EMI: CLIL REVAMPED?

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You’ve probably heard about Content and Language Integrated Learning and you might even do a few CLIL lessons in your job, but there is a new abbreviation which is taking the EFL world by storm: EMI. EMI stands for English Medium Instruction, and, as you can quite rightly guess, it’s pretty similar to CLIL.

How are they different?

CLIL is usually utilised in primary or high schools and it involves teaching a subject like History or Science using English. EMI, on the other hand, is more often used at tertiary level, though it essentially involves the same thing – teaching a subject using English.

So, they’re basically the same thing?

Well, yes and no. They accomplish the same thing but they differ in one (major) aspect: aims. CLIL has dual aims in that the focus of the lesson is on the content but there are secondary aims which are related to language. The teacher will teach the water cycle but will also focus on, say, linking words.

A teacher using EMI has no specific language focus while they are teaching. Their primary and only aim is to teach content. Whatever language is learnt through this process is a bonus. They effectively teach in English and the language learning takes care of itself.

EMI and CLIL are two sides of the same coin

Basically, then, EMI and CLIL are two sides of the same coin. Language learning will take place with each one, though in a different manner. It’s also highly probable that CLIL and EMI lessons will be able to share resources and authentic materials; the CLIL teacher will just need to identify and develop a language focus.

Whether or not you will be expected to teach in an EMI classroom will depend on where you teach, but CLIL is something you can introduce into any classroom.  CLIL is especially popular with teens and with more advanced classes. Learners who have been learning English in a language classroom for years may be tired of the predictable lessons and may instead be keen to focus on other content which will ultimately help them learn the language anyway.

So now you know.

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