Teaching other subjects in E n g l i s h (CLIL)
S h e e l a g h Deller
"in subject matter teaching, we overlook the role However, they have the advantage of being able to
of language as a medium of learning. communicate in the classroom with confidence. They also have
In language learning, we overlook the fact that the advantage of having used many interactive types of
content is being communicated". teaching activities.
As language is a communicative subject, it is more common for
Mohan B. 1986 Language and content,
language teachers to plan interactive lessons, where students
Reading, M Addison-Wesley
have to communicate with each other and the teacher, rather
than just take in new information more passively. One of the
CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is spreading
skills involved when teaching a language is to make it
fast. In many cases, faster than the teachers it affects would
interesting, simply because there is no real content - unless we
like. The skills involved in teaching a subject in the mother
are teaching English for a specific purpose such as tourism,
tongue are not exactly the same as teaching it in another
commerce etc. We therefore have to spend a lot of time
language. This article will focus on some of the issues involved
thinking up topics that work and engage our students. This is a
in CLIL at this time.
great advantage of CLIL. Our content is readymade. What we
have to do in this case is think up ways of presenting it that will
Teacher difficulties enable our students to understand it. In other words, the
When working with teachers in CLIL I often hear these cries: subject determines what language we teach, rather than vice
It's so difficult for me to explain in English. versa. In the CLIL classroom the language really is a tool, rather
My students don't like listening to English. than an end in itself.
My students find it hard to read in English.
I have to write most of my own materials. The other side of the coin is the subject teachers who now
The book I've got is so boring. have to teach their subject in English. For many, their major
I can't get my students to participate in English. gap is the language, which is a real problem as it causes a
crisis in confidence. There is evidence that in subject teaching
The first thing to point out is that there are two different kinds there is less interaction than in language teaching. This must
of teachers in this situation, who face it with very different gaps mean that subject teachers are giving more input and talking
and needs. One kind is the teacher of English who now has to more than language teachers. If their problem is a lack of
teach a subject in English, rather than teach
just the language. The other is the subject T h e r e are m a n y interactive, c o m m u n i c a t i v e activities
teacher who now has to adapt to teach t h a t COUlCJ b e a p p l i e d a c r o s s t h e c u r r i c u l u m .
their subject in English. In an ideal world
they would be in the same classroom, team- teaching. In a very language, they need to use strategies which reduce their
small percentage of classrooms that is the case. But financially need to speak, and be up front. Successful language teaching
and logistically this is not very often possible so they have to depends on such strategies. Students need to repeat new
work alone. language, process it, and most importantly use it. So a good
percentage of the lesson is taken up with student talk. This is
In fact, in some countries English teachers have always taught not so necessary in subject teaching - unless the subject is
other subjects as well. In Austria for example, all teachers, being taught in another language. In this case the teachers
language teachers included, teach more than one subject. may want to speak less, and the students will need to have
But up to now they have not necessarily taught the other more active involvement to help them take in, understand and
subjects in English. The language teachers who have only memorise the new information. There are many interactive,
been language teachers face the problem of learning the new communicative activities that could be applied across the
subject matter. Teaching it in English is not such a problem for curriculum. Such activities will reduce the teacher's talking
them. But the content is. And it has to be said, that most of time and exposure, and give their students the benefit of
the published materials will be in the mother tongue. more thinking and processing time.
2 9 IN E N 6 U - S H ! Spring 2 0 0 5
high-frequency chunks related to
For example, in music: a high-pitched
note, a key signature, to play the piano.
difficulties Multiple intelligences
In addition to all this, there are the Teachers need an understanding of how this affects the
problems that the students face. If it is a subject we are teaching and the fact that we are teaching it
subject for which they have very little in another language.
understanding, liking, or empathy, and on top
of that, if they are being taught in a language they find difficult, Use of the mother tongue
then learning anything is going to be a miracle! Our only hope is There will be times when this can act as a resource, rather than
to make the lessons active and interesting. That means that the as a fall-back. The bulk of our teaching will obviously be in
activities and processes must be appealing in order to English, but there are times when we can use activities which
counterbalance the negative aspects of the content and language. link with the mother tongue to help understanding and memory.
In group work it may often be more profitable for the students
Teaching strategies to discuss in their mother-tongue as a route to achieving the
There are some strategies which seem to me to be particularly given task in English.
important when teaching another subject in a foreign language.
Giving students the necessary language support This is crucial - especially at times when the content may not be
When preparing lessons teachers need to analyse the lexical particularly mentally engaging. It will also mean that we don't
and cognitive demands of the topic and where necessary focus have to do all the talking and teaching.
on the English the students will need in order to take in and
participate in the lesson. Repetition and recapping
We need to find ways of doing this which add variety and fun.
Chunks and collocations For some topics, rote learning will be the answer. For others, a
Teachers and learners need to focus on and learn the regular re-visit.
COUNCIL 3 0 IN BN&LteW Spring 2 0 0 5
Visual input Deller, S. and Rinvolucri, M. (2002) Using the Mother Tongue, (Delta)
Too many lines of text in English will be daunting and Kuchl, I. and Simpson, S. (1998) English across the curriculum,
de-motivating. In the same way, listening to too much English (obv&hpt)
will be hard. The use of charts, pictures, graphs, tables etc will Littlejohn.A. and Hicks, D. (1996) Cambridge English for Schools (CUP)
ease understanding and give something for students to look at Littlejohn, A. and Hicks, D. (1998) Cambridge English »'. /:/. :e (CUP)
and do. Masih, J. (ed) (1999) Learning througn a foreign language (CILT)
Rinvolucri, M. (2002) Humanising Your Coursebook (Delta)
Learner training Salaberri, S. (1995) Classroom Language (Macmillan Heinemann)
When studying in a foreign language it is even more important
for students to understand ways to read more efficiently, ways Useful websites
to plan their writing, ways to store and learn new lexis, how to www.scienceacross.org
use the library, how to use the internet, understand charts and www.factbg.hit.bg
graphs, use effective revision and exam techniques etc. www.factworld.info
firstname.lastname@example.org (discussion list)
Checking understanding www.coollist.com
Giving tests is just one way of doing this. Asking students to www.bbc.co.uk/schools
produce tests is another. Giving them focused tasks to perform
is another. Asking them to list what they have learnt and how, is
Sheelagh Deller is a Pilgrims teacher, teacher trainer trainer trainer
and E T author. Over the last four years she has run courses at
Pilgrims for C I (teachers who teach other subjects in English).
Thinking time She has worked with teachers in many parts of the world, covering
Our syllabus may be huge, but the possibility of our students wide anges of experience, culture and teaching situations.
taking it all in is probably much less! In a foreign language they In Portugal she has long and happy associations with APPI.
are going to need to go more slowly, and have more processing She has written a number of books both for language learners and
for teachers. Her latest book. Using the Mother Tongue (co-author
and thinking time.
Mario Rinvolucri) was published by Delta in December 2002.
I personally hope CLIL is here to stay. It certainly looks like it at
the present. It is a great way to develop the foreign language
skill, while at the same time, focusing on important, rather than
contrived, subject matter. In terms of relevance to our students,
it must be a fantastic preparation for future study and work.
The obvious people to help teachers in CLIL are the teachers
themselves. The language teachers have a lot to offer the
subject teachers, and the subject teachers a lot to offer the
language teachers. Whether or not anyone is prepared at a
local level to set up such a liaison is the problem. But what a
waste not to have it. We all have a lot to learn from each other.
Allen, J. and Iggulden, M. (2001) Folens Science: Foundation.
Birdsall, M. (2001) Cross-curricular English Activities (Scholastic!
Campbell, L, Campbell, B., Dickinson, D. (1996) Teaching and
learning through multiple intelligences. (Allyn and Bacon)
31 WBNGLKW. Spring 2 0 0 5
POINTS TO THINK ABOUT. (They are going to see a short video before the PowerPoint).
-What do you notice about the instruction in science class? How does the class in the
video differ from our typical science classes?
-Have you heard before about this type of learning/teaching?
-Do you believe team-teaching is positive or negative in CLIL?
-Do you agree or disagree with our Autonomic Government's strategies to prepare
teachers for bilingualism or multilingualism classrooms?
-Do you think CLIL is here to stay or it is only something temporary?
-Do you believe the school have to spend more time in literacy and maths instead of this
kind of projects?
CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning.
chunk /tʃʌŋk/ a part of something, especially a large part.
collocation /ˌkɒl.əʊ ˈkeɪ.ʃən/ a word or phrase which is often used with another word or phrase, in a way that sounds
correct to people who have spoken the language all their lives, but might not be expected from the meaning.
content /ˈkɒn.tent/ the ideas that are contained in a piece of writing, a speech or a film.
counterbalance /ˈkaʊn.təˌbæl.ənt s/ to have an equal but opposite effect on something so that it does not have too
much of a particular characteristic.
daunting /ˈdɔːn.tɪŋ/ making you feel slightly frightened or worried about your ability to achieve something.
english teachers (Language teachers): teachers that teach English or other languages.
focus /ˈfəʊ.kəs/ the concentration of attention or energy on something.
integrate /ˈɪn.tɪ.greɪt/ to combine two or more things in order to become more effective.
language /ˈlæŋ.gwɪdʒ/ a system of communication consisting of sounds, words and grammar, or the system of
communication used by the people of a particular country or profession.
learning /ˈlɜː.nɪŋ/ the activity of obtaining knowledge.
liaison /liˈeɪ.zɒn/ communication between people or groups who work with each other.
literacy /ˈlɪt.ər.ə.si/ the ability to read and write.
mother tongue: the first language that you learn when you are a baby, rather than a language learned at school or
as an adult.
overlook /ˌəʊ.vəˈlʊk/ to fail to notice or consider something.
recap /ˈriː.kæp/ to repeat the main points of an explanation or description.
resource /rɪˈzɔːs/ a useful or valuable possession or quality of a country, organization or person.
strategy /ˈstræt.ə.dʒi/ a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as war, politics, business, industry or
sport, or the skill of planning for such situations.
subject /ˈsʌb.dʒekt/ an area of knowledge which is studied in school, college or university.
subject teachers (Non-linguistic teachers): teachers that don’t teach languages.
syllabus /ˈsɪl.ə.bəs/ the subjects or books to be studied in a particular course, especially a course which leads to an
task /tɑːsk/ a piece of work to be done, especially one done regularly, unwillingly or with difficulty.
teach /tiːtʃ/ to give someone knowledge or to train someone; to instruct.
team-teaching: two or more teachers teach in the same classroom at the same time.
total physical response (TPR) is a method developed by Dr. James J. Asher, a professor emeritus of psychology at
San José State University, to aid learning second languages.