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Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Multilingual Classrooms: From Conceptualisation to Implementation to Professional Development

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Over the past three decades, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) has become a well-established and popular approach for developing an additional language through other curricular domains (e.g. science, history) in secondary and increasingly also in primary schools in Europe. CLIL is underpinned by the belief that language development is promoted through application and exploration in meaningful contexts associated with content learning, while the development of content knowledge and skills is promoted by focusing on their linguistic foundations and the learning thereof. As such, it is relevant both to teachers who want to provide students with additional opportunities for foreign language learning within the existing curriculum, and to teacher who wants to ensure that EAL students are given the same educational opportunities as non-EAL students. However, it also places specific demands on teachers associated with the integration of content and language didactics, and whilst a great deal of research has been conducted over the years to understand the nature and outcomes of CLIL , there remains a critical need for research into how integrated learning is realised in the classroom, what teacher knowledge and competencies are required for this, and what professional development activities may enable teachers to effectively implement CLIL . In this talk, we will, firstly, set out to define more clearly what CLIL is, addressing its notoriously fuzzy boundaries as well as some of the learning theories and principles underlying this particular pedagogical approach. We will then report on two collaborative research projects between the UK and the Netherlands that aimed to 1) identify the professional knowledge-base of effective CLIL teaching in multilingual primary schools, and 2) define the features of effective teacher preparation for integrated teaching in the primary years. By bringing together the expertise and teacher practical knowledge from the English as an additional language (EAL) context in the UK, with that from the early English teaching context in the Netherlands, this talk will offer reflections on key pedagogical knowledge and principles for CLIL teaching and teacher training, as well as on specific contextual opportunities for integrated teaching and capacity building in the UK.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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