Now you have looked at classroom practice, the principles of a CLIL approach and some Lesson Plans, you can start to identify your own way forward – your Learning Pathway. In this section you will explore how to create CLIL lessons for yourself. To do this you will find out first how the Lesson Plans (in Resources) were created and why the teachers who made them chose these approaches.
The media in this section are varied to reflect the diversity of teachers and schools. Various terms are used for the learners, such as children, pupils and students. You can use your learning log throughout to reflect on your personal rationale, motivation and context, in order to see how you might develop professionally, and to note your own thoughts on the steps you wish to take.
Some specific suggestions in this section are included in a box like this and prefixed by the words ‘learning log’.
Lesson planning is quite a personal task, and there can be variations in formats of lesson plans
between countries or regions, between subjects taught and even between individual teachers in the
same faculty or subject area. However lesson plans share some key purposes and features, reminding the teacher of:
- the main learning outcomes of the lesson
- prior learning in that area
- resources for use in the lesson
- learning activities that are likely to (or have already been proved to) reach the desired outcomes
- assessment opportunities
- the likely progression into future learning
Here once again is the template ELAPSE teachers used for their CLIL lessons:
Because of the twofold aims of a CLIL lesson – subject content learning and language learning – it is clear that there are likely to be some additional elements to consider when planning a lesson using CLIL approaches. Looking at the ELAPSE template which do you consider most important?
The first lesson plan we will explore comes from Austria, where Ronald Kemsies teaches English. He describes how he constructed his lesson, located his resources, and considered elements of follow-up and assessment.
Ron identifies two routes into planning lessons – one springing from curriculum need, and one arising from discovery of a stimulating resource.
He refers to language level A2, which comes from the Common European Framework of Reference for languages and equates roughly speaking to ‘Can communicate in simple and routine tasks’.
What sorts of resources in the target language do the classes you teach find stimulating?
The Cartoon lesson arose from the discovery of the online resource which involves practical, creative activity.
A practical lesson like this one lends itself to a CLIL approach especially well because of the natural potential a teacher (or a resource) has to model the activity to the class, using the target language.
In, say, a Food Technology lesson, a technology lesson or a dance lesson, it is standard practice at times for the teacher to demonstrate how certain things are done (what we call modelling).
Bearing this in mind, and having heard Ron describe how he planned to model use of the cartoon software, is there an element of your school’s curriculum which you can identify as being a good target for a pilot CLIL lesson?
Which area? (There may be more than one.)
Which themes/elements? Why have you chosen those?
How long might the element/theme you have chosen take to deliver?
How much do you use modelling? What sort of support for learning do you regularly use?
Going back to the Theme you identified above ….
If you were to focus on a single lesson from that theme, what would it be?
What resources would you need? Do they exist already somewhere in school? Do you have a colleague who could help you plan/deliver?
What would be the subject content of the lesson? Does that involve specific terminology?
In general terms, what language would you need to use to run the lesson? And what language would the class need to know to participate fully?
Would your pupils have any of that language already? If not what preparation could you put in place?
Are there reading and listening inputs?
How would the pupils demonstrate their learning and their language competence?
Are there oral and written outcomes?
While thinking about these points, or in discussion with colleagues, you might change your mind about the best target for a pilot CLIL lesson.
As and when you can answer these questions you have what you need to fill in the Lesson Plan template above.
To explore the second lesson plan we move to Scotland, focus on ‘The 5 senses’ and on activating prior knowledge.
Before starting a new topic, it is important that you find out what learners already know about it and create links with what they will be learning.
Activating prior knowledge will engage your learners in the lesson and help them make sense of the new topic, as connecting new learning to prior knowledge will help it ‘stick’.
So, creating links between what learners already know and what they will be learning is essential.
This could be done partly in L1 (the Language of instruction) if necessary, as the goal here is to activate parts of the brain which have stored information about the topic.
While teachers are encouraged to use the target language throughout, it is a fact that learners will need to express themselves in L1 at times, especially in the ‘prior knowledge activation’ stage.
The use of ‘code switching’- occasional switching from the target language to L1 – is recognised by many as a valid and effective teaching/learning strategy if used judiciously and for specific purposes.
Can you think of some activities that you would use to find out what your learners know about a topic?
Some examples of activities used in the ‘5 senses’ set of resources and how to run them are given below.
Referring to the 5 senses PowerPoint, you will find activities to help you cover the ‘reflecting’ element.
- Slide 5: Reflecting – Ask learners to reflect on their knowledge of the 5 senses and find the 5 associated words in French.
The 5 senses – Activating prior knowledge and introduction of content.
What can I do to activate my learners’ prior knowledge on the 5 senses?
As you read this section, make a note of the strategies suggested.
Which of these approaches to activating prior knowledge, language and concepts appeal to you most? Why?
Here are some examples of activities:
i) Guess the topic!
Engage your learners in the new topic by getting them to try and guess what it’s going to be about.
Write down some of the key vocabulary on the board (you could write 5 body parts related to the senses, for instance, and 5 action verbs also related to the senses.)
Tell your learners that they have to look at these words and try to guess what their new topic of study is going to be.
In small groups or pairs, let them look at the vocabulary and discuss their ideas.
You can encourage them to make links between the words they see in the target language and their L1, to help them guess the meaning.
Get them to give a title to the topic and then write down any other vocabulary they can think of, related to the topic.
You can then write down their answers, repeating/modelling using the target language, write down extra vocabulary and then get your learners to complete a mind map or spider diagram.
ii) Graphic organisers such as a spider diagram
Tell your learners that you are going to look at the topic of the 5 senses together.
Write: ‘the 5 senses’ in your target language in the middle of the board.
Learners are in 5 groups.
Brainstorm with the whole class, using simple questions in the target language, such as:
What are the 5 senses?
What parts of the body play a role in the senses?…
They can of course give you their answers in L1.
As they give answers, model in the target language, orally first and then in writing, in the target language, at the side of the board.
Once you’ve obtained information about each of the 5 senses, ask learners, in small groups, to make a spider diagram with all the vocabulary on the board.
You could decide that at this point, all you want to present are the names of the 5 senses, the associated parts of the body and the action verbs associated with each sense.
Get them to think of how they organise the information, to obtain a result something like this.
You might have each group working on all 5 senses at the same time, or alternatively, have them working on one individual sense and then sharing in a plenary session where each group presents their sense, and then make an overall map.
The teacher encourages the learners to use the target language as they present their work, again modelling pronunciation and making simple sentences.
iii) The 5 senses competition
Another way to engage your learners is to add a competitive element.
Tell them what the topic is going to be.
Tell them you are now running a competition: in small groups, they will have to answer questions, such as:
- What are the 5 senses?
- What organs/ parts of the body are related to the 5 senses?
- What can you do which each sense?
Points will be allocated for different criteria, depending on the questions you choose to ask, for instance: fastest to complete / most complete list
Once again, when groups have completed their questionnaire, recap as a whole class, jot down the answers, modelling and writing notes in the target language and get learners to complete a graphic organiser.
Do these match activities you use with your class? Are there any differences? Did you learn anything new?
Once you have used one of these activities to activate your learners’ prior knowledge and introduce some of the key vocabulary, you are ready to start the carefully scaffolded activities suggested in the PowerPoint, which will formally (re-)introduce all the key vocabulary and structures, guide your learners’ understanding using listening, reading, writing and speaking skills, model pronunciation, using rhymes, and encourage learners to draw, in order to help their memorisation.
What strategies do you use to make sure your learners are understanding and progressing throughout the lesson?
In our resources, some of the recapping activities allow for formal or informal formative assessment.
- Slide 6: Using the « C’est quelle partie du corps ? » animation, learners go over the organs/parts of the body associated with the 5 senses.
- Slides 7 to 8: A pronunciation activity, using rhymes to help learners remember how to pronounce the 5 senses words in French. This can be used to reinforce pronunciation rules in French. The animation provides extra opportunity to work on sounds and get learners to try and « beat » the French speaker.
- Slide 9: A recap of the vocabulary for the 5 senses, the associated organs/parts of the body and corresponding illustrations. Learners should try and link them all and make sentences to present their answers.
- Slides 10 to 12: Associated verbs of actions – Learners reflect on verbs they know which could be applied to the 5 senses and write them down. Then, using the animation « Complétez les phrases. », they complete sentences which simply indicate what one does with each sense: I(listen/hear sounds, watch/see colours and shapes, touch textures, taste flavours, smell odours/aromas) with my (ears, eyes, hands/skin, tongue, nose). A vocabulary bank, split in 3 categories, is provided to help them.
- Slides 13 to 14: Reviewing/recapping: Get learners to complete a spider diagram, covering all the information they can remember about the senses (names, associated organs, associated verbs…)
Are there other strategies you use to activate prior knowledge?
Which other visual presentations of information do your learners like to use? How could you support older students in accessing and later creating an Infographic, for example?
The 5 senses – cognition, communication, culture
The following activities focus on the 5 senses individually. They will allow learners to delve into each sense and prepare/present their own activities.
These activities support Cognition, Communication and Culture. Can you link each one to one of the Cs?
- Slides 15 to 27: Hearing – a bank of 20 different sounds is provided (animals, weather elements, clock, heartbeat, bell, telephone, car, plane, helicopter…). Learners listen and note down the number of the sound they hear next to its illustration. They can then associate a French word (from the word bank provided) to each illustration. Encourage them to make full sentences and describe the sound they hear. Please note that the sound bank appears in 3 forms: sounds 1 to 20, sounds 1 to 10 and sounds 11 to 20, should you wish to split the activity into 2 sections. Learners could be encouraged to prepare their own sound bank and test their peers in class.
- Slides 28 to 38: Sight – Learners are encouraged to reflect on what optical illusions are, before being presented with a definition: the paragraph provided contains blanks, which they attempt to fill in with the vocabulary bank provided.
- Slides 40 to 41: Smell – Get learners to prepare their own activity, using opaque small containers, in which they place different items and get their peers to guess what they are. Once learners have prepared a number of these containers, they could be used to play a game such as a « loto des odeurs » (Smell Bingo).
- Slides 44 to 45: Touch – Learners select 5 objects and place them in a bag before getting their peers to try and guess what they are by touching them, without looking of course! They try to describe the shape, size and texture of the object (soft, hard, rough, smooth…).
- Slides 42 to 43: Taste – Learners are encouraged to prepare small portions of various foods/drinks, and ask blindfolded peers to guess what the item is by tasting it. (NB Check on allergies beforehand!) They should try and indicate what taste they perceive: salty, acidic, sweet or bitter. Again, once learners have prepared a number of these containers, they could be used to play a game such as a « loto des saveurs » (Taste Bingo).
Look back through the activities and consider what target language learners would be learning/trying to use while carrying out the activities.
Our third lesson plan investigation takes us to Galicia in North-West Spain for a lesson involving PE and music: Together we conquer the air: Acrosport.
In designing lessons, we take into account the following aspects:
- Curriculum and Content
- Materials / resources
and in this analysis we concentrate on how planning includes structure and cross-curricular outcomes.
Where do you start planning?
Content is your guiding principle. You have identified the subject area and the content you want to teach. Think now in terms of what you want your students to achieve, that is in terms of learning outcomes. Then decide on the specific content and the sequence, bearing in mind that progression is key.
Closely related to content, and determined by it, is language. In a CLIL lesson a careful selection is needed since we are teaching in a foreign language. Think in terms of the essential language you want your students to master.
You will notice that the lesson plan has three sub-areas: language of learning; language for learning and language through learning.
Consider also the role of L1 (the language of instruction) which may have a specific purpose – when discussing attitudes.
There are two main strengths to this lesson plan:
- The content and language really go hand in hand and scaffolding strategies are well-planned.
Physical Education is an ideal subject to implement a CLIL approach since, as Clancy & Hurska (2005) argue, PE settings can be particularly conducive to second language learning They offer conditions similar to those underlying children’s first language acquisition process, where most of the vocabulary and structures are recurrent and involve a physical response, which aids retention. This allows learners to follow the class almost instinctively, thus boosting their confidence and self-esteem, and contributing to assimilation and consolidation of language content.
On the other hand, there may be a lot of specific vocabulary, depending on the sport or activity that is being practised, which could potentially generate insecurity and sometimes hinder class progress.
To overcome those possible obstacles, scaffolding strategies become essential.
For a PE teacher, visual aids are a must, and that is why in this acrosport lesson, flashcards and games with detailed visual descriptions are provided. They play a central role in the lead-in and presentation stage, but they will remain accessible to students at all times. By being displayed on the walls, they serve the triple purpose of modelling postures and grips (content); activating language in case learners have forgotten it; and catering to the diversity or special needs of learners, as the teacher can refer to them to provide extra help.
Accommodating diversity, and developing student’s thinking skills in the CLIL PE lesson is particularly necessary since it is an educational context where the group of students may not all be at the same linguistic or cognitive level. Differentiation can enable effective forms of intervention, which tend to involve individualisation of learning styles.
Just to give an example, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have problems grasping that words may have more than one meaning. These learners cannot be expected to guess new meanings of a word only from its context. Instead, they need to be taught different meanings of words explicitly, so that they can keep an organised record. They also need multiple examples of contexts in which a particular meaning of a word fits. These examples should be given over time, as it will take longer for these students to internalise the new meaning of the word (Konza, 2005).
Also, these students often seem to have more trouble with listening skills, due to the problem of understanding oral input without visual support. As pure listening exercises can be very difficult for them, it is advisable to use written text or images to accompany the oral text. The teacher may also repeat instructions more often and leave some time for answers to any questions. Students with ASD may also have hypersensitivity , so it is important that the voice is not too loud.
Learning Log A:
What specific scaffolding do you notice in the lesson plan? This aspect will be explored further in the next Lesson Plan scrutiny.
What sort of diversity do you encounter in your classes? Can you identify a source of support for developing strategies that support understanding for more of your students?
- Cross-curricular integration.
Cross-curricular learning can strengthen “left brain – right brain” connections leading to enhanced problem-solving abilities. In turn, it also strengthens the sense of achievement that students feel at the completion of a learning activity.
The combination of these two lesson plans (music and acrosport) shows that not every cross-curricular learning activity needs to be lengthy in order to be effective. In fact, much can be gained from including short cross-curricular lessons such as these on a regular basis. In 2010 National Teacher Research Panel, UK published a paper that includes the finding that cross-curricular learning can improve students’ comprehension of problems. It can also improve students’ recognition of “thinking skills” tasks. And cross-curricular learning can improve students’ ability to create multiple responses to problem stimuli.
When we add the language component present in CLIL, we realise that the cross-curricular approach consolidates language learning, since students are reviewing and using language, doing complementary activities and gaining a more holistic experience.
Creativity is, moreover, a potential outcome of our lesson plans: students have to first identify a song of their choice, taking into account its beat and rhythm; and then create a choreography in their PE class. They are thus examining another dimension of the music, breaking it down into chunks, paying attention to tempo and mood to choose the steps and positions, plus they will need to manipulate language to give instructions.
Finally, since there is always a familiar element in the task (whether it be the content or the language), it endows it with a sense of achievability, empowering students and building their confidence, thus fostering their autonomy.
What other positive outcomes would you look for in this sort of lesson?
The focus now moves to communication and scaffolding in the fourth Lesson Plan which relates to Nutrition and Health and comes from our ELAPSE partners in Castilla y León in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
Before viewing the first part of the presentation consider the different phases of a content-based lesson in your target language, and make a list of the sort of general language interactions the learners are engaged in:
Introduction – activating prior knowledge
Presentation – content/concepts/specific language
Activity – in pairs or groups or whole class
Recording – notes, extended writing, etc.
Assessment of/for learning
View screens 1-7 of the presentation and then note specific requirements of what language students would need in order to complete the tasks presented, as well as resource requirements you notice.
While viewing screens 8-13 make a note of the types of communication involved in the students’ activities.
The focus now moves back to scaffolding.
Learning log C
Look back to your notes from the learning logs above and reflect on scaffolding that learners would need to reach the learning outcomes in this particular lesson.
Consider who in your classes needs scaffolding of different sorts.
After viewing the remaining slides you may wish to add notes to your thoughts above.
The next example lesson plan is for primary children, and was originally designed for very young children. We include the discussion with the teacher here as it illustrates very clearly the planning steps which are relevant with any age of learners. The lesson plan can of course be adjusted as needed for older learners.
The interview with Nadine explores these questions, which might be useful in helping you identify the elements you need to prepare for your own lesson.
Which question is most interesting to you at this point?
- How did you work out what you needed to do?
- How did you source your resources?
- How did you create the resources, if you made them?
- How did you think through the different language content (of/for learning)?
- What questions did you ask yourself about e.g. the 4 Cs?
- How did you plan the scaffolding and steps through the lesson?
- What did you put in place to assess the learning from the lesson?
In the following discussion, what was Nadine’s starting point in preparing her lesson and its resources?
What are your thoughts on the best link between language and subject content?
Nadine highlights how organically the CLIL approach fitted with her lesson planning.
In the following discussion, how do you see the aspect of Culture coming through?
How might a multisensory approach, similar to this one, be of benefit to your learners?
What are the key points you note from this teacher’s explanation of her approach to assessment?
Do you have colleagues to work with in planning or delivering lessons? What do you learn here about collaborative working?
Why does the teacher emphasise image-rich resources?
Commentary from a teacher in France on her thinking about a similar Lesson Plan
Culture is important for teachers as well! What aspects do you note in the following commentary that are similar to issues you would consider important in your context? And which are different?
A lesson was created for Primary-aged French children learning English.
The generic objective of this type of lesson is to show young learners that a foreign language can be understood and used in a context other than that of a language lesson at a very early age and that new concepts can be learned through and with this language.
The project must therefore be modest in relation to the targeted language level, pre A1 (in CEFR Terms) in this Primary context, while proposing an approach that requires communication skills (linguistic or other) and involves the acquisition of new knowledge.
The choice of the subject to study in the target language was made on the basis of accessibility of concepts and language. The use of cognates (words that are transparent because of similarity in both languages) was decisive. This facility between English and French however is not always obvious between languages: Spanish and German do though often preserve this transparent aspect of terms..
(Spanish : : planisfera, Océano, Atlántico, Pacífico, Índico, Antártico, Europa, Asia, Africa, Oceanía, América, Sur, Norte, Este, Oeste.
German: Weltkarte, Ozean, Atlantik, Pazifik, Indischer Ozean, Antarktis, Arktis, Europa, Asien, Afrika, Ozeanien, Amerika, Süd, Nord, Ost, West).
The choice of a simplified map of the world is within everyone’s reach and does not pose a problem. Finding a video in English was easy and the one chosen is very interesting. Finding videos in other languages is more complex because the resources are not as numerous.
– In Spanish, we suggest:
– In German, this video is interesting because it shows the difference in the perception of the notion of continent (Oceania/Australia) with a German vision being more logical than the one adopted in France. Another quality of this video is to propose a realistic representation of planet Earth. On the other hand, the video is less attractive for young learners. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgsyhBNgsrg
Our main idea about scaffolding is to use the transparency of words to support the comprehension of sentences that are a priori complex for the target age group. Nevertheless, we needed to keep structures simple, and support communication also pictorially, since the lesson is based entirely on the manipulation of a map of the world or a globe.
As regards the 4Cs we asked ourselves:
Content: What will the learner need to know and master to describe a map of the world (lexicon and structures)?
Cognition: What skills will the learner need to understand the information transmitted? What attitude should the learner have towards a cultural reality different from his /her own?
Communication: What is the learning content? What is the content to enable learning? What could enrich the concepts discussed?
Culture: How can we show in simple terms that people have different ways of looking at the same thing? How can we help pupils understand other people’s points of view? What attitudes will pupils develop in doing this?
This CLIL lesson is similar to a non-CLIL lesson in that it follows the usual patterns of:
- recycling to new content and
- becoming independent.
Assessment was put in place to measure learners’ ability to recycle and reuse vocabulary and structures in a subsequent lesson on the location of the seas around the French coasts, for example.
The cultural aspect is an important element because it allows the language session to be extended to a reflection on representations of the world – figuratively and literally – and thus on our own perceptions. The learner becomes aware that he/she can learn notions of other disciplines through the language, as well as acquire and use the language to express him-/herself in this discipline.
In England we move to a PE lesson context, and explore the nitty-gritty of planning of a practical lesson.
You have the choice this time of reading the interview with our PE/German teacher, or of listening to her views in the video clips, or of doing both.
Make notes of the key points to bear in mind when putting together this sort of lesson, which include motivation and safety.
Consider your own personal rationale, motivation and context in relation to CLIL approaches – you have noted previously the positive features of a CLIL approach. You might now combine these with short statements that relate to your own context, e.g. .
Cognitive development – in my school / class I have very well-informed inquisitive learners.
Active lessons – I have a lot of boys in my class who need to be physically involved in their learning!
Whole school plans – we are encouraged to adopt new approaches
Colleagues – we like to work in teams across the curriculum
To deliver a lesson requires a lot of teacher commitment and enthusiasm! You might now clarify why you personally are interested to develop a CLIL aspect in your own classroom, e.g.
I always like to extend and vary my approaches in the classroom.
I am confident about using a language at an appropriate level for my learners.
I have a classroom assistant who helps a lot with supporting children in understanding.
My learners need more challenge!
CLIL around Europe
You might wish to see what teachers from different countries say about the way they work – sometimes with others – to plan for Language and Content in their lessons.
Here a French teacher talks about her students:
Can you identify colleagues, in your school, or another school, who might help you plan?
You have heard about the 4Cs and might wish now to consider practical aspects of these:
Communication – are there any issues in your context which would impact on this?
Could you try working in a different room?
Plan an activity outside the curriculum?
Culture – is a classroom culture of active learning and investigation appropriate to your context?
If not, how would you describe that culture? Can you envisage an evolution of that culture?
Could you plan for a School Activity Day off-timetable?
Could you work on a practical one-off lesson with a colleague?
This French teacher talks about the culture of learning in her classroom:
Content – How could you access culturally-specific teaching and learning resources to introduce an international message?
Resources available from cultural partners in different countries, online resources
Cognition – How can you check that content and learning activity is age-appropriate?
You may have school documentation on progression in the different aspects of learning, or official documentation on expectations at different ages.
In practical terms your observation of learners will reveal their engagement – if they are bored, the work is probably not challenging enough. If they are asking lots of questions then they are probably well engaged.
This British teacher talks about the authentic resources she uses to convey cultural learning.
Developing attitudes to learning
How could you make links between different areas of the curriculum?
Some writers talk about ‘driving questions’ which serve to create interest and a feeling of challenge for learners. They encapsulate ‘Why are we doing this?’ as in this American blog.
Purposeful questioning can also help learners make connections.