What is CLIL?

Oh no, yet another acronym! What is it this time? What does this mean, Can Lightsabers Impair Love, maybe? Well, sorry for bringing down your hopes, but CLIL is all about making the world a better place for everyone. And it’s also about money for you, possibly.

Ok, here it is. CLIL stands for Content Language Integrated Learning. I know, not very titillating. But please hold on for just a minute.

Imagine that bilingual school in the country of your choice. You have landed a better job than the usual English teaching gig. Now you teach math in English, or chemistry in English, or history. Then there are several possibilities. One is that most of your students come from English speaking families, i.e. American or Canadian immigrants in the country. So move along, CLIL is not needed here. Another possibility is that you have a mixed bag of students, some coming from the aforementioned families, most of them though coming from local families who speak no English or limited English, in a country where the language of Milton is an oddity outside of hotels and golf courses.

In general these students will most likely tend to speak better English than the average student in the country in question – they have been schooled in English from their early years, possibly-, but they will be far from the level of a native speaker their age. However, they need to learn exactly the same math, chemistry or history that everybody else that age is supposed to learn so they get their high school diploma. In other words, you have to provide results.

Here comes the punchline. You need to strike the right, delicate balance between content – the subject your students are supposed to learn – and language needs – how to explain photosynthesis without using the word photosynthesis, or carbon dioxide, or chlorophyll because of the limited languages skills of my pupils? – Some schools just hope for magic to happen. “Go out there and teach, teach them stuff”. Those who can get what you are talking about will be saved, while those who can’t will be embroiled in a mixed trap made out of both foreign language gibberish and a bunch of subject’s concepts mysteries. The latter not being a context where student’s motivation grows and flourishes, precisely; no good for your numbers by the end of the school year, either.

Some other schools have a more systematic, careful approach to the needs of their students. CLIL, our dear acronym, is the answer to this challenge that those employers are looking into. Bilingual schools are mushrooming all around the globe for a number of reasons and with their growth, the different levels in terms of language proficiency of their students is becoming more and more noticeable. This has brought to the table the need for a specific methodology to teach where both language and subject content are in perfect balance by means of the right educational tools, materials and training for teachers.

This training that we call CLIL cultivates the required language awareness, language teaching strategies and planning for lessons in such a way that we can bypass language barriers without watering down content. CLIL teaches you how to teach striking that necessary balance between subject content and language. By applying the happiest features of the Communicative Approach to most topics on top of very carefully designed lesson plans instructors from all over the world are obtaining outstanding results with their pupils, who not only perform better in regards to their curricula but also become bilingual as a byproduct of their work in the target language.

What?

That is a lot of chit chat, right?

Well, CLIL powered schools have been multiplying fast all around the globe during the last ten years for a reason: they work.

And because they work students profit from it and properly trained teachers, specialists in this manner of teaching, are also reaping the benefits in the shape of rewarding jobs, good pay and motivated students to work with.

Food for thought, even if there are not lightsabers involved.