Section 1: Connecting Content and Language. Language Of, For and Through

Do Coyle's perspective on language in CLIL

In this introductory video, Do Coyle explains her ideas around the importance of language in CLIL. A key concept she uses is literacy ('alfabetisme' in Catalan), which has a broader meaning in English than in Catalan, because it does not only include the capacity to read and write, but also the capacity to write coherently, and think critically about the written word. She develops the concept of Literacy across the curriculum, showing that any subject, even Maths, where the language of algebra feels far removed from everyday language learning, has at its core integral key aspects of literacy. Enjoy the video!

Exercise 1

Questions for reflection

After watching the video, try to answer the following questions:

1. What are the opportunities that CLIL offers to teachers?
2. What are the main language issues that teachers should take into account in CLIL?
3. Explain the meaning of "pluriliteracies".
4. Give an example on how teachers can support literacy from teaching a subject in a foreign language.

Content learning and language learning: Connections

This section explores the theoretical implications of integrating content learning and language learning within Do Coyle's 4Cs Framework. The presentation introduces the Language Triptych Concept: for CLIL implementation to be successful, it is necessary to analyse the language of learning, language for learning and language through learning. This means that the language in a CLIL lesson must be carefully planned. This is crucial specially in secondary education, where the teacher to deliver CLIL is often a subject teacher, and subject teachers are not always aware of the language needs of learners. It is therefore advisable that you reflect on the following issues after viewing the presentation:

  1. The kind of language the teacher is supposed to teach to their CLIL learners (language of learning).
  2. How to encourage pupils to use English in CLIL classes (language for learning and language through learning).
  3. The necessary joint work of the subject CLIL teacher and the English teacher.

Content learning and Language learning by joan_alberich

In case your browser does not allow you to visualize the presentation above, you can access it in PDF format here: content_language.pdf

Exercise 2

The following exercise offers you the opportunity to reflect on the language needed by students in some CLIL contexts. As you probably are not an English teacher, it gives you some clues of the kind of language you will need to plan for your CLIL classes.

Look at the tasks and the three possible areas of language. Two of the areas of language are central to the tasks. One of the areas of language is NOT central to the task. Mark the area of language which is NOT central to the task (taken from TKT CLIL test).

1. For writing about an experiment on gravity the learners did in the lab
A the past tense
B comparative forms
C question tags
2. For writing a quiz on ‘Facts about Whales’
A exclamations
B question forms
C the present tense
3. For designing a poster describing the digestive process
A reported speech
B conjunctions of time
C impersonal pronouns
4. For working in groups to label parts of the body
A adverbs of frequency
B language for checking answers
C singular and plural forms of nouns
5. For taking part in a class discussion speculating about the climate in the future
A modal verbs expressing possibility or probability
B vocabulary for expressing feeling
C language for expressing opinions
6. For reconstructing a text on how glass is made
A passive forms
B sequencing words
C superlative forms

The following video shows the difference between language of, language for and language through in the context of a science class.

Though classifying language needs of a CLIL lesson into language of, language for and language through is not an end in itself, it may be useful for you to take into account the language required in your classes accurately. Take a look at the following example. The title of the lesson is Habitats, from a science class:

HABITATS (from Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010), CLIL, CUP)
  • Key vocabulary / phrases
  • Grammatical progression in using modal verbs to predict the future of ecosystems
  • Language of describing, defining, explaining, hypothesizing
  • Effective use of future and conditional tenses for cause/effect, solutions, suggestions
  • In groups: asking and answering questions using evidence
  • Language to build arguments and disagreements
  • Language for project work
  • Writing a simple research report
  • Using feedback
  • Dictionary skills
  • Recycling discussion skills at a higher level
  • Extending presentation skills
  • Presenting evidence

Exercise 3

Classify the following items into language of, language for and language through. The title of the lesson is What are ecosystems?:
  • Distinguish language needed to carry out activities.
  • Comparing and contrasting: The animals living in a savannah are bigger than the ones living in a pond
  • Make use of peer explanations.
  • Record, predict and learn new words which arise from activities
  • Key vocabulary: plants, ecosystem, living things, non-living things, pond, savannah, grass, bushes, dry places, wet places, animal adaptation …
  • Asking each other questions: What do you know about …? Can you tell me something about … ?
  • Retain language revised by both the teacher and learners.
  • Classifying: The different elements/animals in an ecosystem are…

CLIL is teaching a non-linguistic subject, the content, through a foreign language. CLIL teachers must have the curriculum development in mind when they plan their units.

This section aims to offer useful links to the curriculum development for Secondary Education and Batxillerat. You will find links to most of the subjects in Secondary Education, and a general overview of the curriculum of Batxillerat:

Curriculum development