Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)


CLIL –  is a part of European Commission Multilingualism, Foreign Language teaching projects. During the CLIL program, teachers educate pupils’ with curricular subjects through communicative foreign language teaching. In CLIL teachers and learners, of content subjects, use a foreign or second language as the medium of communication and instruction.

CLIL is widely seen as an excellent means of learning a language, and introducing international aspects into the teaching of content subjects. CLIL methodologies and theories have been taken up from the North (Sweden) to South (Spain) of the European Union and even in to Asia, Africa and South America.

This program has been established decades ago in Europe, but in Lithuania CLIL it is still a kind of a novelty. The aim of this course project is to get acquainted with CLIL’S basic definitions, theories and history. Meanwhile the objectives are to investigate the status of CLIL in Lithuania and to forecast it’s perspectives in science teaching.


CLIL is Content and Language Integrated Learning.

It is a learning approach that enables the study of another curricular subject through the medium of a foreign language.

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CLIL is the particular focus on a spectrum of cross-curricular teaching of languages that is currently receiving increased attention, as researchers and practitioners work to develop a place for it in mainstream education, as opposed to experimental project-based settings. CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content, and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language.  This approach involves learning subjects such as history, geography or others, through an additional language.

It can be very successful in enhancing the learning of languages and other subjects, and developing in the youngsters a positive ‘can do’ attitude towards themselves as language learners. The subject can be entirely unrelated to language learning. For example: History lessons being taught in English in a school in Spain. CLIL is frequently viewed as an extension of communicative language teaching, with more emphasis on pupils activity, clear goal orientation and explicit on content-specific, real-world connections. This is much more different from contexts where subject teachers are teaching their content through the medium of a foreign language . The guiding principle for the latter is predominantly the meeting of the demands of the content curriculum.

The term CLIL was launched in 1994 by some of the Consortium experts as an educational solution for meeting certain challenges associated with language learning in Europe. Since then it has spread exponentially across the continent. Since 2000, there has also been uptake of CLIL methodologies in Asia, Africa and South America to either boost levels of language learning, or solve problems associates with the use of “foreign” languages as medium instruction. Globally, educational systems strive to achieve results which re always culturally and context-specific. Global uptake of CLIL has resulted in a range of different models being designed and implemented. Gisella Lange points out the year 1997 as the starting point of CLIL in Europe, the essence of which was the shift from “teaching o foreign language to a foreign language as a medium instruction“. The reasons behind this shift were:

  • to offer a new methodological approach ;
  • to improve quality in language teaching;
  • to increase exposure to language learning;
  • to guarantee a European perspective.

CLIL is a truly European topic , spanning the continent geographically from the North (Sweden) to the South(Spain)What is true of most educational issues also applies to CLIL is that it comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes.


According to the theoretical definitions we can assume, that CLIL, has the following benefits: 1. CLIL is a member of the curriculum club. . CLIL has a dual focus. 3. CLIL buys us time. CLIL causes good change. CLIL motivates. CLIL is a member of the curriculum club. According to the European Commission: “Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), in which pupils learn a subject through the medium of a foreign language… ” This quotation endorses CLIL as a member of the curricular club. It seems uncontroversial because we do not know to what extent or to what level pupils ‘learn a subject’ through the foreign language, and we are left unaware of any reasons for doing CLIL. . CLIL has a dual focus. According to more detailed description: “CLIL refers to situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content, and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language”.

This quote highlights some of the educational intention inherent to the CLIL paradigm. Through CLIL-type practice, subject content is learned at the same time with a foreign language. The ‘dual-focused’ objective would seem to be implying that CLIL shoots two birds at the same time.  CLIL buys us time. In European Commission’s quotation we encounter the following phrase: “It [CLIL] provides exposure to the language without requiring extra time in the curriculum”. This should promote an approach with a twin set of objectives. One of these objectives is clearly educational (to learn subject content and a foreign language) and the other is administrative.

Since educational and administrative needs often fight for space, this seems a good way to promote peace between them. In the European Council Resolution in 1995 is said, “…all EU citizens, by the time they leave compulsory schooling, should be able to speak two languages other than the mother tongue”. Curricula is attempting to achieve this aim have been getting more and more desperate in their attempts to find timetabling space. Instead of studying for example Geography in the mother tongue language, we should do it in a foreign language. Pupils learn the same subject concepts and skills, but increase contact time with the foreign language – crucial consideration in the improvement of attainment levels.

CLIL causes change. David Graddol wrote that CLIL is: “…an approach to bilingual education in which both curriculum content (such as science or geography) and English are taught together. It differs from simple English-medium education in that the learner is not necessarily expected to have the English proficiency required to cope with the subject before beginning study”. Graddol suggests that a powerful element of CLIL is its role in the improvement of language skills, and that pupils do not necessarily need a particularly high level of foreign language attainment. The teachers would have to adjust their methodology to ensure that the students understood the content. They would have to think of other means (group work, tasks, etc) which would result in an increase of the skill-based focus of the learning.  The educational materials (textbooks) would also have to reflect this approach.

The pupils would be learning language that was more clearly focused on, and related to, the subject matter that they needed to learn. CLIL is not confined to higher-achieving students. It fits in perfectly with a mixed-ability philosophy. So we might say that the phenomenon described above is desirable in educational terms. Ensuring that students understand the content, reducing teacher-talk, increasing the focus on skills, influencing publishers to do likewise and getting students to learn language items that are always contextualized, always functionally necessary at any level of curricular discourse.

CLIL motivates Another quote: “CLIL is about using languages to learn… It is about installing a ‘hunger to learn’ in the student. It gives opportunity for him/her to think about and develop how s/he communicates in general, even in the first language”. From the first part we can see that CLIL views language as a ‘vehicle’, not simply as an entity in itself. This is a central component of the CLIL package. David Graddol said something similar too in his book English Next, when he talked about the world now viewing English not so much as a language but as a core skill. This is a crucial observation, and it lies at the heart of the educational and social change that has taken place since the development of the Internet and the parallel growth in globalization.

As English becomes an essential add-on to any curricular program around the world, it is moving into a position where it becomes a subject that pupils learn in order to do something else.   A dual-focused CLIL encapsulates perfectly this post-modern, utilitarian view of the English language. Liberal educationalists may not agree with it, but for the time being it is here to tay. In its defense, CLIL also seems to contribute to the buzz-concept of our times – namely ‘motivation’. Teachers’ forums talk about it endlessly, as do the blurbs on the back of scholastic textbooks and the opening lines of ministerial declarations. In CLIL there is a chance that they are being asked their opinions because the expression of opinions is a key competence in the syllabus content.


There was always a big interest in alternative methods of language instruction and understanding of foreign cultures. In ancient times it was very popular to learn another language in the language’s country of origin and to familiarize with the culture at the same time. In the middle ages many people were multilingual, although it is known that (except from Latin) no language was taught systematically in the schools or in other educational institutions. Foreign languages were learned through the interaction with speakers (people from foreign countries), mostly from trade or professional interests. In the 18 th and 19th century governesses were employed by aristocratic families.

The governesses used their native tongue, French language, to instruct the children. The children had acquired new language as a foreign or frequently as a second language, as they used it to learn the contents of whatever it was they were taught: history, geography, or other subjects. So the roots of CLIL lies at this ancient linguistic cultural learning . Simultaneous integrated learning of a language and a particular subject by using foreign language as the language of instruction and learning.

For a considerable time now, schools exist all over the world in which all school subjects are taught not in the local language, but in one of the world’s great cultural languages. German schools abroad, French academic high schools, British boarding schools and for some time now the schools set up by international institutions for the children of their employees are modern examples of alternative methods that depart from traditional curricular instruction and make use of this underlying principle of bilingual instruction, the integration of a foreign language and school ubject matter.

But it is conspicuous that the schools mentioned above are almost exclusively elite schools, where the term “elite“ not only refers to the high intellectual capabilities of the students, but also to the financial options available to their parents that make it possible for them to send their children to these schools. This process of selection over a long period of time had led to this decidedly attractive form of learning being available only to a minority of young people. Through the establishment of so-called bilingual branches in normal regular schools (academic high schools and secondary schools), especially in Germany and Austria in the second half of the 20th century, bilingual curricular instruction was made available to students from all levels of society.

The language policy of the European Union (every E. U. citizen should be able to speak at least two languages of the Union in addition to his native language) has resulted in bilingual curricular instruction having gained a high level of acceptance and support in all of Europe. The number of concepts referring to this didactic idea is surprisingly large. In the English-language context, concepts such as. Teaching Content through a Foreign Languag. Dual Focused Instruction. Bilingual Content Teaching. Content Based Language Teaching. These terms also make it clear that the basic concept of bilingual learning is interpreted in different ways. During the past decade a concept has established itself in the English- and French-speaking cultural areas that are being increasingly used to refer to this idea:  Content and Language Integrated Learning((English) abbreviated as CLIL).

Enseignement d’une Matiere par l’Integration d’une Language Etrangere ((French) abbreviated as EMILE). It is surely a welcome development that, in spite of the diversity of interpretations of this idea inherent in these concepts, a uniform term is beginning to emerge, one that allows an unbiased perspective on this approach. But this also necessitates a definition that does justice to the diversity inherent in the concepts. Such a definition was already proposed at the start of this century and presented in slightly modified form in the Eurydice Report of the European Union (Eurydice Report, 2006). It runs as follows: ? The acronym CLIL is used as a generic term to describe all types of provision in which a second language (a foreign, regional or minority language and/or another official state language) is used to teach certain subjects in the curriculum other than the language lessons themselves.


In Lithuania CLIL was initiated only in 2002 by the Ministry of Education and Science. The subject’s taught in foreign languages – English, French and German-include informatics, technology, history, ethics, and geography. Other subjects including art, business and cultural studies, music, biology, economics, healthy life style, mathematics, were used rarely. Humanities and creative subjects are definitely preferred as options for CLIL projects. The integration of languages and humanities in Lithuania seems to work better. Language teachers feel more confident about teaching other subject through foreign languages than subject teachers teaching in foreign languages.

The most widely used model of teaching CLIL is subject and language teachers working in teams. CLIL is viewed in a positive light. The teachers in Lithuania perceive integrated teaching as a possibility for professional growth. Teachers are also motivated by the possibility to learn methods and approaches . By far the largest advantages as seen is the expansion of knowledge , both language and subject . Integrated teaching is primarily seen as a mean of developing language skills. Studies abroad are mentioned as a second biggest advantage.

Other advantages that are mentioned by Lithuanian teachers are the development of IT skills, co-operation possibilities, career opportunities, higher motivation and increased competitiveness. Some teachers also mention the use of authentic materials and authentic tasks as one of the biggest advantages of approach. Recently an investigation has been done by Ruta Veteryte, Management Teacher and Vilmante Liubiniene, English/ESP Teacher, to find out the situation of CLIL in Lithuania in various education levels. The results were following: Pre primary level.

Nowadays it has become a fashion, to offer language classes in some kindergartens. (Especially in English language). Primary level. A foreign language is being taught from 1st year only in some profiled schools.  Secondary level. Beginning with the secondary level all schools provides studies of foreign languages. This lasts approximately for 7 years. In some gymnasiums students study such subjects as Economics or Physics in a foreign language, but this is not a very common practice. Tertiary level. All students study foreign languages at least for a year, not depending on whether they are college or university students.

Some higher education institutions train language specialists; others develop general skills of students in foreign languages up the advanced level. Studies of foreign languages differ a great deal among the universities. The length of language studies usually is restricted to one academic year. During this year some universities offer the courses of general English/German/French. When students reach the required level of language skills they are allowed to continue language studies choosing some alternatives, like Business English, English for Academic Purposes and etc.

Other universities right from the beginning offer specialized language studies (ESP), depending on the profile of the Faculty(English for Law, English for Economics and Management, English for Environmental Studies, etc. ). Still, there are universities, which offer a variety of subjects to be taught in foreign languages. This is a common practice in Social Sciences, Economics, Engineering, and etc. Some universities have special units like International Study Centers that organize most of the studies in a foreign language. Students have a possibility to attend the courses offered by the visiting or native professors.


A research has been done by Doctor. Vilmante Liubiniene [? ], in Lithuania , Kaunas University of technology , in Faculty of Social Sciences in order to verify theoretical assumptions of CLIL discussed in Chapter 2. A group of first year students in tertiary level were chosen and exposed to CLIL teaching methods during course “English through Sociology“.For comparison another group of students were included, as a control group. Observation has been done for a whole academic year and results tested in the form of survey at the end. The questionnaire was also composed by Doctor. Vilmante Liubiniene. It was composed according to the theoretical assumptions of Marsh and Krashen, plus some additional questions on language and subject skills. Respondents had to answer 28 questions. In the table below we can see the results of Doctor.

Results were based on self-evaluation questionnaire (ranging from-1the least till 5- the most)indicates that CLIL students have become more proficient and have achieved better results as compared to the other students learning a foreign language. These findings gave proof to Krashen’s hypothesis and Marsh four dimension hypotheses. According to the results in Table 6. 1 it is obvious that CLIL students are more proficient than regular students, and CLIL has a positive impact on a versatile education. CLIL students in this investigation, have clearly improved overall foreign language competence and increased learner’s motivation.


According to the investigation in Chapter 5 and research in Chapter 6, that were held in Lithuania, we can assume, various findings. In the investigation described in Chapter 5, we can clearly see that in Lithuania, there are no CLIL until secondary level of education. In the secondary level of education CLIL is a very rear practice, and as a rule it is held in English language only. Meanwhile foreign languages are being taught at least for seven years, and sometimes since pre-primary level. Situation remarkably changes in tertiary level, where CLIL is applied in three languages. Lithuanian colleges and universities offer, not only subject learning, but even whole studies according to the CLIL program.

In research, shown in Chapter 6, shows up a clear view, that CLIL in tertiary level, in this case – university is absolutely successful. And it satisfies most of the European Union’s theoretical assumptions. It means that science teaching in universities, based on CLIL program is very successful, useful and perspective. But according to the European Council Resolution in 1995: “…all EU citizens, by the time they leave compulsory schooling, should be able to speak two languages other than the mother tongue”. It means, that CLIL program should be applied in Secondary level of education (alongside with tertiary). Keeping in mind that compulsory schooling in Lithuania is tenth grade , indicates that CLIL should be practiced in earlier classes , not in the graduate ones.

In my opinion applying CLIL in secondary schools more often and much earlier would cause more problems, to the teachers, and rarely to the pupils. Teachers on the other hand might face the following obstacles: Opposition to language teaching by subject teachers may come from language teachers themselves. Subject teachers may be unwilling to take on the responsibility.  Most current CLIL programs are experimental. There are few sound research-based empirical studies, while CLIL-type bilingual programs are mainly seen to be marketable products in the private sector. CLIL is based on language acquisition, but in monolingual situations, a good deal of conscious learning is involved, demanding skills from the subject teacher.

The lack of CLIL teacher-training programs suggests that the majority of teachers working on bilingual programs may be ill-equipped to do the job adequately. There is little evidence to suggest that understanding of content is not reduced by lack of language competence. Current opinion seems to be that language ability can only be increased by content-based learning after a certain stage.  Some aspects of CLIL are unnatural; such as the appreciation of the literature and culture of the learner’s own country through a second language. Putting an effort, by both teachers and pupils, would result in very successful, proficient and perspective science teaching.  Teaching foreign language through content of subject is a useful educational strategy in multilingual education.

The emphasis on content and on communication initiates teaching and learning process. During the investigation of CLIL situation in Lithuania, I found out that in the secondary level of education, CLIL is a very rear practice and as a rule it is held in English language only. Meanwhile in tertiary level, CLIL is applied in three languages. In Lithuanian colleges and universities there are not only subject learning, but whole studies are based on CLIL program. According to the research, science teaching in universities, based on CLIL program, is very successful, useful and perspective. Pupils will graduate school by being more proficient and knowing more than one foreign language, if the CLIL program would be implemented to lower secondary education classes and expanded widely between Lithuanian schools, And this would lead us to the conclusion, that CLIL has huge perspectives in science and foreign language teaching and learning.


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  2.  Global Cooperation in Engineering Education. Proceedings of International conference. Kaunas University of Tehcnology. 2008
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Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). (2017, Dec 23). Retrieved from

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
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