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Method of the Month-CLIL!

Can you learn a language and mathematics or any other subject at the same time? Proponents of the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) method will heartily respond, “yes!" In this newsletter, we will unpack the CLIL approach and give you some great suggestions as to how you can implement CLIL in your classroom, either in-person or online.

What is the difference between language immersion classes and CLIL classes?

Language immersion consists of teaching a subject (math, science etcetera) totally in the target language. Initially, students have no recourse but to struggle to understand the lessons because there is no provision during the class to explain, or teach the target language. Language classes are held separately with no direct connection made to the core subjects being taught.

CLIL curriculums, however, give equal weight both to the subject matter, like math or science, and to teaching the target language. Because the vocabulary of the target language is directly related to the subject being studied, the students immediately see the relevance of the vocabulary. The likelihood of critical learning-friendly neurotransmitters like epinephrin and acetylcholine being released during the lessons all but guarantees retention of not only the subject matter but also the target language vocabulary.

A typical CLIL based lesson might look like this:

Subject: Science (Biology) Grade Level: High School Language: English


  1. Students will learn about the structure and function of plant cells.

  2. Students will be able to use vocabulary related to plant cells in English.

  3. Students will be able to describe the main parts of a plant cell in English.


  • Diagrams of plant cells

  • PowerPoint presentation

  • Vocabulary cards


  1. Introduction (10 min): Teacher introduces the topic of plant cells and shows a diagram on the board.

  2. Vocabulary Review (10 min): Teacher goes over the vocabulary related to plant cells and has students repeat after him/her.

  3. PowerPoint Presentation (20 min): Teacher goes over the PowerPoint presentation that covers the structure and function of plant cells.

  4. Group Activity (20 min): Students work in small groups to label the parts of a plant cell on a diagram.

  5. Whole-Class Discussion (10 min): Teacher asks students to describe the main parts of a plant cell in English.

  6. Conclusion (10 min): Teacher reviews the key points of the lesson and reminds students of the importance of knowing the structure and function of plant cells.


  • Students will be assessed on their ability to label the parts of a plant cell accurately and describe the main parts in English.

  • Teacher will observe and take notes on students' participation in the group activity and whole-class discussion.

This is just one example of a CLIL lesson plan, and the structure and content can vary depending on the subject, language, and grade level.

How can we incorporate the CLIL principles in your language teaching?

When we incorporate interesting physical tasks into our lessons we are following the CLIL Principles. For example, teach your class how to bake a cake, change a tire, fill out a form, but at them same time, teach the relevant vocabulary of these tasks in the target language. The class would probably last an hour and you would use a variety of the over 30 teaching methods we train you in during our course.

Check out a segment of a recent class on the CLIL method during one of our dynamic TESOL/Language instructor programs.

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