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Content Language Integrated Learning

What is it?

Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is often defined as a dual focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010, p. 1).

In this scenario, it is the teaching of the content that takes precedence and not the language. The language is simply the vehicle through which the content is delivered. It has been shown that by allowing students to use the language in this authentic, purposeful way students not only demonstrate higher levels of enthusiasm towards language learning but can also demonstrate higher levels of competency. 

Why is it being introduced to the post-Primary context?

Across the European Union, advocates of CLIL cite four benefits of the CLIL approach to MFL learning and teaching:

  1. It support authentic language use
  2. It capitalises on a language they already know to support inter-linguistic awareness
  3. It models how to communicate in the foreign language in different registers e.g. informally (e.g. daily interaction with teachers and peers) and formally (e.g. their academic work) in the classroom.
  4. Greater focus on the subject rather than the language

Also, Languages Connect includes a strategy goal (1.E.3) that seeks to explore the benefits of CLIL in order to “support and reinforce language learning” and “to improve language proficiency by creating a more engaging learning environment”.

What are the future goals for CLIL in Ireland?

The goal is that the various initiatives linked to CLIL will not only stimulate higher engagement in language learning but will also help students to improve their proficiency and for teachers to maintain their proficiency.

Our next steps…

Currently, we are launching a pilot CLIL project in Cork and in Maynooth.

During the pilot we are trailing the training materials, the teaching materials, the assessments and support networks for teachers.

At each stage of the pilot we will be assessing our progress towards our goals and, fundamentally, whether the model is sustainable.

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