Tag: politics

CLIL in Practice – An Example Activity

CLIL in Practice – An Example Activity

What is CLIL? 

2200500024_e93db99b61.jpgThe acronym CLIL stands for “Content and language integrated learning” and was coined by David Marsh to denote an approach to language teaching with a dual aim, namely learning a foreign langauge and simultaneously learning something new about a subject, new content.  

In their 2010 book, Coyle, Hood & Marsh present four components – the 4Cs  – of CLIL

Content (What are the learning outcomes regarding the subject content?).

Cognition (What higher-order thinking skills are included to encourage meaningful learning?). 

Communication (What language and skills will be learnt and what langauge and skill swill be practised?).

Culture (How can the activity promote awareness and tolerance in students, and an interest in looking beyond the ‘self’?) 

Here is an example lesson project that encompasses the 4Cs of CLIL:

Example CLIL Project: Mock general election


In this project, one class group is one constituency in the UK. If you have several class groups, each of them can represent one constituency. If students or teacher need a basic introduction to egovenment/parliament and elections in the UK, the PPT below can be used [3].

Students in the class / in each class are divided into~5x pairs or small groups , each of which represents one of the main British political parties (e.g. Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens). Each group nominates one candidate, whose name will appear on the ballot paper (the teacher should make these [1]).

In their party groups, students research the general philosophy of their party and use the party’s website and other promotional material to inform themselves about the main policy ideas of their party. This can be done as homework or in class, and can be supported by providing a webquest or worksheet where necessary – this can also be used to introduce and practise key election / political vocabulary. If this is done in class, with further research at home, the teacher could also provide basic information about the parties to help guide students [2].

Once they have a general idea about their party, students should create a slogan to accompany their election campaign. This can also be written or edited after the next stage.

Students are asked to choose 4-5 main policy areas which they deem most relevant to the target voters in their constituency, and to find examples or data which support their party’s policies in these areas. The teacher could also provide statistics, graphs, etc. as data which the students can analyse  to find the most pertinent points for supporting their party’s ideas. This can also be done as homework, and students can then divide up the policy areas to research.

Students watch an example party political broadcast – this should be from a party that is not being used in the mock election, so as to avoid unfair advantage! Students should be guided to notice useful phrses or features of the language (& persuasive techniques) used in the broadcast, and should take note of these. This is best done in class so the teacher can monitor the language noted. A worksheet could be provided with questions to guide students’ attention to specific points of the speech.

eu-parliament-strasbourg.jpgFocussing on the policy areas they have chosen and the supporting evidence they have analysed, and employing the language features they noted down from the party political broadcast, the party groups then create short speeches / party political broadcasts (max. 5 mins) to present and promote their policy ideas to the class group (=target voters). To ensure that all students speak, each one can present one policy idea. Students can also create one poster or PPT slide to advertise their party, main policies, and candidate.

Whilst listening to the parties’ speeches, the audience takes notes on the key policies and how well supported they are in the speech. They can be instructed to use these notes to make their decision about who to vote for.

ballot-1294935_960_720.pngOnce all of the speeches have been heard, the room can be re-arranged to make polling booths, where students will be able to cast their vote anonymously. The teacher hands out the ballot papers, and provides a ballot box for the students to cast their vote in.

Either the teacher, or 2 nominated students count the votes and present the results.


As an extension, students can be invited to discuss the electoral system and analyse the results – this could also be given as a homework writing task.


[3] PPT on government/parliament and elections in the UK: PPT UK Elections

[2] Basic information about political parties (adapted from YVote): Election-political-parties info

[1] Ballot papers (adapted from YVote): Election-ballot-papers_enlarged_with-text-fields

The 4Cs of CLIL in the example activity


  • Understanding the electoral system (first-past-the-post) of UK general elections
  • Understanding the general approaches and some main policy ideas of key political parties in the UK
  • Understanding the principles of British democracy, parliament and government



  • Analysing input texts for biased information
  • Analysing data regarding policy topics
  • Evaluating relevance of various policy topics to the class group (=target voters)
  • Synthesising information from various sources into speech



  • Election-specific language 
  • Argumentational language and techniques of persuasion 
  • Grammar for referring to future time
  • Public speaking skills
  • Functional / operational language to facilitate group work



  • Promoting tolerance of various political views
  • Comparison links to political parties in students’ home country/ies
  • Actively engaging students with the issues around them
  • Helping address the trend of voter disengagement amongst young people
  • Enabling students to become informed and questioning citizens

Best languages to learn

A recent news item, The Telegraph’s “Graduate jobs: Best languages to study”, ranks German, French and Spanish as the most useful languages to learn in order to improve you chances of professional success. Interesting reading, but perhaps even more interesting are the questions which are raised by any discussions of this list:


1) The information on which the list is based comes from a survey conducted in the UK, which means that proficiency in English (being a native English speaker?) as well as one of these ‘foreign’ langauges is what they are actually talking about. Given that, for example, Germans now consitute the fourth largest foreign-born group in the UK, it seems logical to ask whether their job chances are higher than British monoglots (presuming, of course, that they have acquired English to a native-like level). And if so, how do various groups of people feel about this? I, for one, would love to think that the English skills I’m teaching my students mean they have a higher chance of professional success on the international market. On the other hand, though, that might mean that my own friends and family within the UK could lose out on the job front to the bilingual Germans I’m ‘sending over’ to Britain. Opinions on a postcard please! (By “postcard”, I mean, leave your comment below, thank you!)

2) The justification for German being ranked as the ‘best language to study’ includes the comment that Germany, as “Europe’s largest economy – with a GDP of more than €2.4 trillion – continues to defy the eurozone downturn.” Now this is a point unrelated to language teaching/learning, but my first thought is – “really?” For those of us living in Germany, it doesn’t particularly feel like the economy is here continuing to “defy the eurozone turndown”. Cue irrate political discussion. Opinions on a postcard please!

3) It’s all well and good being told which languages might be helpful to learn, but in my experience it’s rather difficult to convince many Brits to learn any foreign language at all! I wonder whether this little article will be able to change this wide-spread lack of enthusiasm? Opinions on a postcard please!

4) One of the comments on the article also offers plenty of discussion material, stating firstly that “Learning any European language is a waste of time since nearly all European businessmen speak English” (is the only benefit of learning a foreign language being able to communicate with European businessmen?!), and then that “nearly all European businessmen speak English, some even better than English people themselves” (My reactions: “ouch!” and “really?”). Ooh err, very contraversial! Opinions on a postcard, please!

Despite the potential for debate here, it seems the article is presenting good news for any L1 English EFL teachers living and working abroad who acquire communicative compentence in a foreign langauge! Not only would we (apparently) have a better chance of getting a job back in the UK, should we (ever want to) return, but as the comment about Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt shows, having lived and worked (as a teacher) bestows upon us other transferable skills that can lead into very diverse professions. Though whether many EFL teachers want to get into politics is probably debatable!

The news item: “Graduate jobs: Best languages to study”, The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group Limited, n.d., http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9487434/Graduate-jobs-Best-languages-to-study.html?frame=2314799, accessed 27.04.2013