"This approach is a breath of fresh air the kids respond really well to."
What is CLIL?
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a competence-based teaching approach that is gaining ground in European education systems. The idea is to teach both the subject and the language, and is captured in the phrase "using language to learn, learning to use language.". CLIL encourages the use of curricula which promote the right interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity and communication and language abilities which are in demand by today’s employers.
The British Council’s work with CLIL
The British Council has substantial experience in training CLIL practitioners around the world, as well as in running bilingual education programmes in a number of countries. The British Council has almost 20 years of experience in bilingual education work, which adopts a whole-school approach to using a foreign language. Learners typically receive between 25-40 per cent of their school curriculum in the target language. You can find more detail about our work in bilingual education in the case studies below.
Towards a new strategy for CLIL in Europe
The British Council held a CLIL policy dialogue, CLIL Policy and Practice: Competence-based education for employability, mobility and growth, from 10-12 March in Italy. The event brought together government officials, influencers, education-based consultants, publishers and managers, with the aim of producing a new draft strategy for CLIL in Europe. Delegates discussed EU educational policy in the light of changing labour patterns and greater demands for a skilled, multilingual workforce.
Topics also discussed included the design of curricula which integrate CLIL approaches and methods, the reconfiguration of assessment procedures and the establishment of relevant training parameters. A draft set of recommendations based on conclusions drawn at the event is available below. You will also find links to some videos of experts addressing some key questions during the event.
Following the conference, Italian Minister of Education, Stefania Giannini, said: "This Conference has looked at the issues of good governance and quality education for Content and Language Integrated Learning. Quality education has long been at the heart of reforms in education in most countries, and we all know how important education is to us Europeans and for the future success of Europe. Good governance that focuses on democratic participation is essential in educational institutions at all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary education – in order to provide proper skills and qualifications for all students to cope in life."
Bilingual education in Spain
In Spain a partnership with the Spanish Ministry of Education in 1996 has resulted in 80,000 bilingual learners to date. The Ministry says of the joint programme run with the British Council that it "has proved to be very successful and innovative, increasingly raising students' fluency in English."
Bilingual education in Italy
In Italy a similar model was adapted in 2009 under which 2100 learners have benefitted from receiving a bilingual education at primary school and 55 teachers have received ongoing training and support from the British Council. Parents who speak English with their children particularly like the fact that their children have been developing their literacy skills in both languages. One mother said, and many others agree, that the modern interdisciplinary approach “is a breath of fresh air the kids respond really well to”.
Bilingual education in Portugal
Portugal has also started up a bilingual education programme. The British Council and the curriculum department of the Ministry of Education (DGE) are running for the third year a pilot Bilingual Schools project in seven school clusters across the country. The pilot began in September 2011 and is now in its third year.
The project includes 8 accredited training courses for primary teachers and English teachers, enabling them to teach part of the estudo do meio (natural and social sciences) curriculum and expressões (arts and crafts). British Council trainers and representatives from DGE and the Regional Directorates of Education visit the schools at least once per term to give demonstration lessons, observe lessons and provide feedback.
- Video: Is it easier to train language teachers than language teachers who are not fluent?
- Video: What can CLIL contribute to standard language learning?
- Podcast: CLIL as a methodology within schools (Phil Ball, Federation of Basque Schools)
- Webinar: Keith Kelly - Ingredients for successful CLIL
- Publication: British Council regional policy dialogues (available to download below)
- Publication: Policy recommendations from the March 2014 conference on Content and Language Integrated Learning (available to download below)