Enhancing Learning Through CLIL Materials and Criteria

CLIL is Content language integrated learning

It refers to teaching subjects to students through a foreign language. This can be by the English teacher (cross-curricular) or the subject teacher using English as the language of instruction. PLURILINGUALISM does not mean a perfect command of several languages but the attempt to use one’s linguistic knowledge and skills to communicate with others in many different situations.


Teachers comment on the shortage of readymade resources but this is changing thanks to an increasing number of websites devoted to the exchange of CLIL material and some publishers creating textbooks following CLIL. Teachers have to adapt materials to their students. TEACHING MATERIALS can be defined as information and knowledge that are represented in a variety of formats and support achievement of intended learning outcomes. They are in adherence with the objectives and requirements of a regional or national curriculum.

Advantages of Published Materials

  • Saves a lot of planning time
  • Helps to identify resources
  • Can offer useful support as a teacher develops in confidence and knowledge
  • Curriculum materials can provide exciting resources for children and teachers to use

Disadvantages of Published Materials

  • May limit the extent to which teachers use children’s initial ideas as a starting point
  • May reduce the use made of the school’s own environment and context
  • May limit the opportunities to cross-curricular links
  • May limit the opportunities for interaction
  • May limit opportunities to plan for the different needs of children (by implying that they all move on at the same pace)
  • May become boring for the children (and for the teacher)


Progression in new knowledge, skills and understanding. COGNITION: Content is related to learning and thinking. To enable learners to create their own understanding and interpretation of content, they must be engaged in higher-order thinking (hypothesizing and problem solving) activities. COMMUNICATION: Interaction in the learning context is fundamental to learning. The language needs to be transparent and accessible. CULTURE: As teachers, we must develop “self” and “other” awareness, identity, citizenship and progression towards pluricultural understanding.

The CLIL Pyramid

It was designed to visually represent the idea that quality CLIL based on the 4Cs-Framework, could only be achieved when all 4Cs where considered in lesson planning and materials construction. Therefore, it was developed as an integrative planning tool. The Pyramid suggests a systematic sequence for planning CLIL units and materials, starting with topic selection and ending with a review of key content and language.

Quality Materials

Help how students understand how learning is and can be applied in and outside of school. Be targeted to build intrinsic motivation to problem-solve and learn. Develop students’ content knowledge and language skills so that they are able to comprehend, conceptualize, systematize, appreciate and contemplate facts and experiences, and so that they are able to effectively communicate their own understandings and opinions through speech and writing. Promote critical and creative thought, discussion and learner autonomy. Build intercultural knowledge, skills and constructive attitudes vis-à-vis diverse peoples and cultures. MAKE LEARNING meaningful

  • Ask students to explain how intended learning is tied to their lives
  • Seek to connect intended learning with students’ interests and their lives
  • Make connections to previous learning when presenting new facts and concepts
  • Seek to deepen previous learning
  • Draw cross-curricular links and incorporate cross-curricular projects
  • Foster cooperative learning, visualization and hands-on activities
  • Offer students choice, and some control over the learning process
  • Focus on fostering critical thinking including applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating

Enrich learning environments where students can simultaneously learn both content and language, whilst becoming more adept learners of both. Are cognitively highly demanding for learners who need to assume the additional challenge of learning through a L2. Help students build a sense of security in experimenting with language, content, and the management of their own learning. Are highly integrative and multilayered and they help increase the likelihood that both content and language learning will be meaningful.

Ten Criteria for Creating CLIL Materials
  1. Making the learning intentions (language, content, learning skills) and process visible
  2. Systematically fostering academic language proficiency
  3. Fostering learning skills development and learner autonomy
  4. Including self, peer and other types of formative assessment
  5. Helping create a safe learning environment
  6. Fostering cooperative learning
  7. Seeking ways of incorporating authentic language and authentic language use
  8. Fostering critical thinking
  9. Fostering cognitive fluency through scaffolding of:-content language and learning skills development
  10. Helping to make learning meaningful

LANGUAGE CAN BE SCAFFOLDED by repeating new nouns as opposed to using pronouns, asking students to first brainstorm related language, presenting information in two side-by-side boxes using two different registers of language. CONTENT can be by using other graphic organizers, highlighting or underlining key ideas or facts, providing exemplars of good work.


  1. Material for input and input-scaffolding: Real objects, instruments and manipulatives. Vocabulary presentation through multisensory media (video, songs, picture flashcards, word flashcards, etc). Kinaesthetic activities (physical learning) Powerpoint presentations with pictures, diagrams, etc.
  2. Materials to develop language and foster communication skills: Personal dossier or notebook that includes key words from each lesson. Classroom displays with key expressions and language for each unit. Labelled diagrams showing procedures. Speaking substitution tables for verbalizations and expositions. Adapted Texts
  3. Materials to develop and scaffolding cognition and problem solving: Manipulatives are objects that are commonly used in teaching mathematics and other subjects. They can be anything “movable” when solving a problem or developing a task. Manipulatives can reach all learning styles to include spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, opposed to only auditory and logical reasoning. Manipulatives give students a hands-on and concrete understanding of concepts, making it easier for them to communicate and interact with their peers, their teacher or their parents. Apart from manipulative material we can also use: Graphic organizers Thinking games such as the ones in Thinker’s key. Online games for thinking skills, strategies, or challenging problem solving.