Enough theory! How do I write a CLIL lesson plan?

September 15, 2020


by Mary Spratt and Helen Baker

CLIL teachers have often told us how frustrated and concerned they can feel when they try to apply CLIL methodology to their work. Theory is one thing, but applying it is another! How, for example, can you translate the 4C’s or Cummins’ quadrant into a lesson plan?

This is the dilemma we set out to address in this blog. We present a lesson plan for a subject lesson on Healthy Eating and alongside it a lesson plan for a CLIL lesson on the same area. In this way you can see at a glance how subject teaching and CLIL teaching are similar and also at a glance how they are different. In addition, you’ll see how a CLIL lesson can incorporate the CLIL theory you have learnt about. To make the connection to theory clear, we’ve provided a link to some notes that lay out the relevant CLIL key concepts. The CLIL lesson in fact could act as a template for many of your CLIL lessons, illustrating ways of scaffolding language and learners.

Our blog post has three parts:

These cover the standard factors all teachers consider when planning a lesson, whether CLIL or non-CLIL. See how the CLIL pre-plan has many additional features, reflecting CLIL methodology. 

  • Plans

Here are our detailed non-CLIL and CLIL versions of the same lesson – again the lessons have a lot in common, but note the differences in content, approach, organisation and timing.

  • Notes on Key CLIL concepts

If you’re fairly new to CLIL, look here to find out more about the thinking behind it.

We hope these provide you with an interesting and practical guide to putting together CLIL lessons in a way which is supported by the principles of CLIL, a guide to taking all that theory into the classroom.

Mary Spratt

Mary has been involved in various aspects of language teaching, as a teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer and assessment consultant. This work has taken her to live in various countries aside from her native UK: Hong Kong, Italy, Algeria, Portugal, Belgium, and to visit many more. She has written tests for CLIL teachers, been involved in the design of Cambridge’s TKT CLIL, taught on CLIL teacher training courses and written several articles which focussed mainly on trying to work out what CLIL really is or isn’t!

Helen Baker

Originally from Yorkshire in the UK, Helen has worked in the field of education for 35 years, mainly in EFL and ESOL teaching and management, in many different settings in the public and private sector, in the UK and in Italy. As her teaching over the last few years has been online, she takes a keen interest in developments in e-learning. Throughout her career she has been involved in teacher training: her most recent training project was an introductory CLIL programme for primary and secondary school subject teachers from Spain, co-taught with Mary at La Dante European Cultural Centre in Cambridge.

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