CLIL & Mathematics: More ideas to try out in your lesson!

April 9, 2018


Easy to implement CLIL activities in your Mathematics lesson!

I posted an article about this topic sometime ago and wanted to share more ideas on activities I regularly use in my lesson. For the record: all of these activities require no preparation time at all and can be used in other lessons as well, I simply use them in my lessons and focus on CLIL & Mathematics that way.

I discussed all of these activities before in other blog posts, proving my point they can be used in different contexts!

Idea 1: Create a word list/Check for difficult words

At the start of a chapter, I will ask my students to scan the chapter for difficult new words. They have to keep track of these words as we discuss the chapter. At the end of the chapter we discuss the word lists and check if indeed the words have all been taken care of.

Why is this interesting for a CLIL & mathematics lesson?

A lot of new phrases are often introduced in new chapters. Think of words like isosceles, perpendicular or trigonometry. If students do not know these words, they will not be able to understand the problems they have to deal with.

The reason I think this is a great activity is that it differentiates between students (word lists can be different) but can still easily be checked by teachers. For example: I recently asked my students a word I know was tricky. What followed was the question by which students had written down the word in their word lists. For those who did not, this was a moment of truth and they had to explain why.

Obviously the language is involved and students are activated when they make the lists. If also helps if you plan to regularly ‘check’ the word list. Not by asking them to hand in anything, but simply by asking the difficult words they encounter.

I discussed activities like this in an article on activating language in your lesson

Idea 2: Create a problem

With mathematics one of the main skills students practice is: solving problems. These problems can be very different, depending on the topic discussed. However, quite often these problems are a way to learn something new by repeating the same problems over and over again, with different numbers.

This can be somewhat boring for ‘smarter’ students as well as not very ‘activating’. By asking your students to create problems for each other, students are activated and can ask questions on different levels.

I motivate them even more by mentioning one of the problems they create might end up in the test. This also allows for a re-use of the problems.

Why is this interesting for a CLIL & mathematics lesson?

Because Mathematics is a subject that makes a lot of use of problems that look a lot like others, students can use these as an example and don’t have to think about the problems themselves so much. It is more about creativity than ‘being able to do it’, which is a good thing in my opinion.

This activity is more thoroughly explained in ‘How to get your students to come up with problems

Idea 3: Listening dictation

Recently the topic of ‘2D shapes’ was discussed in my lesson, and many ‘new’ phrases were introduced: Kite, Parallelogram, Rhombus etc. All of these shapes have different properties and are quite hard to learn for students.

Enter: “Listening Dictation”.

Students listen to me while I list all the properties of a shape. They have to keep track of what I say by taking notes and afterwards have to check with each other to see if the notes are complete. You can even make this more of a quiz by asking your students to figure out what shape belongs to these properties.

Why is this interesting for a CLIL & mathematics lesson?

By making this more into a game, students will have actually discussed the properties way more thoroughly compared to just telling them to study it.

I also described this activity in the blog post but I don’t have time!


With these three easy to use activities I am sure you will make your Mathematics lessons even more CLIL. Good luck!

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