Reported by Graham Mackenzie

As a part of a CLIL Materials Development Research Project supported by Kyokasho Kenkyuu Centre, we were very fortunate to be able to welcome Education Consultant and CLIL specialist Rosie Tanner to Tokyo for a series of informative workshops on CLIL for elementary, junior high and senior high school teachers at the beginning of August, with the purpose of discussing and demonstrating how CLIL could be applied in English language education in Japan.

  1. Learning Dialogically through a CLIL Approach 

On Monday the 1st of August, around 115 elementary and junior high school teachers gathered at Shirayuri University for this event. The first speaker was Chantal Hemmi of Sophia University, who gave the audience an overview of the fundamental theories and principles of CLIL, before going onto practically explain how CLIL could be applied in elementary English education through the use of storytelling, which she emphasized is an effective medium for stimulating the imagination of learners and presenting culturally rich content. Related to this, Rosie Tanner then gave the group a demonstration of CLIL activities that teachers can use with storytelling, using the example of “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. The activities Rosie demonstrated were very interactive and engaging, such as saying the missing words in the story or arranging picture cards from the story in order. Rosie emphasized how a focus on the use of language and meaning rather than the study of the language itself can foster positive attitudes to language learning in young learners.

In the afternoon, two separate sessions were held twice simultaneously so that participants in smaller numbers could experience CLIL demo lessons for elementary and junior high schools. In the elementary demo lesson presentation, Tomoko Yokoyama and Chantal Hemmi demonstrated how they conducted CLIL lessons on the Olympics and Paralympics using both English and Japanese. To break the ice, Chantal first started the session with a ‘Hello song’ followed by an Olympics quiz which was used in a joint lesson taught by the two teachers at Tatsunuma Elementary School in October 2017. The quiz was conducted to activate student interest and find out what they know about the content and language related to the Olympics, sportsmanship and Olympism.

In the latter part of the presentation, Tomoko presented what she had taught her class of 30 9-10 year old children about the Olympics in her General Studies classes using Japanese.  She used graphics and video to make her lessons multimodal in order to activate student interest and deepen their understanding about the Olympic games. The children learnt that Olympism is not just about competition but participation in sport, and individual differences were to be embraced. Lastly, Tomoko presented three video clips of children making presentations based on the target structures learnt in a jointly taught lesson with Chantal; ‘I am ~. I like ~. I can ~. Nice to meet you.’ was the language they learnt. Tomoko explained how the children were enthused and motivated by the activity.

The session encapsulated how the children’s L1 can be used effectively to deepen understanding of the content, and how the children used what they learnt both in the Japanese and English sessions in order to process an end task which was to make a presentation about what they like and can do.

In the junior high school demo lesson presentation, Graham Mackenzie of Sophia University demonstrated a series of lessons for second year students on the topic of schools around the world. Graham demonstrated how content and language can be integrated in the four main stages of the lesson as follows.


Content Language
Flags and location of 9 countries around the world

Pictures of school classrooms in those countries.

Names of countries and continents.

there is/there are to describe and compare the classrooms.

Rules in our school must/mustn’t, have to/don’t have to, can/can’t.

clean the classroom, run in the corridor etc.

Video made by two students from Scotland about their school rules, facilities and subjects. As in the video.
Students prepare and make a presentation about their ideal school. Language recycled from the above and generated by students.


This demo lesson demonstrated how even with low level learners and even in line with a grammar curriculum, content can be integrated into language lessons to make the lessons more engaging and meaningful for the students. Also, by incorporating pictures, video, written text and content created by the students themselves it was shown that multimodal input, as an important aspect of CLIL, is another effective way to maintain student engagement as well as to recycle target language.

The final part of the event was a Q and A session with all presenters on the panel. Questions for the panel included how to implement CLIL at lower years in elementary school. The panel again emphasized the usefulness of stories and songs at this level to teach language and content together. In general, the panel stressed that more important than adhering to any particular methodology was to make sure students were engaged fully in lessons, with a positive attitude about learning English. It was noted that learning language and content at the same time may be one of the most effective ways to do this.

Overall, the event was a great insight into the possibilities of CLIL in elementary and junior high schools in Japan. It was wonderful to see so many enthusiastic school teachers so interested in this.


  1. CLIL Workshops for Junior and Senior High School Teachers.

Two more events were held at Sophia University in the form of workshops on CLIL for junior high school teachers on Friday the 4th of August, and senior high school teachers on Saturday the 5th of August. On the 4th there were 41 and on the 5th ,45 participants from around Japan, including Osaka, Aichi and Okinawa as well as from Singapore.

Rosie began these workshops by giving an overview or revision of key concepts and important characteristics of CLIL, such as hard and soft CLIL, activating, and lower/higher order thinking skills, referring to the revised Bloom’s taxonomy (Anderson and Krathol, 2001). This was done in the form of a quiz rather than a lecture so it was engaging and collaborative. Participants then reflected on their current practice and the extent to which they currently incorporate characteristics of CLIL by completing Rosie’s “How CLIL are you?” questionnaire.

In the second part of the workshops, Rosie demonstrated how CLIL activities could be incorporated into lessons based on state designated textbooks for junior and senior high. She showed how the topics and readings in the textbooks could be used to engage students further in a number of ways, including the following:

  • communicative activities for activating
  • jigsaw reading of texts
  • information gap activities using gapped texts
  • predicting and listening for content in videos on YouTube
  • communicative game for collocations
  • “experts” jigsaw activity for longer videos
  • discussion board game.

Finally, participants chose one of the demonstrated activities and prepared their own versions of them to teach to another group of participants, allowing them to practically experience how CLIL activities could be incorporated into their lessons.

Overall, the workshops were very lively, practical and well-received by participants as the below comments show.

  • “It was really fun and fruitful to learn about CLIL through the actual activities”
  • “It was a great workshop – very informative and instructive”
  • “We could also get lots of ideas from each other”

Many thanks to Rosie for coming to Japan and sharing her expertise with us, and many thanks to all the attendees for helping to make the events so lively and productive! It was especially helpful that Rosie had customized the workshop for Japanese educational contexts, referring to existing state designated textbooks. All in all, we learnt that CLIL can be used in different curricula, either partially or fully, depending on the aims of each institution and course. CLIL is certainly an approach which could be employed to make our lessons dialogic, encouraging students to think deeply, and also to use the language actively through tasks that are suitable at different cognitive and linguistic levels.


Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds..) (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group)





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