If you’re raising your eyebrow in arched confusion right now, wondering what on earth CLIL is, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. What that means in real life is learning another (content) subject such as physics or geography through the medium of a foreign language as well as learning a foreign language by studying a content-based subject. In short, content subjects are taught and learned in a language which is not the mother tongue of the learners.
So why is CLIL important?
In CLIL lessons, the foreign language becomes the means of learning content. Students feel more motivated to learn the language because they are actually doing something with it, rather than dealing in some of the rather tired phrases and topics that old-fashioned language lessons tend to turn up. The focus is on language acquisition rather than enforced learning, i.e. building up language competency through using it to explore and discuss curriculum topics, leading to more natural and sophisticated communicative skills over time.
CLIL helps with:
- Improving overall and specific language competence.
- Preparing for future studies and/or working life.
- Developing multilingual interests and attitudes.
- Diversifying methods & forms of classroom teaching and learning.
- Increasing learner motivation.
- Integrating language into the broader curriculum.
- Long-term learning: students become academically proficient in a language after 5-7 years in a good bilingual program. This is because CLIL focuses on fluency rather than accuracy, treating errors as a natural part of language learning.
- Introducing a wider cultural context to content lessons
- Accessing International Certification and enhancing the school profile.
There are other advantages too, which extend outside the classroom, making CLIL relevant within a global context.
The rise of the global economy means different countries interact with each other on a daily basis. Even with English as the main language, there is often a need for communicative skills in a second or third language. Besides, some countries have very strict policies regarding the use of regional languages within their borders.
Learning and knowing other languages often promotes feelings of trust and helps in better communication. It’s one of the reasons why the European Commission has been looking into the state of bilingualism and language education since the 1990s, and has a clear vision of a multilingual Europe in which people can function in two or three languages.
Interested in knowing more about CLIL? We are happy to help. We just won the BETT award for our CLIL digital resources and we’re feeling even more inspired than usual to promote all things Content and Language Integrated Learning.
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