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Under one roof: considerations on integrating content and language

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This plenary reviews the CLIL approach and considers ten characteristics of it and how they can be applied.

Aleksandra Zaparucha
4 April, 2019 - 09:00 Europe/London
60 minutes

About the talk

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) describes an approach to teaching non-linguistic subjects, like Physics or History, through an additional language. Since the term was coined in the mid-1990s, it has been gaining popularity, mainly in Europe but also elsewhere. Thus, it is time to review CLIL and see what it has to offer.

First of all, although the term suggests there are two entities to be combined, this dichotomy of content and language has never in fact existed. There is no content without the language and no language without the content. Does this mean subject teachers should be allowed to teach through the language that is not native neither to them nor to their students? What are their credentials? And how is CLIL different from other forms of merging subjects with languages, such as English Medium Instruction?

Once these issues have been addressed, I look at ten characteristics of CLIL, arguing they should be adopted to any other situation where content and language are integrated, be it at primary, secondary or tertiary education level. The most important notion would be that every CLIL lesson should adequately 'tune in' the procedure through which the relevant content is offered to students. Ignoring it would mean the whole CLIL structure is lacking an indispensable element which, like a bridge, joins the language and the non-linguistic content.

Finally, you might be asking yourself: What is there for me, an EFL/ESL teacher? Why and how can I bring the real school curriculum to my classroom? Am I qualified to teach about gases, volcanoes or chemical bonds? With these questions in mind, come to my talk and I will try to convince you CLIL is here to stay and both you and your students can benefit from getting involved.