Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Review ~ CLIL

Review ~ CLIL

A practical and realistic look at the recently very trendy approach of CLIL that doesn’t skimp on the theory either
Reviewed for Teflnet by Leahn Stanhope


At first glance I thought this book would be another book about the recent TEFL buzzword “CLIL” that left me with more questions than answers. Luckily I was wrong. The book answered and resolved many of the doubts that I was harboring about Content and Language Integrated Learning.

The book CLIL draws on the extensive knowledge and experience of the authors to give a comprehensive overview of Content and Language Integrated Learning. It is divided broadly into three sections: the background to CLIL, classroom practice and, ways of sustaining and critically assessing CLIL.

It is written with Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Vocational levels in mind and is divided into eight chapters. Each chapter deals with a relevant theme in CLIL, from an introduction to CLIL in the first chapter, to the last chapter on future directions.

The book starts by giving a comprehensive picture of the development of CLIL in chapter one, looking at how and why it came about as an educational approach. It is followed in chapter two by helpful examples of the ways in which different schools have implemented CLIL using differing models.

Next comes the theory behind the practice, in chapter three. This chapter is a great read and really helpful, as most other CLIL books I have read skimmed over this part. It was really useful to learn more about the importance of cognitive engagement, the 4Cs framework and The Language Triptych.

Perhaps my favourite chapter is chapter four, which in the words of the authors details a “unique” CLIL teacher’s Tool Kit. This chapter describes six stages for teachers to create a personalized Tool Kit to map their CLIL practice. It is really useful, gives plenty of ideas for reflection and includes an appendix which shows how the tool kit is being used by teachers in practice.

Chapter five focuses on materials and task design. One of the things that I like about this unit is that it acknowledges the difficulty in finding appropriate material and offers handy tips to teachers on how to modify and design appropriate materials. This chapter is really useful for any practising teacher, for the help it gives and the concrete examples of tasks and activities employed in the field by teachers.

Chapter six raises and discusses the theme of assessment. It tries to answer some of the more complicated questions CLIL practitioners have about assessment, such as “What do we assess, language or content?” or “How can/should we assess group work?”. It also looks at the importance of using peer- and self-assessment and gives valuable concrete examples of assessment tasks.

The final part of the book, chapters seven and eight, deal with evaluating the impact of CLIL programmes and looking at future directions.

The book is littered with mind maps, charts and other visuals which make it easier to digest.

CLIL the book undoubtedly gives a comprehensive overview of CLIL the approach. It is informative and practical and a great resource to have. I work as a language assistant in a CLIL programme in both a primary and a secondary school and I found this book a great read. It answered many of my doubts about assessment, and the design of materials.

This book recognizes the difficulties involved in CLIL and goes a long way in helping to address and resolve them. It would make a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in or involved in CLIL, as an introduction or for more experienced practitioners.

Reviewed by Leahn Stanhope for Teflnet December 2010

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Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Review ~ CLIL