According to David Marsh of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the term “Content and Language Integrated Learning” refers to teaching with a dual focus, namely the teaching of content simultaneously with the teaching of a foreign language.
Language is recognized as the medium through which knowledge is constructed and expressed, and which needs to be developed in order to allow for this construction and expression to happen, especially in a context where subjects are taught in and through a foreign language.
David Graddol of the British Council points out that in a CLIL context, the learner is not expected to have full English proficiency from the outset (most often the target language in CLIL is English) and therefore teachers will adapt their pedagogical approach to ensure that students understand the content. This results in a more learner-centered approach in which task-based and interactive teaching methods are preferred. Teachers will regularly draw their students’ attention to the role that language plays in the process through which they assimilate and use concepts.
Teachers themselves are not expected to be native speakers, they are considered to be the learners’ guides and partners in their endeavor.
Given that English is increasingly important for those on the job market as well as those in academia, it has now become much more than a language; it is a core skill. This is why English is chosen as the language of instruction and learning in a growing number of programs at UCL, and why CLIL pedagogy is being adopted.
At UCL a team of English coaches, specialized in Content and Language Integrated Learning, works with teachers, with students, and with the technical and administrative staff, in order to ensure that wherever courses are taught in English, all stakeholders have access to the necessary support to make this challenge a success!
What UCL teachers say about their work with CLIL coaches:
“Thanks to the class observation and feedback from a CLIL coach I corrected some of the mistakes I often make in English.”
“I very much appreciated the pedagogical workshops as they gave me new ideas to make my classes more interactive. These workshops were also a great opportunity to share good practices with other colleagues."
“I used a number of the online tools recommended by the CLIL coaches, among others to check pronunciation or grammar.”
“My previous experience with teaching in English resulted in lower attendance from the students. Following the CLIL approach, I revamped most of my teaching to vary the activities during 2-hour classes, with a very positive response from the students.”
What UCL students said after having benefited from the support by CLIL coaches:
“The language helpsheets that we received for certain exercises were very useful.”
“The CLIL coaches proofread our reports and gave us feedback on how to improve them in terms of language and structure, in addition to our teacher’s comments on content.”
“The language clinic that the professor organized with the help of the CLIL instructor on the basis of an exercise from the course pushed me to work more, both on the language and the technical content. I learned a lot, and this also helped me at the exam.”
Administrative and technical staff said this about their work with CLIL coaches:
“I participated in a weekly conversation table to improve my English, and everything was relaxed and informal, which helped me feel more at ease.”
“The CLIL coaches organized language workshops for us, and we could suggest our own topics, such as emailing, telephoning, grammar review etc.”
“The CLIL coach helped me with my laboratory protocol in English.”
“Whenever I translated a new document into English I asked the CLIL team to check it for me. I always learned a lot from the corrections.”