching learning process because teaching his subject in a foreign language(English) meant that he had to pay much more attention to the lesson planning process. He said that it made him much more conscious of the cognitive steps involved and made him think much more carefully about how to scaffold his students’ learning.

    I don’t know about the value of CLIL or whether it has a future. I don’t think it’s ‘divine’ I find it all very new and confusing but this answer started me thinking again!

    Leahn

    • Hello Leahn,

      I feel so so bad for not having replied before to your comments.

      Thank you very much indeed for sharing the maths teacher’s thoughts. I like the idea of CLIL impacting on the actual teaching in such a satisfactory way. I find the idea that teaching CLIL means thinking much more about scaffolding to be very exciting.

      But what about general English teaching? Shouldn’t we think in the same way about that?

      Or – a different question – wouldn’t you want to think like that about teaching maths in the L1 too?

      Could it be that the teacher is just being challenged by the newness of it all?

      No idea if I am right, but your comments got me thinking…

      Jeremy

  31. Good blog. I am subscribing to it.
    I am an English teacher and am presently working at a Spanish secondary school with a “bilingual” section in the E.S.O. (11-16 year olds, “Compulsory Secondary Education”).
    The teachers who supposedly teach in English (Physical Education, Technology, Music) do not speak English well enough to hold a conversation, let alone use routine classroom language. Content teaching?? Of course there is, in Spanish. In order to make it seem like instruction is in English they give the students “notes” with technical vocabulary that the students memorize for the multiple choice tests they take. Some of these teachers are highly motivated and try very hard. Others seem to be going through motions that they do not understand. These teachers have not been trained in CLIL methodology and their only “resources” are the “Lectores” (untrained native English speakers who come to Spain to learn Spanish)and the Internet.
    We (the teachers in the English Dpt.) were supposed to have weekly planning meetings but since this was not a priority when the schedules were done no meetings are taking place.
    The “programacion” or curriculum used by the English teachers is based on grammatical content presented in the commercial method (textbook) we use, and yes, we test for discrete grammatical skills. We use the same textbook for the “bilingual sections” and the other sections.
    The creation of bilingual sections, in my experience, has resulted in veiled streaming of students. Thus, we have the more “motivated” students in the “bilingual sections” and “other” students in the regular sections.
    At this moment in time I would like to confirm that the bilingual section of my school is a fraud. This is a top-down initiative of the various Spanish Ministries of Education and like other such initiatives, it is neither well understood or adequately supported by the individual school communities it impacts.

    • I find your account very compelling – and it exactly mirrors the concerns that many people share about the ‘bandwagon’ nature of CLIL. My problem is that all the CLIL researchers claim huge success for CLIL classes and students. But at the other end of the scale there is badly implemented CLIL lip-service solutions (like the one you describe). It breaks my heart really because just learning a few English words not only isn’t CLIL, but is unlikely to make kids feel enthusiastic about English.

      So if all these research papers say CLIL is so good – how many schools ‘teach’ CLIL like yours does? I would love to know.

      Jeremy

  32. I think we all know that CLIL is not working in many primary and secondary schools in Spain and the stories we can read in this blog seem to be a good reflection of the good and not so good outcomes. But, is it CLIL as such which is not working or the way it’s being implemented? The communicative approach works well in most language schools and… not so well in other situations due to the conditions it takes place in, eg, large groups vs small groups, fluent teachers vs not fluent teachers, participative classes vs lectures, communication vs grammar, accuracy vs fluency, trained teachers vs ….CLIL also requires certain conditions to be effective, eg, competent teachers in both L2 and content, participative lessons, appropriate materials, effective methodology… CLIL in a situation which doesn’t meet these requirements is like a fish out of the water….it will not swim! But, is there anything wrong with the fish?

  33. Off hand I can´t tell you, Jeremy, how many Spanish public schools, primary and secondary, have “bilingual Sections”, but the information is available on each of the educational websites of the various autonomic regions. I am located in Castilla y Leon.
    Aside from “secciones bilingues” you probably know that we also have “secciones linguisticas” and those form part of an agreement with the British Council. I have also had experience with these and although they work better (i.e. CLIL methodology is being used although adequate resources are lacking) than the “secciones bilingues” there are other problems associated with those. For example, some Spanish Geography and History teachers greatly resent it when
    1) a geography and history vacancy is being filled by a non-specialist and
    2) why should the history of Spain be taught in English? Would this be tolerated in the U.K. or the U.S.A.? As one of them once told me “There must be a better way to learn English”.
    But to pick up where “Borja” left off – you´re right, Borja, CLIL requires certain conditions for success. These conditions are not being met across the board in Spain. What is true is that all of the ministries of education in Spain are betting on CLIL as the method by which to achieve English-Spanish bilingualism through the schools. Unfortunately, or fortunately (hey, I´m tenured) the ministries of education need to invest on the language proficiency of a large group of teachers, and I hope they succeed.
    Back to your more theoretical concerns, Jeremy, I believe that Colin Baker pointed out the fallacies of constructs such as BICS and CALPS more than 20 or 25 years ago -not that I don´t like Jim Cummins´work, I do. As a teacher I have always found the notion of BICS and CALPS rather useful, but as a linguist I am not sure. Practitioners and theoreticians do not seem to look at the same data. I have also worked in elite international schools where the conditions for implementing sound methodology are in place, whether we call this “CLIL” or something else.

    • Hi,

      Interesting…how would you compare your experience teaching at a Spanish secondary school and at the elite international schools where it sounds like you also did some sort of CLIL? How were the conditions similar / different? And the outcomes?

    • I should have answered these comments weeks ago. I am so sorry.

      Thank you so much for this. You persuade me of two things:

      1 CLIL can work really well.
      2 It is not always transparently clear why you would want it though (Spanish history in English) and I sympathise with those Spanish history teachers.

      Yes of course Borja is right. It’s the way you administer the thing that really matters. Money. It’s always money and training.

      I am so grateful for your participation in this discussion.

      Jeremy

  34. Hi Jeremy,

    I work for a large school – the school is essentially 3 separate schools under the same ‘umbrella’. We have a language school where English and German are taught as a 2nd language – this is where I do most of my work as ‘academic’ DOS. We also have an international bi-lingual primary school and an international college (where I teach IGCSE English both as a first and second language).

    Part of my job in the language school is to observe the English team. But we are in a situation where we have CELTA qualified English teachers who are also qualified subject teachers. So, for example, one of our English teachers is also a qualified Biology and chemistry teacher. I observed this particular teacher in his ‘CLIL’ environment, he was teaching a group of mainly 2nd language speakers IGCSE Biology.

    It’s quite useful – because although I can’t comment on the actual content, I could certainly see from his clarity of instruction, the way he set up his class in groups working on tasks, the way he changed pace in the classroom and where appropriate highlighted the linguistic requirements specific to report writing (passive) that he was a great teacher.

    Our CLIL teachers are following the international GCSE syllabus and so need to focus on content. We also teach A levels, including humanities such as History, Geography and English Lit. We hold ‘cross school’ workshops – and have a dedicated team of English as a second language teachers who provide special classes in the afternoon. These teachers focus on the areas the subject teachers see are lacking, but are unable to spend time on themselves. The wonderful part is the EFL teachers are truly working with ’emergent language’ and language essential and useful to the successful completion of tasks in the subject teachers classroom.

    It seems to me, CLIL teaching works most effectively when it happens hand in hand with English (EFL) support – and general clear communication across teaching staff + regular support for staff. The content teachers do need to have a good level of English – and need to be primed to notice and note down language areas which they feel would improve their students work. Sometimes, content teachers provide us with sample scripts (from A level history) for example from the students and some model or ideal answers, we are then able to look at the students scripts and see linguistically where the gaps are – and then base our input around that.

    There are still gaps and difficulties, it is a process. I have seen a big improvement in the students English in all areas over the last 18 months – but the biggest test will be the IGCSE exams – in particular the ‘first language’ exams…..let’s see.

    • Hi Steph,

      thank you so much for your comments and the experiences you describe.

      There seems to be a consensus building up that when CLIL is ‘done properly’ it really works. And that a combination of subject specialist and English specialist is the best way of ding it.

      But how do you get the two kinds of teacher to talk to each other? They should, of course, but there is not always the spirit of cooperation is there? Not sure.

      Jeremy

  35. Pingback: Methodological madness: Dogme, CLIL and the curse of the Recency Illusion | Not another teaching blog

  36. Let’s face it, learning English is constantly repackaged. But I’m a little confused about this-Isn’t this task-based learning essentially-learning English through doing tasks, all be it through specialized language?
    I’m sure this would work for academic people, who are very self motivated. However, this could essentially lose the non-academic students very quickly. If you’re plunged straight into the deep end-I can just see mentally, students switching off. In which case, I would agree very much with the last comment. Learning a language is easier with a basic understanding in place, before learning specialist vocabulary, unless you are already at intermediate level.

  37. Ah, sorry, content based learning is the correct word, although it seems very similar in many respects to tasks based learning-presumably the students are doing tasks, in order to learn the content!
    Having reflected a little more on the previous comments, I would also think that learning using this method, concentrates the mind more (as you are not only having to learn English, but new content too), but perhaps has the disadvantage of learning English in a quite academic context-students may have difficulty speaking natural English, and sound more like university lecturers!
    However, regarding the comments that the teachers do not speak English well enough in the first place for this to work at all (a common problem is so called bilingual schools) then this is clearly problematic-and this method has no chance of succeeding therefore at all.
    I can see this style of learning being very useful to students wishing to study academically but they would need to be motivated by the content for this method to work successfully! Very motivated.

    • Hi Llanarth,

      thanks so much for your comments.

      Quite a few people here have said that teaching CLIL actually makes you (= the teacher) think more! I like the sound of that.

      You are of course right that if and when a big change like is introduced without proper backup, resources and training (e.g. language proficiency) then it is bound to be less successful than it should be.

      Jeremy

  38. Hi Llanarth ,

    I’d like to highlight 2 points.

    1. Yes, one of the key requirements for CLIL to be successful is the profile of the teachers. These teachers need to be fluent in the target language and they also need to know the content they are teaching. The same way that an EFL teacher has to be fluent in English and has to know the content he’s teaching: the English language. Being fluent might not be enough to make someone a good teacher, ideally you need to know how the language works and how the students learn it in order to teach it effectively. In many TEFL situations the target language and the content is the same: you teach English in English. In CLIL it’s not like that, you need to be also competent in the subject matter…..so ideally you need to be fluent in the target language, you need to know how the target language works and you need to know the subject matter. There are not many teachers (in Spain) with this profile although there are more every year.

    2. The English you learn in TEFL and the English you learn doing CLIL is not the same and most students need both “Englishes”. One will allow them to communicate with people socially (TEFL) whereas the other one will allow them to study, do research and work internationally (CLIL). Doing just CLIL wouldn’t be enough. CLIL should be done together with TEFL and when it’s done like that it can be very effective as both languages support each other… because they have a lot in common: grammar, pronunciation, 4 main skills, some vocabulary… You can use the past simple to talk about what you did yesterday (TEFL) but also to talk about the World Wars (CLIL), you can use the present simple to talk about daily routine (TEFL) but also to do experiments (CLIL). These are very simple examples but when you do CLIL combined with TEFL you can find lots of interesting and natural ways to integrate the 2. My experience is that students don’t find CLIL too academic, on the contrary, they enjoy learning that kind of language as well as the content.

  39. Hang on! Is TEFL and CLIL so different! Yes, at elementary level, I have personally always concentrated on communicative methods, because, after all, we want our students to communicate. But I have also taught advanced business students vocabulary, that even I have had to look up first (specialised jargon) and some very challenging texts. Isn’t it given, that as students progress from elementary to intermediate level, and from intermediate level to higher intermediate level and advanced, we our going to look for challenging texts -from business, to history, and wine tasting, to literary. My point is, is there such a barrier between the two methods. Surely TEFL teachers, should also be teaching using challenging content, and not just communicative methods?
    For me, there is no barrier. There is just intergration, and students cannot progress without the content. In which case I disagree with Borja, because surely competetent TEFL teaching should be integrating all methods available to them!

  40. Hi ,

    Thank you for your comments. I do think TEFL and CLIL have a lot in common but I also see big differences.
    Probably the main difference for me is that in TEFL the language aim goes first. Then we usually choose an appropriate topic to teach this language, eg, we want to teach present perfect so the topic might be life experiences. In CLIL the content goes first and then we select the language required so that the students can learn this content, eg, I want to teach prehistory to 11 year olds so I might have to teach cave, spears, fur…. The main aim in this CLIL lesson for me is that the students can talk and write about prehistory as well as understand texts .… using appropriate language. I will be paying attention to their ideas as well as to the language used. In the TEFL lesson the aim is that the students can use present perfect and I will not worry too much if it’s true that they have actually eaten snakes or not. I just want to hear “I have never eaten snakes”, for example. In the CLIL lesson if students say “Prehistoric people lived in flats” I will say it’s not correct. The language is right but the content is not. In fact, in some very well-known English exams students will not get marked down if the information they give is not correct as long as the language is grammatically correct. That really made me think… and worry.

    Comparing teaching prehistory with teaching present perfect are just examples but I have seen AND DONE lots of lessons whose aim was just the language… allowing the students to get by with empty sentences. I think this is OK for a while and there is nothing wrong when students talk about what they do everyday or what they would do if they found a lost puppy but doing CLIL makes English a much more interesting language and gives the teacher an opportunity to bring relevant topics to the classroom. Yes, these topics are more academic but if they are relevant the students will feel motivated. At least this has been my experience.
    Of course, TEFL teachers need some content in their language lessons, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to teach. The difference is that in the CLIL lesson we really think about the content, choosing appropriate content for the students. Content that is relevant to their age, interest and cognitive development. This last requirement is key in CLIL whereas it might not be in TEFL. I think TEFL is getting better in terms of content but how many lessons have I done on David Beckham with my teenagers? How many “What are you wearing?” lessons have I done with primary students? …when I can clearly see what everyone is wearing. I understand when you mention “I have also taught advanced business students vocabulary, that even I have had to look up first (specialised jargon) and some very challenging texts” but the fact that it is difficult doesn’t necessarily mean that is relevant to the students. I am sure in your case it was but in lots of advanced coursebooks there are really long and difficult texts which might not be relevant to the students. In CLIL you would choose a topic that is relevant to them and you would teach the language required by the topic. To summarise, I’d say that sometimes TEFL and CLIL can look very similar as in both approaches you need content and target language, however the difference could be “What IS the aim of the lesson?”

  41. Hi,
    Personally I hate TEFL lesson like this…and I think it is fundamentally wrong to teach language like this. If you are teaching language, to me, the content is also equally important. In short language and culture are meaningless without a realistic context.
    I take your point about TEFL being the language point first, I have come around to realise this is not ideal. And I always now encourage would be TEFL teachers to always put language in a realistic conversation.
    Personally I do not subscribe to the approach of any sentence is ok, as lthe long as grammar is correct. This is a shallow and short term approach.
    The content approach (if you like) is desirable in my opinion, not only to keep language learning interesting (as CLIL clearly is) but also to give the language meaning!
    I agree with your comments on TEFL books in general. The texts are often long-winded, boring, and frankly, tedioius in some cases. In many cases now, I write my own passages, or such more relevant and engaging content on the web. But, I realise the majority of TEFL teachers would not do this, or have the confidence to do this, and not think about language this deeply.
    I think my final point that I am trying to communicate, is that there fundamentally should be a difference in TEFL and CLIL. This, to me is nonense. Instead TEFL should embrace content, as well as grammar, and CLIL should embrace TEFL. Content is meaningless without looking at the language, and how it’s used, and grammar, is meaningless without content. It has been very interesting to read your comments though.

  42. Apologies for a couple of mistakes in the previous post! (search. not such)
    Perhaps there should be a discussion on how to make TEFL methodology more holistic in terms of understanding texts, engaging content, and presenting and practising the language in realistic context, with serious emphasis on content. As the comments from Borja emphasize, students are clearly motivated by a content-driven approach.

    Is TEFL methodology possibly guilty of being too simplistic?

  43. I completely agree with you when you say that the content in TEFL should be equally important but I am afraid this is not the case in most cases. As I mentioned in a previous comment, the way I look at TEFL vs CLIL is that TEFL gives you the language you need to communicate socially and therefore appropriate topics could be meeting people, talking about your childhood, your town etc This language is still important, we shouldn’t forget that. On the other hand, CLIL gives you the language you need to study, do research or work and therefore the topics will be more academic. There is no much point in learning how to talk about your childhood (TEFL) when what you need to be able to do is write a report on climate change (CLIL) but there is no point either in learning about climate change when what you need is to be able to communicate with people socially… However, nowadays most people have both needs and therefore a combination of TEFL and CLIL seems ideal to me. Maybe we should come up with a new name!
    I think TEFL is taking content more seriously and the newer books include content which is clearly more relevant. So, I don’t think TEFL is guilty of being simplistic, I would like to think it’s evolving and the same way that it’s gone through many different stages we might now be going through a more-content-please! stage.

  44. Yes, perhaps we should! TECCP ?(Teaching English for content and communicative purposes) I think at the end of the day students benefit from both!
    With the advent of the internet both are relevant and important.
    Students would be labelled both ‘bookish’ or ‘geekish’if they went to a party, and spoke in academic language, and ‘uneducated’ if they wrote (or even spoke in certain situations) as we may do down the pub.
    TEFL is often labelled simplistic in the ‘globish’ debate, possibly by Secondary school English teachers, or journalists who have a rudimentary grasp of various issues, but as in any subject, it comes down to the awareness and professionalism of the teacher. And debates such as these are good for doing precisely that-raising awareness.

  45. We seem to be drawing some interesting conclusions here. I think sometimes debates like this are essential. Thank you Jeremy. TECCP? Mmm… interesting. Last year I came up with TES (Teaching English as a Skill). The same way that our students need to be able to use the 4 main skills I think they need to be able to use English for their own purposes: socializing, studying, writing reports, writing music, using computers, attending conferences…. English seems to be everywhere now so we may as well be able to use it properly.
    In the last few years when I’ve done talks on CLIL and TEFL vs CLIL I’ve heard many TEFL teachers say things like “I will NEVER do CLIL. That is just not for me!” but when we discussed it further many of them could see that there is some common ground and that there might actually be something in CLIL that TEFL could and might want to borrow and the other way around. It’s all about adding, not subtracting or even substituting.

  46. Yes, I think we should definitely be thinking of an acronym, for an all embracing methodology, which emphasizes integration! I believe in there’s something in each methodology, but not every methodology is suitable for every students-or teacher. Therefore it makes sense to inticately weave them altogether-although in what order…and does is matter? But I agree that integrating the four skills is essential in order to effectively process language. But I really don’t understand enough about how the brain processes language-although I like to think it works very much on logic. Which why children make sure a fascinating study!

  47. Borja and Llanarth,

    I cannot say how much I appreciate the discussion that you two have had. Amazing. It is/will be really useful to anyone who stays onto this blog and wants to read up about CLIL – if they don’t know much about it.

    For my own part, I have no doubt about the wisdom/attractiveness of getting students engaged with real content – that learning a language can also be learning about the world. So I am definitely a ‘content’ person. Implementing CLIL? I think, still think, that there are big issues there in terms of subject/language tie-ups. And in educational systems working out how to deliver a CLIL curriculum.

    However, my gradual engagement with CLIL leads me to two conclusions: the first is to feel gradually more sympathetic to the aims and materials for it that I am becoming aware of. The second is to feel vaguely uneasy about the proselytizers (none of them on this blog) who promote it rather too enthusiastically!

    Thank you both so much!

    (Sorry it took me some time to come back and engage with your fabulous conversation)

    Jeremy

  48. Well thank you Jeremy for writing the blog, to engage us in discussion-I’ve really enjoyed it! I’ll be looking out for additional posts.

    Just one more thought on the definition of ‘content’. Couldn’t content equally apply to learning about the rules of chess, and playing chess for example (creating the need to ask questions and give instructions) I suppose my point is does content need to be written, or could it apply equally well to say a chemistry experiment? I have interpreted content here as been written, but there is not reason why it should be written necessarily, or is there?

  49. Uuuf….as the Spanish say! As one of the CLIL ‘insiders’, I don’t know where to start really. It’s impossible to answer everything that has been stated here, and of course, such a pretence would be a little over-ambitious/arrogant anyway – take your pick.

    But there are some fallacies flying around here, and their wings need to be clipped a little, I feel. One of the major ones is the idea, perhaps unfortunately suggested by Jeremy’s initial starter, that CLIL self-proclaims as a de facto success, and as such the approach (if it is an ‘approach’) is a ‘craze’ that is fooling people (such as Malaysia) into quick-fix solutions to their curricular issues. It is true that several of the CLIL mafia (Marsh has been quoted here) have sold the approach as a positive one, but it would be strange to do anything else. The suggestion that only CLIL folks have a ‘vested interest’ in selling themselves as efficacious is a little unfair, I feel. We’re all in it to make a living Jeremy. Also, CLIL is obviously in a phase of organic growth, during which it is undergoing ‘parameter problems’. Why? Well because everyone and his grandma wants to try it, wants a piece of it, wants to claim that they’re doing it. Some of us in the full-time CLIL warned about this, and that it would happen. I feel happy that is has come into prominence, but panicky because I feel that what I understand CLIL to be is slipping like water from my material-writing fingers – splashing onto the educational pavement and drying up in the sun. How’s that for a mixed metaphor?

    I’ve been working in CLIL full-time for over 15 years and so of course, I know that it works, but that it also requires a set of conditions in order to be minimally effective, as does any educational paradigm. Does ELT ‘work’? Well some of it does and some of it doesn’t. It’s a bit of a mess nowadays, and its eclecticism, once a virtue, has led it down a path of stagnation, I feel. I may be wrong. CLIL may offer a way out, but I’d rather not make problematic claims. The ELT-centric nature of much of this discussion is revealing. CLIL isn’t about language teaching really. It’s about education, and that’s where the ELT world so misunderstands the whole CLIL issue. Language teaching, in general, has always been ‘over there’ in educational terms. There may be intrinsic and cognitive value to learning languages, but try convincing the current generation of that argument. We have entered an extrinsic, utilitarian phase in society, and educational values are reflecting this. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. CLIL is an obvious vehicle for this type of approach. Language teaching is stumbling a little I feel, in comparison.

    CLIL is not about ‘English’ either. Reading this thread you would think it was. It’s about learning subject content through ‘another language’. English happens to dominate, sure, but CLIL is much more allied to a multilingual approach, and all the curricular and cognitive implications that it implies.

    Spain? Well for starters, Spain is a very federal place, and to talk of ‘CLIL in Spain’ is to employ a misnomer too. How would you judge its success though? Well you would judge it relative to its objectives. A country should adopt CLIL relative to its socio-linguistic reality, so that in Spain, where English (for example) is fairly absent from the public scene, CLIL gives us a chance to increase the contact time. That’s one rational objective (among others). In Holland, the judgement of ‘success’ would be based on wholly differing criteria, since everyone speaks English anyway – and English is much more present in its society. So the Dutch use CLIL to ‘fine-tune’ their academic English. It’s completely different. So please be careful with how you judge CLIL ‘success’. In the Basque Country, we have lots of empirical research-based evidence that CLIL ‘works’. What is all this nonsense about nobody knowing whether CLIL works for subject teaching? It works much better for subject teaching than it does for language teaching! But that’s another story……

    Oh, and it’s not an ‘approach either’, which is another debate. CLIL is a methodology, but that’s just my view. I’ve been trying to promulgate it for the last ten years, but one’s powers are limited, sigh. But it’s not an ‘approach’ yet. It’s too heterogeneous for that still. I would prefer it to be more limited in its scope and more prescriptive, which is what a methodology can be. But anyway, that’s for another day.

    Best
    Phil Ball

  50. Hello Phil,

    I am sorry it has taken me some time to reply to this. I have been thinking about your excellent comments, digesting them.

    First off, the drying water on the pavement! It may be a mixed metaphor, but it works for me! Brilliant.

    Anyway, there is lots to say. Yes, there was a suggestion (for which I am largely guilty), that CLIL is oversold, and that vested interests have a part to play in this. However, I DO take your well-made point about all of us having to make a living. Yes, we do things because of commitment, passion, belief etc, but other factors such as money, success etc are part of the mix too. It would be wrong of me (especially?) to cricise anyone for that.

    However, the main ‘selling’ argument for CLIL is that it is ‘better’ in some way. And that’s why the ELT-focused people get twitchy about it, of course, because if that’s true, what on earth are we doing? Is ELT in crisis? That’s a very good question but I guess if you go to the literally millions of students who study general English around the world (often in private language schools), you would have to say that it is still pretty robust.

    And, I would want to add, in a career which is getting way to long for me to feel comfortable about, I have seen some really really excellent general English teaching; engaging, challenging, effective and sheer good fun.

    However, if we ask the question ‘Is English teaching in crisis in (state) school systems? that question might get a different answer. Because the teaching of general English has not always been marked with success or student engagement. In such circumstances, teaching which encourages language acquisition and, at the same time, genuine cognitive and subject-specific child development, makes a lot of sense.

    But then Nicky Hockly (above) said she reckoned it would be ‘unmentioned’ in 10 years. Not true I hear you say! Because (and maybe your experiences in Euzkadi/Pais Vasco bear this out) where CLIL is well implemented, properly planned for, and properly trained for (and funded), then who could be against it, I guess.

    Malaysia did not abandon CLIL-type education because there was something wrong with CLIL per se. Of that I am sure. It was because kids were getting unsatisfactory subject instruction in English. The instruction was better delivered – so the argument went – in the home language, because teachers found it ‘easier’ to do that. At least that’s the way it appears to me. But then the devil is in the implementation detail. So yes, parameters.

    As I have been reading more about CLIL and, through this blog, hearing the views of others, I am more persuaded than I was of the POTENTIAL efficacy of CLIL, or indeed of the present benefits of CLIL whether in schools or in PLSs (see Borja above and Michelle Worgan’s ‘soft CLIL’ first steps http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/guest-blog-11-4-michelle-worgan-on-using-clil-with-spanish-primary-pupils). As an ELT-er, you see, CLIL IS a bit threatening. But also – and this is important I think – it sounds remarkably ‘un-new’ in the sense that content teaching has always been a feature of good ELT.

    But CLIL, real CLIL, may well be significantly different if it is properly cross curricular, involves subject teachers, has properly-trained English-language specialist (or subject teachers who have reliable competence).

    IF!

    That’s the whole thing, isn’t it. In other words, here is a way of doing things that works if certain labour-intensive, resource-and time-hungry conditions can be met.

    So that’s where I am at the moment: trying to survey the scenery, seeing great benefits and troublesome failures all in the same frame, as it were.

    Please excuse this long ramble. Writing a blog is a learning experience, mostly (I have found) for me!

    Jeremy

  51. I have just read about CLIL and it is something i have been working for the past two years, since i started working at the faculty of medicine in my state.

    Many obstacles have appeared, but i think that this is the future, or at least, a part of it.

    We always must remember the number one rule for teachers: ‘To be aware of our students needs’, following that, we should be fine.

    greetings from México!

    • Hi Abraham,

      you may be right about the ‘future’. The students’ needs should guide us.

      Of course what would be interesting is to know is what kind of English you teach in medical school. Is it CLIL, bi-lingual, or English for Specific Purposes!

      Jeremy

  52. Hi Jeremy,
    This weekend I had the pleasure to attend some of your conferences (and even get my diploma signed by you! =)) at Jalisco Mextesol. I teach Social Studies in Middle School and I have nothing else but the best to say about the experience of doing it in English. Since the purpose of the class is not the correct use of grammar but to express your ideas it makes them feel confident and they acquire the language in a more natural way. Since the subjects that I teach are complemented by EFL classes their English level skyrockets! I just wish we had more workshops/conferences, and books to support us who are doing this.

    Gaby =)

    • Hi Gaby,

      so pleased you came along to the sessions in la Perla Tapatia.

      It sounds like your situation is ideal. Is it CLIL or bilingual teaching? Are they the same or different?

      Jeremy

  53. In my short experience with young learners in Spain, I have only seen one school where students would use English in a natural way when speaking in class. It was a rather elitist school where they followed a semi-immersion education plan: children were exposed to English in a real context, on a daily basis and other subjects were also taught in the target language. CLIL is no new thing, but could actually the CLIL ‘brand’ be a way to democratise education as education authorities are starting to support it, instead of being reserved for an elite?

    • Hi Hugo,

      that’s an interesting anecdote. But of course the CLIL ‘people’ would say that teaching bilingually may not be CLIL.

      Nevertheless you ARE right that things like that may be largely reserved for an elite. It’s all about education authorities and some idea of provision for all.

      Jeremy

  54. Dear Jeremy,

    Having met you at the INTO conference this weekend, I went straight to your blog and was delighted to find so many comments on CLIL. I have to admit I have not had the time to read them all in detail – but what I have read so far has really made me think about CLIL again.

    Back to your original question – why CLIL might be better for the learning of the subject, here are a few ideas from my experience as CLIL History teacher in Germany and as academic tutor for international students in the UK:

    In CLIL classes students have to engage more with the subject. If they are put in a situation where they have to overcome some linguistic problems to understand the academic content it will motivate them to find more resources, books, texts or any other material that will help them understand the language and thus the subject. Therefore, there is more engagement, more mental construction activity and thus more learning. We could also argue that they gain problem-solving skills and develop strategies to be more independent learners. For the teacher this obviously means to plan lessons and find materials that challenge the students linguistically but that do not to overwhelm them.

    Language transports cultural ideas and thus can offer great insight through an outsider’s perspective – e.g. why do we call it the Roehm-Putsch (coup) in Germany but the British call it the Night of the long knives? What is the difference? It thus promotes the development of intercultural skills and the ability to identify with others’ perspectives. It encourages the students to think critically about their own cultural / historical perspective – which is one central aim of history teaching.

    Many subjects require great linguistic awareness – not only in terms of subject specific / technical vocabulary, but also in the way language is used to argue a point. CLIL encourages students to think about discourses and ways of constructing arguments. I also often find that teaching CLIL generates more questions and stimulates curiosity and this surely has to be good for the subject?

    With regards to the teacher’s perspective I have to agree with some of the comments made above – CLIL has certainly made me reflect much more on how I teach, what scaffolding strategies to use and how to make my lessons more engaging, thus I really feel it has a lot of benefits.

    I am, however, intrigued by your question you asked me on Saturday and that you have also posted on the blog – what is the difference between bilingual teaching and CLIL? I will certainly need to explore more and will keep on checking the comments made here…

    Many thanks for your feedback and also for this discussion forum and blog,

    Sandra

    • Hi Sandra,

      thanks so much for coming along to the blog.

      In the same way that i thought your presentation was really good – organised, clear, helpful and enjoyable – so i think your pro-CLIL arguments here are absolutely spot on. I mean if I want to be cynical about CLIL I still can be, but you have made it a lot harder!!

      (Actually I’m not sure I want to be that cynical, but I do think that the success of CLIL (in its many forms) depends on who does it, how it’s done, and what kind of training is given to the teachers who use it.)

      Once again, it was a great pleasure to meet you and see you ‘in action’. I hope ot happens again!

      Jeremy

  55. Hi Jeremy,
    I’ve just read the article.I’m a Turk and have been working as a teacher.As far as I know,CLIL is an old method.In Turkey it’s been implemented for years.I learnt English at 11 and after learning English,we used to study maths and science lessons in English,too.My English was good but I hated Maths and Science in English. I was brilliant at Maths at primary school but our proficient(!) teachers made me disgust from these subjects.They did not know English and try to teach us these subjects.It was such a nightmare.This is not the only reason for this failure.Then the authorities saw their mistake and changed the system at secondary schools.But this system continues at universities.I think these subjects should teach in mother tongue,otherwise people know what happens!I can write a thesis about this method and tell how this method make people feel stupid in many subjects.That’s my point of view.

  56. Hi, my husband is a CLIL language assistant at 2 schools in Tenerife. He had a shock this morning when he was served with a summon from Securidad Social asking him to present facturas he doesn’t have as he gpes on ‘baja’ for the Summer months as he is Autonomo.
    He contacted the consejeria and he is not the only one served. It appears that he should have a contract as he has worked for them for 5 years. The office did not have a clue what is going on and we are now panicking in case the job goes. Does any one know anything about what is happening or what to do???

  57. It is a pity I missed out this wonderful debate. I hope I’m still on time for someone to read my post.
    I’m a teacher of English at Secondary level in State school system in Spain. I’ve been involved in CLIL for something like 7 years now, as a teacher trainer, as an adviser (so to speak) and as a teacher. I have seen CLIL being implemented in very different contexts and I would definitely say it does work, both for content and for language.
    We would have to talk about what parameter do I have in mind to assert CLIL works. And that is precisely where I would like to make my point: would it be the bare communicative competence of students at the end of what, Secondary Education? Not enough to see that in the context where I teach, at least. But if we still wanted to do it, what would we compare it to? The previous competence in the same context, or students from say Germany? What about including other parameters too.
    Say, for instance, the emotional side of the learning: would CLIL students feel more confident about their English (whatever it is) than before? Would they think their learning has been more relevant? Would the teacher-student rapport change and would this affect their attitude towards learning?
    My point is THAT there is more to this topic than just the language and the content. We should be even talking about what do we consider learning, and what’s the role of the teacher and the learners. Maybe the foregin language (and the content, if I may say so) is just one of the many ingredients of CLIL (and I’m not really sure if it is the main one). If we have a look at the core clil activators (http://www.kke.ee/clil/eng/index.html maybe too catchy a name) we would all probably agree that they are all present in any good type of teaching, even in ELT.

  58. Hello Sergio. Like you I have come late to this very stimulating debate. Also like you I am working in Spain (12 years in CLIL contexts). My point to add to this debate is the need for a systematic approach which will ensure success and on the basis of this success CLILwill gain respectable momentum. Here in Spain it is only working well where training in language and content cooincide and CLIL theory is put into best practice in a systematic top down manner where the regional powers that be and the senior managements of schools understand the demands and benefits of CLIL and can lead their schools properly to achieve true language/content learning.
    Apart from good teaching CLIL needs clever planning and thorough and appropriate assessments.; for example, the allocation of a 60% subject and 40% language proportion to the planning and that same proportion to the assessment process immediately guides the activity in the classroom, focusses the mind set of the teacher and redirects the motivation of the child to get a good grade in both areas. In making this decision and putting it into a high quality planning/teaching/assessment model we have immediately constructed a systematic base which a whole school can use.
    The current mixed messages about the efficacy of CLIL can be blamed on poverty of experience rather than inherent weakness of pedagogy.There is so much about CLIL which we need to know and understand and there is much about CLIL yet to be discovered. The more we read, research and understand, the more able we are to make informed judgements and implementations to benefit the education of our young people. .

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