Is CLIL not just good teaching?

November 30, 2020


For those of you who attended the online CLIL summit, you are probably well aware of the things we discussed during the interview with Jill Surmont.

During this interview, and the Expert Panel earlier that week, Jill Surmont mentioned she thinks CLIL is for a large part just ‘good education’.

In this blog post I want to discuss if CLIL is not just 'good teaching' in general.

Estimated time to read this article: 5 minutes

Whenever I give workshops, I often compare CLIL to ‘activerende didactiek’ (which loosely translates to ‘learning activities’) and a ‘language component’. And especially the activities-part can easily be implemented in any CLIL lesson.

Rick de Graaff from the University of Utrecht wrote an article on this before on the blog.

Teaching CLIL in L1

When I changed schools a couple of years ago I had to teach in Dutch again, my first language.

I was a little worried this might actually harm my teaching, as I was not used to do that. I had not taught in Dutch in many years.

Luckily, I found I could still use all of my lesson preparations. All of my activities. Even all of my scaffolding ideas!

It turned out my ‘regular’ students did not just like the activities I used

They also really appreciate I scaffolded their learning for them! (Surprise…)

In other words: CLIL activities often work in a regular lesson as well.

Of course, scaffolding language is not always needed, but still, ask yourself:

Do you..

  • introduce new words or phrases in your lessons?
  • discuss how some phrases relate to prior knowledge?
  • share the links between words and their origin in language or how they can be remembered. Or even are used in other subjects?

I think you often do.

And that is the language component of CLIL.

Key Take Away

Teachers are often not aware they are already "doing CLIL"

Positive responses to mails

When I introduced I was going to share more inspirational mails/blogs on a weekly basis last week, I received quite a few responses.

Only 2 people unsubscribed, of which 1 immediately labelled my email as spam. Can’t really help that I am afraid.

On the other hand, others responded very positively and mentioned they appreciate this a lot. It even inspired some teachers for ideas in their lessons!

I also received the comment I should be careful to keep focusing on CLIL

To be careful not to share just general ideas, as there are already a lot of ‘general education’ things out there.

This is absolutely true, but at the same time I feel many things that belong to CLIL can actually be linked to regular education as well.

After all, isn’t CLIL just good education?

Key Take Away

CLIL ideas can be used in any kind of lesson

Teaching CLIL can be hard

A colleague of mine once shared she thought teachers who were not at the top of their game might still be okay in regular teaching, but would really be in trouble in a CLIL lesson.

Simply because there is so much more involved in a CLIL lesson:

  • The language should be made salient
  • Activities need to be developed
  • Preparation takes more time
  • Students need to be motivated to generate language output
  • And much more

Sounds overwhelming? Don’t worry!

Like I said, I think CLIL simply is not that different from regular teaching in a way.

You do NOT have to change everything at once if you just start out.

Some ideas to implement CLIL quickly:

  • Introduce one CLIL activity in your lesson as a starter
  • Have a look what key language plays an important role in your next lesson
  • Think about how you can motivate student output

What do you think?

Do you agree with me that CLIL is just good education? Or do you not?

Share below! Curious to hear your thoughts!

Key Take Away

Starting out with CLIL can be overwhelming. Change only one thing at a time.

Online language teacher conference

Before I forget: If you are a language teacher, you might be interested in this online conference, organised by Olga Rotko who participated in the CLIL Summit as well.

Some names might be very familiar to you! The summit is free to join, but if you would like the Premium ticket (which includes access to the recordings and the certificate of attendance) use the coupon code “CLILSummit” at checkout to receive a discount!

That’s it for this week!

Remember: let me know what you think of this post, curious to know what you think.

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