What is CLIL?
CLIL aims to
introduce students to new ideas and concepts in traditional
curriculum subjects (often the humanities), using the foreign
language as the medium of communication - in other words, to
enhance the pupils' learning experience by exploiting the synergies
between the two subjects. This is often particularly rewarding
where there is a direct overlap between the foreign language and
the content subject — eg Vichy France, Nazi Germany, the Spanish
How does the CLIL approach benefit
Although it may take a while for pupils to acclimatise to the
challenges of CLIL, once they are familiar with the new way of
working, demonstrably increased motivation and focus make it
possible (and likely) that they will progress at faster-than-usual
rates in the content subject, providing that the principles of CLIL
teaching are borne in mind during planning and delivery. CLIL aims
to improve performance in both the content subject and the foreign
language. Research indicates there should be no detrimental effects
for the CLIL pupils (and often progress is demonstrably
Other advantages include:
- stronger links with the citizenship curriculum (particularly
through the use of authentic materials, which offer an alternative
perspective on a variety of issues)
- increased student awareness of the value of transferable skills
- greater pupil confidence.
What are the practical implications of
introducing CLIL into the school curriculum?
The content subject should always be the primary focus of any
materials used in the CLIL classroom. CLIL should not be used as an
opportunity to use texts as glorified vocabulary lists, or to
revise concepts already studied in the mother tongue. However, it
is impossible to transfer existing content subject lesson plans
across without modifying these to take into account pupils' ability
in the target language, and therefore the planning process is
vital. It is likely that, especially to begin with, lessons will
need to be challenging cognitively, with comparatively light
linguistic demands. Schools need to design materials to suit the
needs of their learners, and to enable them to develop until they
are working at high levels of cognitive and linguistic
What is the best approach to CLIL
The diversity of CLIL activity in UK schools is striking. It is not
possible to generalise to any extent about the subjects chosen, the
type of school pioneering such approaches, nor the ability of the
learners chosen to participate. The predominant language of the
projects is French, although a number of projects are operating in
German or Spanish. It appears, then, that no approach to CLIL can
be set in stone. One of the purposes of the Content and Language
Integration Project is to compare the outcomes of different
approaches in a variety of different schools.
What about staffing?
Although availability of CLIL-trained teachers is limited,
preliminary research carried out by CILT indicates that schools
have adopted a wide variety of different approaches to staffing,
from non-native speaker linguists with no specialist content
subject knowledge, to native speaker subject content specialists,
and every possible permutation in between. CILT's evidence suggests
that CLIL teaching is frequently delivered through a combination of
solo and team-teaching, often supplemented by collaboration between
departments in non-contact time.
How do schools tackle timetabling
CILT research revealed a range of different approaches to
timetabling CLIL, from isolated lessons over the school year and
'bilingual days', to modules and even occasionally a whole year's
commitment. Many schools are starting to combine such work with
class visits and/or partnerships with link schools abroad. Some
schools choose to launch fast-track GCSE foreign language courses
in Years 8, 9 and 10, after an initial diagnostic period. These run
alongside lessons where the foreign language learning is integrated
with another curriculum subject. See also organisational issues.
What about national accreditation for
courses and modules taught in this way?
There is currently no formal accreditation for bilingual work in
the UK. This in part explains the preponderance of KS3 initiatives
in the case studies that CILT is monitoring.
Where can I learn more?
Developed with funding
from the European Union, this site offers a comprehensive guide to
different CLIL methodologies, and links to a number of European
This network aims to actively promote exchanges of information,
experience and materials between the different categories of
players in the field of content and language integrated teaching as
well as promoting their interests at a national and European
- CLIL Axis
This project presents best practice examples of Team Teaching as a
CLIL method in the world of professional education and work. The
target groups are vocational educators who teach content through a
foreign language, language teachers, and working life
representatives who co-operate in the planning and implementation
of educational programmes.
A web-based CLIL quality matrix, which shows core quality factors
required for successful implementation of teaching and learning
through a foreign language.
Sources of authentic materials
A teacher's compilation of sites of
materials created for Geography, History and Education Civique in
LeMO (Lebendiges virtuelles
Resources for various periods of German history, including
summaries of issues and periods, and audio and video streaming.
A German site with extensive links to materials in German across
the curriculum, together with a section on materials and advice for
Another German site devoted to bilingual
teaching; although biased towards CLIL in English, many of the
links are to materials of use in the German CLIL classroom.