CLIL as the holy grail of teaching

April 24, 2023


“When you start CLILing, all of your students will be 100% motivated”

Guess again..

Whenever I hear enthusiastic CLIL teachers talk about implementing CLIL, it is almost as if CLIL solve pretty much every education challenge.

All of a sudden, the magic starts to happen:

  • All lessons are fun
  • Students always speak the second language
  • Students are always 100% motivated to work in your lessons

  • Students learn a new language almost as if it doesn’t cost any extra effort

  • Etc.

In other words: CLIL can seem like the ‘holy grail’ of teaching.

But if that is the case, why wouldn’t everyone be using it already?

Although CLIL can certainly help to increase motivation and improve language learning, it also requires time and effort to implement.

Students might still be demotivated sometimes. Sorry about that ;).

But most importantly, it requires a teacher that can teach.

CLIL is not a substitute for bad teaching.

Classroom management is key

In my lesson this morning there were two boys who entered just in time, with their jackets, and not quite feeling like they needed to open their books. 

Despite this, everyone else was ready to start.

Let’s just say: it wasn’t CLIL that was implemented to get them to live up to my expectations.

It was just teaching. (I was going to say ‘good teaching’, but that might have been a little presumptuous ;))

Setting the stage and expectations.

Pointing out the students who were already ready to start and complementing them, instead of focusing on the ones who were not quite ready yet.

Things that have nothing to do with CLIL but everything to do with classroom management.

If you can’t get students to listen to you, CLIL is not going to help you.

If you can’t connect with students in a meaningful way, CLIL is not going to help you.

If you can’t improvise to sudden situations that happen in class, CLIL is not going to help you.

This is all just ‘basic teaching’.

Now you can get to CLILing

Only after you have ‘mastered’ this, you can start integrating CLIL.

Not by changing up everything that you do.

But by taking small steps. Baby steps.

If you do that, CLIL can improve your lesson.

It can increase student engagement.

It can even create more ‘fun’ lessons.

It can certainly improve student language levels.

And so much more!

As for those two boys who felt the rules didn’t apply to them…

Let’s just say I can be friendly and sometimes not so friendly ;).

But in the end, they did what was asked of them.

And they participated in all of the tasks I gave.

Which were all CLIL, motivating them to work together and speak up.

It was a great lesson, if I may say so, with a lot of learning going on.

Do you recognise this? 

That CLIL is sometimes considered a ‘holy grail’ of sorts?

Let me know in the comments below!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}