Monday, May 14, 2018

Have Some Fun in Language Teaching with CLIL!

Have Some Fun in Language Teaching with CLIL!
By Zihan Geng
Have you ever heard complaints from your students about how boring learning a second/foreign language is?
“I hate memorizing grammar and vocabulary!” That is probably what most language learners say.
But do we have a better way to teach a language? The answer is YES!
Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is “a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language” (Coyle, Hood, & March, 2010, p.1). In other words, in CLIL classrooms, the subjects are taught to the students in a second/foreign language.
For example, in a CLIL class of Chinese students, biology could be taught in English.
Research has shown that CLIL could foster students’ language learning without impeding content gains. Additionally, CLIL students could develop the new language naturally by listening to the lecture, discussing subjects, and completing assignments.
But you may ask, “how do we implement CLIL in our classroom teaching?” In this post, I will introduce the 4Cs model proposed by Coyle et al. (2010) for a successful CLIL implementation.
In CLIL, content not only refers to the knowledge the students need to acquire, but more importantly, considers the skills as well as the understanding. The final goal is to have the students to be able to construct their own knowledge and skills by building upon the acquired knowledge.
But how do we achieve that?
Discussions and follow-up assignments could be great opportunities for the students to digest and construct the newly learned content. If you are looking for some strategies for a good discussion, you may want to try this video Strategies for student centered discussion (classroom demonstration).
When the students enter the classroom, they bring their own cultures into the class. It is very important to create a multicultural classroom. That way, the class could be open to alternative perspectives. When we incorporate culture into our teaching, we need to make sure our students could actually “feel” different cultures by themselves.
An example would be a multicultural “fashion show”. Each student will be assigned to a specific culture, which they need to explore after class. On the “fashion show” day they need to wear the traditional clothes of that culture. They also need to briefly explain the meaning behind the clothes.
You can find some tips for celebrating diversity in the classroom here.
Cognition, here, refers to higher order of thinking. It links concept formation, understanding, and language development. Teaching thinking skills is one of the main points in CLIL.
For example, Science experiments could be perfect tools for students to discover, to think, and to enjoy learning.
Teachers could either pre-teach the important concept or let the students discover it. But don’t forget to provide guidance and scaffolding!
Communication is the key for language development. In a CLIL classroom setting, students are expected to use the target language to communicate.
Remember, your role should not be a language instructor but a guide or a facilitator!
We need to encourage our students to talk and use the language. Not just memorize or parrot it!
There are multiple ways to promote speaking in a CLIL classroom. For example, in the chemistry class, one student could describe the element and the other student could guess it.
However, as they are learning the new language, we should be always ready to provide help during these activities.
Previous studies have shown that CLIL could help students learn a second/foreign language without impeding content gains. Understanding the 4Cs framework presented here is a good start for a successful implementation of CLIL.  

After reading the 4Cs framework, do you feel more confident to implement CLIL in your classroom? Bring CLIL into your classroom! You’ll see how interesting and different language teaching could be!

Brewster, J. (n.d.). Thinking skills for CLIL [Blog post]. Retrived from
Coyle, D., Hood, P. and Marsh, D. (2010). Content and language integrated learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Levin, V. (n.d.). Celebrating diversity in the classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Papaja, K. (2013). The role of a teacher in a CLIL classroom. Glottodidactica. An International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 40(1), 147-153.
[Teresa A Thompson]. (2014, March 25). Strategies for student centered discussion [Video File]. Retrieved from

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