Following on from the success for the 2016 Symposium, CLIL in a Plurilingual Community of Practice returned with more speakers and demonstration lessons to talk about how CLIL can be implemented as an approach in Japan for foreign language learning. This year’s symposium featured demo lessons in English, French and Chinese, as well as talks about materials and techniques and language policy. There were over one hundred attendees and there was enthusiastic discussion from the participants.

Following the welcome speeches by organisers Yoshimi Hiroyasu, Chantal Hemmi and Akiko Masaki, the first plenary session was given by Makoto Ikeda, who spoke about CLIL Principles, Materials And Techniques In Diverse Contexts. Professor Ikeda talked about these three issues in turn, stressing always the practical side and giving clear examples of how these aspects are implemented. After outlining the position of CLIL in ELT methodologies and explaining the different types of CLIL programme (such as soft CLIL, light CLIL and bilingual CLIL – see Ikeda 2012), he also discussed the ELT-CLIL-EMI continuum (Ikeda 2016).


Professor Ikeda discussed the role of authenticity in CLIL, which he highlighted by showing various CLIL teaching materials from textbooks and handouts, and connecting them with both Lower and Higher-Order Thinking Skills. This led onto a discussion of tasks, which was demonstrated with a range of videos from observed classes in Europe and teacher training DVDs. The overall structure of Professor Ikeda’s talk was to present the theory, and then show how these concepts are actually put into practice through tasks, materials and classroom interactions.

Following this, Professor Emi Fukasawa then gave the audience an insight into her own teaching with an intimate account of her Elementary level students at Sophia’s Centre for Language Education and Research (CLER). The focus of the demo lesson was on niche marketing, and Professor Fukasawa clearly demonstrated how CLIL can be implemented even with low-level proficiency learners. Her materials were self-authored, and Professor Fukasawa showed how content that is familiar to students can be adapted as authentic materials (such as the Aigan for Yu bath glasses) as well as less familiar content, such as the Pilipino fast-food chain of restaurants, Jollybee.


After a short break, Dr Lisa Fairbrother from Sophia’s Faculty of Foreign Studies gave a talk on Language Policy in Education as a Process. Like Professor Ikeda, Dr Fairbrother spoke in Japanese but used English on her slides, which was an example of what Garcia and Wei would call translanguaging; an important aspect of many CLIL classrooms and other bilingual approaches. Dr Fairbrother spoke about Micro, Meso and Macro-levels of language planning, and how these levels interact as language programs unfurl as a dynamic process. Without laying any blame, Dr Fairbrother was able to holistically evaluate the implementation of Japan’s foreign language policy (Macro-level), and explain how these are important considerations for teachers and learners at the Meso and Micro levels of implementation. For me, this talk was fascinating as I found it empowering to know how the things that I control in my classroom interact with these much wider policies. Dr Fairbrother’s emphasis was of course on evaluation and review, in other words making sure that the policies work and ensuring that the management cycle is one which works towards the benefit of all stakeholders.

Following Dr Fairbrother’s talk, we were treated to two demo lessons. The first, in French, was given by Professor Ayako Kitamura, in which participants used simple expressions to learn about artists, their most famous works and their province of origin. Personally, this was one of the most enjoyable high-points for me as I love French and I love art, so it was very enjoyable to be able to learn about them both together.

Afterwards, Professor Zhang Tong gave us a detailed explanation of her Chinese intermediate class, in which she uses authentic materials such as videos and statistics, in order to provide her students with talking points and to supplement her textbooks. She stressed the importance of involving the students in a process of negotiation when selecting and adapting authentic content. This seemed to have much in common with what I have previously called The Living Textbook (Pinner 2016). In other words, authentic content needs to be negotiated and tailored for each class based on their needs and interests, something that Dr Fairbrother also picked up on during the panel discussion.

At the end, all the speakers gathered together for a panel discussion and Q&A session. Some of the topics discussed were the use of the L1 or mother tongue in order to scaffold and facilitate understanding, the balance between Higher and Lower-order thinking skills (HOTS and LOTS). Also, the issue of negotiating content and getting feedback on what’s working and what’s not working were highlighted as important.

Overall, the symposium was another great success. All the participants were given insights into how multilingual education looks in both theory and practice. Each speaker gave relevant information and managed to combine theory with practical examples that made it easy to follow. I would like to extend my gratitude to the organising committee for all their hard work in putting together today’s symposium, as well as each speaker for their insightful talks, and of course the many participants who attended the talk and made it such a lively forum for discussing CLIL in a plurilingual community of practice.


Ikeda, M. (2012). CLILの原理と指導法 [Principles and methodologies of CLIL]. In S. Izumi, M. Ikeda & Y. Watanabe (Eds.), CLIL: New Challenges in Foreign Language Education at Sophia University (Vol. 2: Practices and Applications, pp. 1-15). Tokyo: Sophia University Press.

Ikeda, M. (2016). CLIL活用の新コンセプトと新ツール [CLIL’s utilization of new tools and concepts]. In M. Ikeda, Y. Watanabe & S. Izumi (Eds.), CLIL: New Challenges in Foreign Language Education at Sophia University (Vol. 3: Lessons and Materials, pp. 1-29). Tokyo: Sophia University Press.

Pinner, R. S. (2016). Reconceptualising Authenticity for English as a Global Language. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

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