Does CLIL (content and language integrated learning) need its own methodology?

Essay, 2011

9 Pages, Grade: 2


Does CLIL need its own methodology?

The concept of bilingual instruction in Germany has started with school subjects in French in 1963 as a result of the "Elysée- Vertrag": France and Germany wanted to realize their political agreement of peace and friendship through cultural approximation on the societal level which became known as the Franco-German Friendship Treaty, and as a result, schools such as the "deutsch-französische Gymnasien" or "Lycées franco-allemands" were established in both countries.

By 1987, the number of these schools had increased to 25. It is important to underline the fact that the beginning of bilingual instruction in Germany is very closely related to the use of French, rather than English, as a classroom language (Wolff 2007).

The reason for using especially English for content and language integrated learning (CLIL) nowadays is its function as the global "lingua franca" which means that English is used in such areas as traveling, business, economy, science and entertainment by both native and non-native speakers of English to enable communication with speakers of different languages. Germany holds more than 800 schools that offer CLIL in different modern languages, especially English, whereas North Rhine-Westphalia is the German leader in the field of CLIL: in the year 2006, it had 162 English CLIL schools, 23 schools with French CLIL and 15 schools with other languages such as Italian, Modern Greek, Russian, Spanish and Dutch (Wolff 2007).

Since CLIL is special because it means teaching a content subject through a foreign language, one expects to find a curriculum specially designed for CLIL but surprisingly it is not the case as illustrated by Dieter Wolff: "Beyond the usual formal instructions, only a few of the Länder have ministerial instructions setting out a curriculum." In this case, North Rhine-Westphalia leads again since it has developed so called "recommendations" that are similar to curricula in their structure and that concern most content subjects taught in the foreign language. Additionally, „[a]ll of the recommendations have a comprehensive appendix containing teaching aids for the specialist language used in the subjects, examples of sequences of lessons, and other materials“ (Wolff 2007). Besides that, the German curriculum for the content subject is the basis for the bilingual recommendation. The development of the students' ability to use and correctly understand specialist terminology in both languages is emphasized since "[t]he discrepancy between the cognitive and the linguistic abilities of the learner is deemed the central problem in bilingual teaching of specialised subjects" (Wolff 2007). This discrepancy indicates that students may be able to know about a phenomenon cognitively but may not know the word for it either in their mother tongue or in the target language, or they might know the word for a phenomenon linguistically in both languages but might not know what concept hides behind the word cognitively.

Additionally, the recommendations contain the demand that not only subject specific knowledge should be provided in CLIL classes but "it must also include the sort of more general skills needed in all subjects. These include the use of images, graphs and tables" whose specialist terminology should be learned in foreign language classes according to Dieter Wolff (Wolff 2007). Another emphasis lies on textual work and on the ability to read and write about the subject in the foreign language.

Another important feature of CLIL is its advancement of intercultural lerning that needs a structural development since it constitutes a chance to change one's point of view on a topic, to see one's own country or even oneself from the perspective of other countries and to look at other nations from their own perspective. Therefore, a special competence is developed through CLIL that is known as the intercultural communicative competence or as the intercultural mediation competence "since content material is culturally coded, such as primary sources in the subject of history" (Müller-Hartmann / Schocker von Ditfurth 2004: 153). The authors Müller-Hartmann and Schocker von Ditfurth (2004: 154) also argue that CLIL develops cultural awareness and language awareness since it confronts learners with situations where learning strategies and study skills need to be applied. To understand this example more precise, the authors give the example of Mandela's autobiography that is easy to read but that also demands readings of complex texts on „Britsh imperialism in South Africa“ (Müller-Hartmann / Schocker von Ditfurth ib.).

Another important aspect of CLIL that distinguishes it from foreign language classes was mentioned at the International CLIL Conference 2011 in Frankfurt/Main during a lecture: the materials and topics are authentic and thus the students can benefit from authentic communication. In contrast, foreign language classes and books work with fictious topics and re-enactments of daily life communication that does not allow students to speek freely but forces them to produce formulaic utterances. This type of learning is important at the beginning of L2 and must not to be rejected ,but to develop further competences it must be transgressed. Additionally, Wolff argues that CLIL provides a deeper processing of and a higher involvement in the target language since the material is authentic and does not need to be constructed artificially which is the case in foreign language classes (Wolff 1997).


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Does CLIL (content and language integrated learning) need its own methodology?
University of Frankfurt (Main)  (England- und Amerikastudien)
CLIL- Content and Language Integrated Learning
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Margarita Apyestina (Author), 2011, Does CLIL (content and language integrated learning) need its own methodology?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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