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CLIL policy and practice: an invitation-only policy workshop to draft a new strategy for CLIL in Europe

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The British Council has convened an invitation-only policy workshop to draft a new strategy for CLIL in Europe, to take place on 10-12 March 2014 by Lake Como. With support from ministries of education and sector specialists throughout Europe, the key objective of the gathering is to draft a set of recommendations for the European Commission.


How would you react if you had to study at least one of your core subjects in a foreign language? What implications might that have for the content accessed and the assessment of learning? Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is still considered an innovative approach and it is certainly one that encourages those who come into contact with it to step out of their comfort zone. CLIL’s most iconic and thought-provoking phrase, ‘using languages to learn and learning to use languages’ supports a competence-based framework for education. With CLIL we can exploit practically all of the 8 key competences for lifelong learning that the European Commission listed in 2007, including cultural awareness and expression; communication in foreign languages; and learning to learn [EACEA/Eurydice (2012) Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012]. This makes it a serious contender for educational policy reform. At this pivotal time in educational history, will CLIL be taken seriously and granted the resourcing necessary to make a success of it?

Improving the outcomes of education and training by investing in competence-based approaches in general – and promoting language skills in particular – are prerequisites to achieving the European Commission (EC) goal of fostering growth, creating jobs, promoting employability and increasing competitiveness. This can only take place if we provide an appropriate educational environment to cater for the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly multilingual society. To achieve these outcomes, we cannot depend on traditional monolingual curricula. There is an obvious need for more innovative methods in education within the framework of a competence-based multilingual approach: cue CLIL.

The ambition to produce a series of recommendations on competence-based learning for the European Commission is timely for at least three reasons. On a European level with the recent completion of the flagship Lifelong Learning programme (2006-2013) and the ongoing importance of the Europe 2020 growth-strategy initiative; and also on a local level. From 2014 a law has come into force in Italy which requires final year college (licei) pupils to receive at least one of their school subjects in the medium of a foreign language with CLIL. Such a mandate has fuelled ongoing discussion amongst stakeholders about the benefits and drawbacks of such a policy. If CLIL is truly the way forward for education systems in Europe, then how best can we support it? What are the crucial elements of support to any such policy and what about a list of desiderata? The debate will be opened up during the symposium through twitter: join in on #CLILeurope.

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