Implementing CLIL one step at a time

May 18, 2021


CLIL can be overwhelming. There, I said it. With all of the information available one might just be a little too overwhelmed to start. That is why I would argue: start implementing CLIL one step at a time.

Estimated time to read this article: 3 minutes

How to start with implementing CLIL

If you are looking for a simple way to start with CLIL and you start searching with Google or start reading some books, you will quickly find yourself completely overwhelmed with all of the information.

So, what does it take to actually start implementing CLIL?

For starters: don’t worry about doing everything.

CLIL can be as simple as a single activity within a lesson.

And it is very likely you are already implementing CLIL activities without realising it.

Whenever I host CLIL workshops for CLIL beginners, one of my slides shows ‘baby steps’.

Because that is what it takes to start.

Sure, there is much more to it, and you can certainly improve a lot.

I know I can.

But you need to start somewhere, right?

Key Take Away

Implementing CLIL does NOT mean you need to change your entire lesson.

Smaller steps to complete a large task

Talking about starting: starting with something new is always hard.

One of the reasons people why people procrastinate is because the task at hand is difficult.

And preparing a CLIL lesson can certainly be daunting.

The best way to tackle this type of challenge is by (you guessed it) making it simpler.


By turning it into smaller tasks.

Instead of “preparing a lesson”, start with: “think of an opening activity”.

And if that is still too big a step, maybe “ask a question to students that motivates language output” 

Really, that is all!

Key Take Away

Whenever a task is too daunting, try to make it smaller so you know you can accomplish it

Know the basics first

Obviously, before you can really implement CLIL you have to know some basics on CLIL.

Luckily, I wrote a blog post on that before!

It is a quick 7 minute read that basically mentions everything you need to know to start with CLIL.

Practical examples for implementing CLIL

I can almost hear you thinking: “Right, that makes sense, but how does that work exactly?”

Glad you asked!

Let me share some practical examples as inspiration for different moments in your lesson:


At the beginning of your lesson ask your students what subject specific words they still remember from the previous lesson. They get a minute to think about this and you randomly ask students for the answers.


During your instruction ask students to answer a few questions while listening to you. Discuss the answers afterwards.


While students are working, assign a secret student to motivate language output


At the end of the lesson, ask students to rate their level of understanding on a scale of 1-10 and ask them to write down what the most important thing they learned in 15 words or less.


All of these activities are CLIL and can be implemented without any preparation time.

After doing one or two of these activities, you can start implementing more of them.

But still: one step at a time!

How about you try one of these activities in one of your next lessons and let me know how it went?

Curious to know!

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