The Concept of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

Term Paper, 2018

16 Pages, Grade: 2,0



Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. TheconceptofCLIL
2.1. Definition of CLIL
2.2. CLILandimmersion
2.3. CLILasanEuropeanconcept

3. Implementation of CLIL in class - the example of textual work

4. CLILinpractice-scaffolding
4.1. Verbal scaffolding techniques
4.2. Content scaffolding techniques

5. Results

6. References

1. Introduction

An European wide trend of starting foreign language learning, especially English, already in kindergarten and at primary school explains the increased interest in bilingual teaching opportunities. One of the most popular concept among these is the so-called Content and language integrated learning (in the following CLIL). Since the educational policy in Germany is in the responsibility of the single federal states, there is also no common ground when it comes to CLIL. Therefore, the teacher education at universities drags behind as well. In order to offer high quality CLIL, numerous aspects need to be taken into account. The interdependency between language, content and the knowledge of how to combine the two ofthem makes CLIL complex. As Marsh et al. stated, “Function and form, action and knowledge are mutually dependent. Action without knowledge is blind, vacuous. Knowledge without action is sterile. Finding the correct balance is the key to successful learning and teaching.”

(cf. Marsh 2002)

With regard to this, the complexity of CLIL is going to be analyzed and viewed from different perspectives.

This term paper describes and reflects on the concept of CLIL from different angles. Firstly, the concept itself is introduced and defined. By doing this, a distinction between CLIL and immersion is conducted. Since there are numerous definitions and interpretations of CLIL within Europe, a closer look is taken to CLIL within the European context. Similarities and differences between educational systems are presented. Secondly, the practical implementation of CLIL in class is observed by describing the example of textual work. Thirdly, the focus is on scaffolding in general and its numerous manifestations that can be used to support CLIL learners. In doing so, a distinction between verbal and content related scaffolding techniques is made.

2. The concept of CLIL

The increasing interest in the concept of CLIL triggered a lively discussion of improved methods for second-language teaching in Europe. Within the scope of national and European education policy, the acquisition of intercultural competences plays a vital role.

In the following the concept of CLIL will be defined, seen isolated from immersion and considered within the European context.

2.1. Definition of CLIL

When it comes to the question how the concept of CLIL can be defined, there is no absolute answer. The definition of the term, as well as its scope are used in an ambiguous manner, since its core characteristics are grasped in different ways concerning the balance between content and language instruction, educational goals, defining characteristics of pupils involved and the pedagogical approaches that are used to integrate content and language instructions. Furthermore, a vital distinction between CLIL and immersion approaches needs to be conducted (cf. Cenoz et al. 2014, p. 243).

In the course of this term paper, the following definition of CLIL is used as starting point. According to Marsh the concept can be defined as a “(.••) dual-focused approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching ofboth content and language” (cf. Marsh et al. 2010).

2.2. CLIL and immersion

In the literature, one often reads that the terms CLIL and immersion are used interchangeably. Both are used to describe a way of teaching in which an L2 is chosen for teaching content besides the language. Since this paper aims to consider the concept of CLIL solely, the differences and similarities between the two concepts are expressed beforehand. As CLIL stems from immersion originally, it is obvious that the two concepts do have similarities. Lasagabaster and Sierra (2009) worked out five principles which CLIL and immersion have in common. Firstly, their overall objective is the same. Namely, to lead the students to proficiency in both languages, their L1 and L2, without any disadvantage to the acquisition of their academic knowledge. Secondly, the language that is used to teach the students must be new to them. Its learning process then is similar to the L1 acquisition they went through. Thirdly, both concepts are assumed to be the most effective ways to learn a second language. Fourthly, the academic staff should ideally be bilingual, so that the greatest guarantee of success can be implemented as well as all in class activities can be carried out in the L2. Last but not least, the overall objective of effective communication should be reached with the help of a motivating learning environment and discussion partners which encourage the development of the linguistic progress.

Beside those similarities, the following differences between CLIL and immersion need to be mentioned in order to grasp the full range of the concepts. A major difference among the two lies in the relationship between the language that is used in the program and the language that is spoken in the natural environment of the students. Whereas immersion programmes are carried out in the language spoken in the students’ environment, either at home or in large parts of society, CLIL is carried out in a language which is foreign to the students. At the most, pupils do not have access, in the same amount as in CLIL classes, to the foreign language outside school. Subsequent, immersion students’ contact and practical usage of the language is much higher than it is in CLIL. It is highly beneficial that they can make use of the language also in informal communicative situations outside the formal school setting.

In contrast to the majority of CLIL teachers, immersion teachers are mostly native speakers in the language used in the program. As mentioned later, there is a lack ofadequate teacher education in Europe.

Immersion programs can be divided into early and late ones. The CLIL approach can rather be compared to the late immersion programmes, since they normally start not before the children have entered primary school. In summary, it can be stated that CLIL is a considerably newer concept and further research and development regarding its implementation and practical application at schools need to be conducted (cf. ibd.)

2.3. CLIL as an European concept

During the last 20 years, the concept of CLIL became an integral part of the European education systems. Due to various attempts towards the implementation of CLIL at schools throughout Europe and the increasing number of publications and congresses on the subject of CLIL, a rising interest in the approach became recognizable. Among the European countries, noticeable similarities as well as differences can be seen. Moreover, countries differ in their approaches of how to use CLIL as a linguistic instrument to support bilingualism and multilingualism. In order to analyze the different manifestations of CLIL, the following parameters need to be taken into account (cf. Wolff2012).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

According to the listed parameters, similarities and differences among the European countries can be explored. The previously cited definition of CLIL, namely “CLIL is a dual-focused approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language.” (Marsh et al. 2010), which was modified several times during the last years, is generally accepted in Europe. Most of the European CLIL concepts can be rediscovered within this realization and several countries adopted the definition. For instance, in France the term CLIL was translated into EMILE1, into AICLE in Spain2 or into AILC3 in Italy. However, there are also European countries, which use the terms of CLIL and immersion interchangeably. The difference between those two was already mentioned before.

Remarkable progress in the implementation of CLIL into the European school systems can be mentioned. In Austria and Andalusia so called grass-root or bottom-up movements proceeded. In the course of this, individual trained CLIL teachers proved the concept at their school and gave feedback to interested colleagues. Another way of implementation, practiced in e.g. Italy or Estonia, is called top down trend. Thereby, the concept of CLIL is implemented nationwide only after a short time of testing by educational authorities (cf. ibd. p. 20). Throughout Europe, the form of education where CLIL is implemented differs. The francophone parts of Belgium have implemented CLIL at a range of primary schools, whereas Poland starts CLIL at secondary school level. In general, it can be said, that the trend goes towards the implementation of CLIL at primary school level. Concerning the age pupils are in when they come in contact with CLIL, the range goes from early childhood education (3 years) to high school classes (19 years). There is also variation in the amount ofcontact hours with the L2 in CLIL sessions. In some parts of Spain, students are taught up to 9 hours per week, whereas the average is about 2-4 hours perweek (cf. ibd. p. 21).

English is the most widely used language in CLIL education in Europe, followed by French, German, Spanish and Russian with a proportional distribution of 80% English and 20% the other languages. Besides, some countries like France, Norway or the Netherlands also use the concept of CLIL to teach minority languages such as Breton or Friesian. In view of the subjects that are taught by conducting CLIL, no systematic differences can be recognized. So CLIL is used to teach scientific and humanistic subjects as well as arts and physical education (cf. ibd. p. 22).

Adequate teacher education plays a central role in the discussion of CLIL in Europe. Only a few countries, like Norway and Austria, offer the style of education we receive in Germany. Being qualified in two or more subjects is not the status quo in Europe. This leads to the problem that teachers who want to teach CLIL need to study retrospectively. Either they have to catch up the language or the content. Although, the European countries offer additional teacher trainings for CLIL interested educators, this situation needs to be enhanced in the future.

As CLIL lessons, once they are integrated into the timetable, belong to the school routine of the students, its evaluation does too. Since the classes focus on both, content and language, CLIL teachers need to find an appropriate way for evaluation. Within the European context it can be observed that the pupils’ performances regarding the content of the lesson play a more central role than their linguistic skills.

All in all, it can be said that handling of CLIL between the European countries is not on a common ground yet. In order to improve the realization of the concept at schools, further development and communication would be conducive.

3. Implementation of CLIL in class - the example of textual work

As opposed to traditional foreign language teaching whose focus is on the language itself by focusing on its grammar, syntax, pronunciation and vocabulary, CLIL is different. While following the general curriculum of a subject, e.g. history, biology or art education, a foreign language is used as medium of instruction.

CLIL teachers have to find an appropriate balance between language and content instruction. Since CLIL students’ linguistic awareness is still under development, it needs to be promoted while the content of another subject is taught. To reach this goal specific teaching methods, which do not follow the guidelines of either traditional language teaching or subject teaching, are necessary (cf. Vollmer 2013).

As an example, the application of textual work in the context of CLIL is specified in the following. Textual work is one of the central aspects in CLIL lessons. Since texts serve as starting point in the acquisition of new information, in oral and written text production and in structuring and ordering the students’ thoughts. In order to successfully develop, enhance, connect and memorize knowledge,


1 EMILE stands for Enseignement d'une Matiére Integrée á une Langue Etrangére

2 AICLE stands for Aprendizaje Integrado de Contenidos y Lenguas Extranjeras

3 AILC stands for Apprendimento Integrato di Lingua e Contenuti

Excerpt out of 16 pages


The Concept of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
University of Cologne
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concept, content, language, integrated, learning, clil
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Anonymous, 2018, The Concept of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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