How CLIL can work in both language and subject lessons

March 16, 2021


In my opinion, CLIL can be applied to language lessons as well as subject lessons. Luckily, this opinion is supported by experiences of both subject and language teachers. In this post I would like to share why, using a CLIL activity that can be used in both lessons.

Estimated time to read this article: 4 minutes

CLIL in a language lesson

Something that comes up at a regular basis when discussing CLIL with teachers is how English language teachers can implement it. Especially the argument ‘but I already do this’ is commonly used.

And if you do: good job! I just don’t think everyone does just yet 😉

Last week I hosted a coaching session with both subject teachers and English language teachers and one of the tasks was to select a CLIL activity and apply it to their lesson.

Interestingly, both a subject and a language teacher chose the activity “Scan the chapter”.

This means this can be applied to both!

Not a real surprise to me, but still good to see this actually being applied.

Key Take Away

Scan the chapter is just one of many CLIL activities that can be applied to both subject and language lessons

Scan the chapter – quick recap

So, what is “Scan the chapter”?

I wrote an extensive post about this before, which you can find here.

But in short, the activity basically means: students go through a text, chapter or other resource and write down words they find hard or don’t know yet. This to make a personalised idiom file (PIF).

At the end of the lesson series, students are asked to have another look at their list and check if any words are still unknown to them.

This is a very motivating activity for students for various reasons:

  • It makes them aware of their progress, making learning meaningful to them
  • If discussed together, it shows them they are not the only ones who find certain words tricky.
  • It makes language salient because they are focusing on the language needed to understand the subject. After focusing on this, it is easier to work with subject content.

Key Take Away

This activity can be used without preparation time and will increase language awareness of your students.

Implementation by language teacher

The language teacher created a variation on this activity, which is perfectly fine of course.

The activity was scaffolded a bit, asking students to write down at least 5 words. But not just words, students also had to write down what grammar topics would be discussed.

And most interestingly: what students were looking forward to learning more about (and what not).

This last question can be tricky, as students might just say: “I don’t want to learn anything about this topic”.

But that did not happen.

Students gave detailed answers and the teacher actually concluded the planning of the lesson series might have to change according to the students’ interests.

Key Take Away

With Scan the Chapter you can determine what language to focus on during the lesson series that follows.

Applying ICT to this activity

For the record: this activity was done in a hybrid way. Part of the class in school with the rest joining in an online setting.

That is why the subject teacher actually asked students to send in a picture of the list, which was a very interesting way of sharing all of the lists and making it a bit personal.

But tools like Padlet or can also be used of course 😊

An example of a Padlet


This particular activity is a favourite of mine, because it not only strengthens the learning process, but is also very easy to apply in class.

In what ways can you implement it?

Share below!

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