Published 21st May 2019
Content and Language Integrated Learning lessons can be valuable additions to any English as a Foreign Language curriculum. They can provide an alternative lesson structure to your teaching repertoire. This will help prevent boredom for both learners and teachers. However, planning and carrying out good CLIL lessons is not as easy as you may think. There are a few key ingredients you need in order to make the effort worthwhile.
Here are 4 ingredients for successful CLIL lessons
A supportive school
Teaching CLIL lessons requires more preparation than teaching General English lessons. Often an EFL teacher won’t have experience teaching the subject in question. As a result, they will need time to get to grips with the content first, and then more time to develop an appropriate lesson.
Schools need to understand this and provide adequate support. This may mean that a CLIL teacher does not work as many hours as other EFL teachers. Alternatively, CLIL teachers teach the same class and same level every year so that they can repeat their lessons. Or CLIL teachers work in tandem with subject teachers so that they have the knowledge support they need.
Consequently, a school supportive of CLIL lessons will be able to provide appropriate materials to CLIL teachers. Often schools will make use of English-medium textbooks for their CLIL lessons which can pose challenges for the EFL learner. If this is the case, the school must also make available resource books and activity books which the teacher can use to supplement the main textbook.
If possible, the school should invest in custom-made CLIL textbooks. Such textbooks will provide the same content as mainstream textbooks but with an added language focus and EFL exercises. While this will take time and money, if the school is intent on CLIL lessons, this is a natural solution.
It goes without saying that an EFL teacher needs to be well-prepared, communicative, understanding, patient – all those things. But CLIL teachers need to have the extra quality of flexibility in order to be effective not only as EFL teachers but also CLIL teachers.
CLIL teachers need to be able to apply the theories of teaching English as a Foreign Language to the teaching of Science or Maths or History. They need to have such a thorough understanding of the subject matter that they can teach the content as well as English. They need to be able to come up with appropriate lessons which will teach both aspects of a CLIL lesson.
Last but most certainly not least, CLIL learners need to be motivated. Just as a CLIL lesson is challenging for an EFL teacher so it is challenging for an EFL learner. CLIL learners need to be dedicated to learning English as well as learning the subject. Of course, this motivation is also dependent on the teacher who must ensure their lessons are engaging enough to keep their students interested.
To be sure, teaching CLIL lessons isn’t for the fainthearted, but if you have the skills and the knowledge, it can be highly rewarding.