Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a competence-based teaching approach that is gaining ground in European education systems. The idea is to teach both the subject and the language, and is captured in the phrase "using language to learn, learning to use language.". CLIL encourages the use of curricula which promote the right interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity and communication and language abilities which are in demand by today’s employers. CLIL is fundamentally based on methodological principles established by research on "language immersion". 

There are many ways of describing the characteristics attributed to CLIL. 

You may already be following and using many of its principles. 

  • Bilingual Integration of Languages and Disciplines (BILD)
  • Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
  • Content and Language Integration in Primary CLIP
  • Content-based Instruction (CBI)
  • Content-based Language Instruction (CBLI)
  • Content-based Language Teaching (CBLT)
  • English Across the Curriculum (EAC)
  • English as an Academic Language (EAL)
  • English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI)
  • Foreign Language Immersion Program (FLIP)
  • Foreign Languages as a Medium of Education (FLAME)
  • Languages Across the Curriculum (LAC)
  • Teaching Content Through English
  • Teaching English Through Content

Learners’ Advantages of adopting a CLIL approach include:

  • Increasing motivation as language is used to fulfill real purposes to learn the substantive material.- It is not the same to learn a language with no real purpose in mind as that as to know a second language, than to have the need to do it. This makes it more purposeful and therefore more motivating for the learner.
  • Introducing learners to the wider cultural context.- Learning a subject such as History makes the learner understand the L2 culture far too much.
  • Developing a positive ‘can do' attitude towards learning languages.- Learning not only grammar, but personalizing the language through teaching something meaningful might lower the affective filter.
  • Developing student multilingual interests and attitudes.- Knowing more about a language increases sometimes the learners’ interests in different cultures such as the one they are learning the language from. It also broadens their horizons.
  • Preparing students for further studies and work.- Knowing a language and subjects and culture in L2 can increase the learners’ opportunities in life.
  • Access subject specific target language terminology.- Which may be difficult otherwise to acquire or even to be exposed to.
  • CLIL creates conditions for naturalistic language learning.- By having to communicate in the target language, to fulfill some of the tasks or even to understand the subject is how this kind of learning takes place.
  • CLIL provides a purpose for language use in the classroom.- Since learners need to communicate among each other in order to help cooperative learning.
  • It has a positive effect on language learning by putting the emphasis on meaning rather than on form.- By having non-disposable contents, it focuses on meaning, grammar is embedded. Some of my students absolutely hate grammar learnt as it, so this will help them cope with grammar in a more meaningful way and help them acquire it more than “studying” it.
  • It drastically increases the amount of exposure to the target language. By teaching a curricular subject which is already going to be taught but in the target language, it might double or more the time of exposure to it.
  • It takes into account the learners’ interests, needs and cognitive levels.

Teachers’ Advantages of adopting a CLIL approach include:

  • The use of innovative methods, materials and e-learning.- This is something also I will state as a disadvantage but right now, I will consider it as an advantage.
  • Individual and institutional networking opportunities and professional mobility.
  • Teachers knowing something more than just a “language”, mastering a curricular subject are more likely to get more opportunities and in this case the opportunities might happen abroad because of the reasons just mentioned.

European Framework for CLIL Teacher Education

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) has emerged as a major innovation for improving both the quality of language learning and reform of educational curricula. As the professional competence of teachers must be based on student needs, CLIL curricula, whether designed for teacher training or for classroom teaching and learning, should be complementary. 

​​Adaptable curricular models, suitable for both foreign language and content teachers are based on a set of defined target professional competences.

​ "CLIL can provide effective opportunities for pupils to use their new language skills now, rather than learn them now for use later.

It opens doors on languages for a broader range of learners, nurturing self-confidence in young learners and those who have not responded well to formal language instruction in general education.

It provides exposure to the language without requiring extra time in the curriculum, which can be of particular interest in vocational settings."

--Jasone Cenoz, Towards Multilingual Education