What is CLIL?

As CLIL expert David Marsh explains it, “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.” (2002, p. 2, emphasis added). It could be said that, in essence, CLIL is about killing two birds with one stone. Marsh explains that this provides added value and efficiency for both the students and the institutions offering CLIL courses (2002, p. 175).

 

CLIL is taking place and has been found to be effective in all sectors of education from primary through to adult and higher education. Its success has been growing over the past 10 years and continues to do so.

European Commission (2012)

Despite the potential for CLIL to offer educational gains in two distinct areas (language and content) it is not merely a cost-cutting or bureaucratic imposition on teaching practice. In many ways, CLIL offers greater challenges, to teachers and students alike. Language teachers and content teachers must work together in collaboration and share their skills. It is rare for teachers to be experienced and qualified as both language and content teachers at the same time. Also, for students, the dual-focus of the CLIL class means that the workload can be very demanding at times. Despite this, CLIL has been found to be extremely successful in achieving its dual aims in programs around the world. It can be more challenging, but at the same time more motivating and authentic for students and teachers (Marsh, 2002, p. 72).

The European Commission for Languages stated on its website that “Owing to its effectiveness and ability to motivate learners, CLIL is identified as a priority area in the Action plan for Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity”(European Commission). The growing interest in CLIL not only in Europe but also worldwide, such as here in Japan, has meant an exponential growth in conferences, workshops, publications and research funding.

References

European Commission (2012) “Content and Language Integrated Learning” European Commission for Languages, Retrieved 09 Jun. 2012 from http://ec.europa.eu/languages/language-teaching/content-and-language-integrated-learning_en.htm

Marsh, David. (2002) LIL/EMILE –The European Dimension: Actions, trends and foresight potential. Public services Contract EG EAC. Strasbourg: European Commission.