Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Education


Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) or bilingual education is a special case of Language Across Curriculum (LAC). On the one hand, the mastery and knowledge of a foreign language is deepened by using it more frequently in a meaningful and functional way and on the other hand, the foreign language is used for cognitive, academic purposes, embedded into content learning, leading to the development of subject specific discourse ompetence. CLIL can lead to cross linguistic and even cross-cultural forms of thinking and even cross-cultural forms of thinking and communicating, provided there is room within CLIL teaching for language word, for comparison of expressions, and of discourse style. 

CLIL is an umbrella term describing both learning another subject to the medium of a foreign language and learning a foreign language by studying a content-based subject. It is a pedagogic approach in which language and subjects are learned in combination. The basis of CLIL is that content subjects are taught and learned in a language which is not the mother tongue of the learners. It describes any activity where language is used as a tool to level up new learning from a subject area. The approach is inclusive and flexible. It encompasses a variety of teaching methods, curriculum models, and can be adopted to age, ability, needs and interests of the learners. This approach is equally suitable for primary, secondary and higher education. 


No current CLIL are experimental. It is based on language acquisition, but in monolingual presentation, a good deal of conscious learning is involved demanding skills from the subject teacher. It assumes that subject teachers are able to exploit opportunities for language learning. However, implementing CLIL requires a re-thinking about the traditional concept of language classroom and the language teacher. The immediate obstacle seems to be-

a. Opposition might come from language teachers themselves. Moreover, subject teachers may be un-interested to take on extra responsibility.

b. It demands training and skill in this approach, which is currently not readily available.

c. There is little evidence to suggest that understanding of content is not reduced by a lack of language knowledge.

d. Some aspects of this program seems to be unnatural, such as, the appreciation of the literature and culture of the learner’s own country through a second language.


A good practice in CLIL has no doubt a few pedagogic disadvantages. However, it is a common fact that no program’s success is immediate or straight forward. Initially, teachers need to invest time in re-thinking as to how to teach through an additional language. CLIL draws on successful experience of both subject learning and language learning and is always involved new ways of working- be it planning, selecting appropriate materials and resources, designing curriculum, training of teachers, managing parental perceptions, motivating students etc. Until training for teachers and material issues are resolved, the immediate feature remains with parallel rather than integrated content and language learning. However, a reform in language teaching and learning is a current demand in the context of globalization, liberalization of the future of the world.

Factors of CLIL

There are some factors important which needs to be considered before a school introduces a CLIL program. These factors are as follows-

a.       The availability of qualified language teaching staff with the required content knowledge. Knowledge of the approach and the appropriate level of competence in the target language.

b.       The need for collaboration with mainstream and subject teachers to teach the target language subject area.

c.       The need to manage parental perceptions.

d.       Changes in the time table and other resources.

e.       Restructuring the subject matter.

f.        To train awareness and consciousness.

Advantages of CLIL

The advantages of CLIL are as follows:-

a.       Help to introduce a wide cultural context.

b.       To prepare students for internationalization.

c.       To enhance the school profile.

d.       To improve overall and specific language competence.

e.       To prepare for future studies or the work-field.

f.        To develop multi-lingual interests and attitudes.

g.       To diversify methods and forms of classroom teaching and learning.

h.       To increase learner’s motivation.

Learning content through another language provides opportunities for interaction with different cultures and communities. It encourages learners to develop fresh perspectives and to recognize that there are different ways of interpret the world.

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