Foreword to the Special Issue

by Brad Blackstone & Jock Wong
National University of Singapore

In late January 2014, we attended the 34th Annual Thailand TESOL International Conference in Chiang Mai. In one of the keynote addresses, Russell Gordon Cross provided an update on the state of Content and Language Integrated Learning, especially as it was being implemented in various foreign language programs in Australia. One of the vignettes he presented was of a multi-modal approach to Italian history and culture using the Italian language. Watching a video rendition of the Italian culture class, the conference audience could note the excitement in the students’ faces as they were dramatically interacting in Italian, their non-native language. It was clear that this was more than a language class, and more than a history or culture class. This was CLIL.

We have both had our own experiences with CLIL. In Ohio in the 1970s Brad studied Russian in high school and in university, and while the term CLIL had not yet been coined, he fondly remembers once when he was asked by an instructor to not just ‘play act’ Russian language dialogues but to produce and deliver short plays. This sort of task became more than a linguistic endeavor for everyone involved (play writers, student actors, the director) because alongside the language skills both acting skills and an interpretation of character were required.  There was that very sense among the learners that Hollywood was beckoning. Granted, the course/curricular goals were still clearly focused on the side of language development, but something more immediate was rising to the surface in the minds of the students: the role of language as an instrument for real communication and engagement with significant content within an authentic context.

Jock experienced language learning from a similar perspective as a student in Singapore. During that time (and now too), the Ministry of Education required all students to study English language as a subject. That was fine. However, when he was in secondary school, he faced a major challenge; all subjects (except Mandarin) were taught in English, including history and geography, which had been taught in Chinese in primary school. Additionally, he had to study literature (e.g. works by William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and George Orwell). Coming from a family that did not speak English (but Cantonese) meant that to study and pass the various non-language subjects to receive his education certificate he had to additionally study the English that would allow him to access the subjects. He remembers vividly reading mathematical texts about functions, equations and inequalities to understand them. He was interested in mathematics and wanted to do well in it but had to master the English that allowed mathematics to make sense to him. It was truly a CLIL experience.

Having had our own CLIL experiences as learners, and now as teachers, we talked about the expanding role of CLIL and, along with the growing preeminence of English as the foremost global language, a wider recognition of CLIL programs across the globe. The time was right, we thought, for ELTWO to host a special issue dedicated to a discussion of CLIL in higher education.

But CLIL is not without its critics, and the very definition has inspired positions. There are those, for example, who argue that the content factor becomes “watered down” in some courses with a CLIL focus (Ioannou Georgiou, 2012, p. 497). This reasoning follows from the idea that if students are struggling with the target language, their learning of the content will necessarily be impaired. At the same time, it is often suggested that CLIL requires certain conditions and is based on a set of principles. One of the more arguable “principles” includes the idea that CLIL is a “foreign language enrichment measure packaged into content teaching” (Dalton-Puffer, 2011, p 184).

This is when we turned to David Marsh for advice and assistance. David’s name was everywhere in the literature, not just as the person who had identified this educational approach for what it was, and as the creator of its key terminology, but as a steadfast advocate.  If there was a person who could help us tread through the varied opinions and offer insights to us and the writers who had agreed to walk with us on this journey, it would be David.

After consulting David, we reflected upon some of the questions we faced and came to a certain understanding. Concepts evolve over time. While some scholars associate CLIL with ELF learning, which was what CLIL was originally about, we think that it does not have to be. After all, there are many aspects to language learning. The Centre of English Language Centre at the National University of Singapore runs a program called ‘Ideas and Expositions’,[1] the objective of which is to use ‘content’ to teach academic writing in English (see Brooke; Angove et al., this issue). Each lecturer teaches a humanities subject like one would in a faculty, except that much emphasis is placed on academic writing – e.g., how to support one’s stand using evidence and argument; how to organize and express ideas to guide readers through a line of argument. Most of the students can speak a form of English with a high degree of fluency, which means that they are generally not EFL students. However, many of them do not fully understand what academic writing in English, at least at the university level, is about. Because the students learn content and academic writing in English at the same time, for all intents and purposes, their endeavors may be considered CLIL. Wanting to explore CLIL from this evolving perspective, we decided to pursue the theme. We issued a call for papers and invited David Marsh to be our Guest Editor. The rest, as they say, is history.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank David Marsh, who worked closely with us to review all submissions, even when he was travelling, and wrote the introductory piece for us.

Together with our CELC/ELTWO colleagues, we now present you with the long-awaited CLIL special issue.

Dalton-Puffer, C. (2011). Content-and-language integrated learning: From practice to principles. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 182-204.

Ioannou Georgiou, S. (2012) Reviewing the puzzle of CLIL. ELT Journal, 66(4), 495-504.


CLIL in the Business English Classroom: From Language Learning to the Development of Professional Communication and Metacognitive Skills

by Dana Di Pardo Léon-Henri
University of Paris IV – La Sorbonne, France

Marsh (2012) asserts that the use of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in language teaching at the higher education level has the potential to encourage learners to acquire language in an immersion-style setting, since the integration of language and content provides a substantive basis for language teaching and learning (p. 135). The content provides a motivational and cognitive foundation for language learning because it is of interest and value to the learner. In light of this, language learning by means of CLIL is not only active, but also passive, and in this setting, the focus is primarily on acquisition as opposed to intention. Students learn by doing and using language as a tool of communication and understanding. Hence, CLIL is also a means to assist in the development of analytic, reflective and hypothesizing skills. The real challenge is to keep students communicating and exchanging in the target language, while providing new information and methods to capture and keep their interest.

This paper presents a pedagogical intervention whereby 170 Business English (BE) students in their first year of a two-year Business Administration and Management course at a French vocational institution were given a professional oral presentation task-based on peer collaborative work. This task was designed to heighten their level of enthusiasm for language learning, while stimulating risk-taking and ultimately boosting confidence-building. In the context of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and more precisely, a course with a BE focus, this study aims to analyze if and how a CLIL-based approach can be implemented to teach a variety of professional skills, while assisting students in the development of their metacognitive ability. In addition, the students’ input on their impressions of the task-based presentation intervention was sought to analyze whether or not CLIL methodology can serve as a setting to encourage the development of metacognitive skills.

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Traditionally, CLIL has been recognized as a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for learning and teaching of both content and language (Marsh, Mehisto, Wolff, & Frigols-Martin, 2010, p. 11). For example, in France CLIL has been used with French students to help them learn about geography and history in English. Similarly, in Italy, Italian students have been taught mathematics through the use of German.

In this paper, the focus is on English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and more precisely Business English (BE). The test group involved 170 first-year students – French and foreign – who majored in Business Administration and Management. The students were from various regions of France, but also a variety of foreign countries (near as in the case of Luxembourg or Germany and further away like China or the Ukraine). They were enrolled in a two-year French vocational program where they were offered a full program of subjects taught in French. Some of these courses included accounting, finance, law, economy, management and communication. They also followed mandatory BE courses to acquire and improve professional (verbal and nonverbal) oral and written communication skills in English. In terms of BE, the students had to not only acquire basic communication skills such as telephoning, negotiating and making small talk, but also learn to structure and give professional presentations, as well as organize and manage meetings or prepare professional documents (marketing or human resources related) and emails, memos, meeting agendas, etc. Furthermore, the students were also required to prepare for international tests (multiple choice style questions) or certification for further studies in business schools, for example. In the European context, like all students in similar programs, they were obliged to continue learning and improving their third language skills (German, Italian or Spanish). In addition, some of the foreign students took French as a foreign language courses to improve their fluency in French, especially since the core subjects in this program are taught in French. The learners in this program earn a vocational diploma after two years of intensive business and management studies. Some students find employment immediately after graduation, while others pursue additional qualification programs in the fields of accounting, finance, human resources or business management. Every year, a growing number of pioneering students decide to leave France to study and work abroad in hope of improving their language, cultural and interpersonal skills.

For many French students, simply pronouncing a few words in a foreign language is a great fear to overcome. Many students who have low self-confidence in terms of language capacity are reluctant to speak openly in a foreign language setting and those who communicate the most willingly are often the foreign students or those who possess a higher level of linguistic competence. In this teaching setting, it is important to find a pedagogical balance in terms of speaking and writing as well as to design activities and tasks that assist in building confidence and encouraging risk-taking for all of the students regardless of their level of confidence or language proficiency.

Founded on CLIL principles, the BE course and research project presented in this paper were designed to analyze if and how a CLIL-based didactic approach could assist BE students in the development of professional communication skills as well as metacognitive ability through the implementation of active analytical reflection and reasoning. After the initial overview of the theoretical background of CLIL, a summary of the methods and procedure of the research is provided, as well as further considerations and recommendations. The instructional focus is placed on a peer collaborative task which gave the 170 BE students the opportunity for creativity and innovation within a structured learning framework. The traditional approach to language teaching (whereby the teacher teaches and the students learn) was reversed in the task since the students assumed the role of teacher as they shared their newly acquired knowledge. By means of a scenario and role-play involving the presentation of a specific company or association (previously chosen by the teacher), they presented content (business history, details, key milestones, etc.) and developed specific business English language in a learning environment where they took an active role in analyzing the language learning process. Finally, the paper presents some practical observations and recommendations.

CLIL and Task-based Learning
According to Marsh et al. (2010), the objective of CLIL is to promote both content and language mastery to pre-defined levels (p. 11). Students tend to learn a language and then use it as a tool to accomplish concrete tasks with specific communication skills (Mehisto, Marsh, & Frigols, 2008, p.11). In the context of higher education and CLIL, these specific skills can also include professional communication competency. When compared to more basic grammar-based teaching methods and rote learning, content-driven activities within professionally oriented courses can prove to be more interesting, motivating and linguistically challenging since such activities often involve cooperative learning and collaborative tasks. By working together in small groups, students are not only obliged to communicate and understand each other, but they are also required to deal with the potential for disagreements. In this way, they must then learn to develop negotiation strategies with the objective of finding concrete solutions to their problems. When initially confronted with the challenge of certain professional activities, such as team work for a business presentation, students can often become apprehensive about the many challenges such a project can present. These challenges can involve social, communicative or professional skills, for example. However, as the students progress through the various activities, their level of confidence is boosted when they come to realize that they are capable of sharing ideas, managing disputes and working towards a common goal.

Furthermore, the various stages of the task can be organized so that the focus is placed on creative autonomy through the use of activities such as improvisation and role-play. This will encourage intrinsic motivation (Brown, 1994, p.44) since the learners are encouraged to take risks, push their limits and conquer their fears (such as stage fright or shyness), which are often related to making mistakes in public. In the case of this study, role-play and improvisation activities were a crucial part of the business presentation (the larger task). For this reason, the students were encouraged to prepare early and practice to avoid the anxiety and problems associated with stage fright. In very simple terms, they were encouraged and taught to ‘share what they know,’ which is a motivational teaching strategy that places value on personal investment and preparation. With practice, students can better learn their roles and ultimately build confidence. For some, public speaking can be a real source of stress and incertitude, but with preparation and rehearsal the stress can generally be brought under control and managed. Upon completion of the final task, their feelings of success and accomplishment are not only a source of motivation but also inherent pride.

Lessons, activities and tasks that are based on sound motivational theories can enhance language learning for students and language teaching for instructors. In his very useful guide to the use of various motivational strategies in the language classroom, Dörnyei (2001) maintains that the teacher embodies the ‘group conscience’ and serves as the model when he/she ventures to create a cohesive learner group with appropriate group (and professional) norms. These norms are omnipresent and constantly reflected inside and outside of classroom time, from the teacher’s classroom management (basic rules and attitudes to adopt in class), lesson planning and activities, to exchanges outside of the classroom (for example, informal moments before or after class or questions about the activities). As the model setting the norms, the language teacher may choose to communicate exclusively in English, not only inside but also outside of classroom time. This motivational strategy requires students to communicate in a language that is not necessarily their native language. The students are thus presented with a real challenge (explaining questions, for example) and encouraged to take risks (confirming they have understood the explanation). These are risks that they might not otherwise take during classroom time. The same may apply in email communication. Whether in a group or one to one with the teacher, students can often feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when they successfully inquire about or solve a problem in a language other than their native language.

By definition, content-based learning focuses the learner on useful and practical objectives since the subject matter is perceived to be relevant to long term goals (Brown, 1994, p. 220). If one were to combine CLIL methodology with task-based teaching, the target language can then become a dynamic instrument for both teaching and learning. Learners are more willing to adhere to a task and related activities when they can perceive the long-term practical usefulness of an assignment. As Brown (1994, p.83) explains, task-based learning simply puts the task at the centre of one’s methodological focus. It views the learning process as a set of communicative tasks that are directly linked to the curricular goals they serve. As an additional consideration, if an assigned task involves a substantial amount of risk-taking, some of the more timid students may prefer to work with a partner. The objectives remain the same in both situations; however, for the sake of equity, students must be evaluated on an individual basis, even if they are presenting their work in groups of two or more.

Theoretical Framework
As Mehisto et al. (2008, p.12) illustrate, the CLIL methodology encompasses three main goals: content, language and learning skills. In terms of language learning, the integration of all three goals can offer students a variety of useful skills, such as language proficiency, cognitive and social skills, as well as the potential for high levels of academic achievement (upon the completion of the set goals) not only in the CLIL language but also in the first language area. With regards to lesson planning, Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010, p. 36) insist that teachers must elucidate the interrelationship between content objectives and language objectives. For this reason, they have devised a conceptual representation that makes these connections in the form of a Language Triptych (see Figure 1 below).

figure1 Figure 1: The Language Triptych (Coyle et al., 2010)

The Language Triptych was constructed with the objective of taking into account the need to integrate cognitively demanding content with language learning and using. Furthermore, “it supports learners in language using through the analysis of the CLIL vehicular language from three interrelated perspectives: language of learning, language for learning and language through learning” (Coyle et al., 2010, p.36).

Since learning activities often comprise metacognitive demands and interactional skills at the tertiary level, if we place the task at the centre of our methodological focus and use a CLIL methodology in the classroom, the teaching and learning experiences are then further enhanced to function as a professional development catalyst (Coyle et al., 2010, p.24). For content learning to be effective, students must actively think about and articulate their own learning. For Coyle et al. (2010, p.29), students must be cognitively engaged and encouraged to become aware of their own learning through the development of metacognitive skills such as “learning to learn.” Interactive classrooms are typified by group work, student questioning or critical analysis and problem solving. The critical analysis and questioning phase can involve the articulation of learning strategies since CLIL students are required to cooperate with each other in order to make use of each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses. They must learn how to operate collaboratively and effectively as a group.

As teachers, our role is then much more supportive in nature. We facilitate learning by observing the students and guiding them, though not without our set of fixed values and convictions (van Lier, 1996). These values and convictions are ubiquitous since they are embedded in our approach to lesson planning and classroom management. As teachers, we constantly communicate our set of fixed values both verbally and non-verbally (gestures, facial expressions and paralanguage) when we approve or disapprove of behaviour, for example. In a similar fashion, Flavell (1979) touches on the idea that teachers have an influence on metacognitive learning styles. He states that “it is at least conceivable that the ideas currently brewing in […the…] area [of metacognition] could someday be parlayed into a method of teaching children (and adults) to make wise and thoughtful life decisions as well as to comprehend and learn better in formal educational settings” (p.910). This method could be based upon an overall vision of how we construct teaching activities in order to facilitate and improve language teaching and learning methods. For Dörnyei and Kubanyiova (2014) language teaching activities should additionally include motivational strategies and confidence building schemes.

In general terms, students who work in a collaborative way have the opportunity to develop life skills such as observational and interpersonal skills. This can represent a source of motivation and a safe haven to build confidence and improve communication skills. Collaborative learning obliges students to deal with the unexpected, while they construct knowledge that is built on classroom (world) interaction and exchange. Teaching students to ‘think before they speak’ can be a very useful strategy and a way to integrate critical analysis methodology and metacognitive strategies. With regard to professional communication activities such as business presentations, collaborative learning and sharing can provide a rich forum for discussion and discovery. Students actively adhere to learning and become motivated or intrigued by the shared content. This is particularly true when the students themselves create their own presentation script or mock work scenario.

In the case of the BE course that is the focus of this study, instead of having to present a purely descriptive business presentation about a company, the students were given the task of preparing and presenting a collaborative project based on the role play of a professional scenario. The reason for this modification was to discourage students from the act of simply verbalizing information from Wikipedia. In the activities leading up to the final task, the students created language content (the script or dialogue). They presented and shared their knowledge and as observers, they were required to ask for the language help they needed. The students were also encouraged to evaluate their progress and negotiate outcomes. As they built on and shared knowledge, they repackaged information, while thinking creatively and critically. The emphasis was placed both on verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as interactive and intercultural communication. The students were required to understand, respect and follow all of the activities associated with the task. The role-play task (see Appendix A) was based on the choice of one of five professional scenarios, such as a job interview, an annual meeting or a presentation for shareholders. Some of the activities leading up to the task involved choosing a partner and scenario, structuring the role-play presentation, preparing a script, integrating props or audio-visuals, interacting with the audience, and finally providing feedback on the various activities and tasks.

In this way, the core features of CLIL methodology were respected. According to Mehisto et al. (2008, p.29), some of the core features are as follows:

Multiple focus

  • Supporting language learning in content classes
  • Supporting content learning in language classes
  • Integrating several subjects
  • Organizing learning through cross-cultural themes and projects
  • Supporting reflection on the learning process

Safe and enriching learning environment

  • Using routine activities and discourse
  • Building student confidence to experiment with language and content
  • Guiding access to authentic learning materials and environments
  • Increasing student language awareness


  • Letting the student ask for the language help they need
  • Maximizing the accommodation of student interests
  • Making a regular connection between learning and the students’ lives
  • Using current materials from the media and other sources

Active Learning

  • Having students communicate more than the teacher
  • Encouraging students to help set content, language and learning skills outcomes
  • Obliging students to evaluate their progress in achieving learning outcomes
  • Favouring peer co-operative work
  • Negotiating the meaning of language and content with students
  • Allowing teachers to act as facilitators


  • Building on student’s existing knowledge, skills, attitudes, interests and experience
  • Repackaging information in user-friendly ways
  • Responding to different learning styles
  • Fostering creative and critical thinking
  • Challenging students to take another step forward and not just coast in comfort


  • Planning courses/lessons/themes in co-operation with CLIL and non-CLIL teachers
  • Involving the local community, authorities and employers

With time and planning, it is then possible to design activities that integrate most or all of the above features. At the heart of these core features is the thinking (cognition) behind the teaching and learning process. Simply stated, the more powerful the thinking, the greater the learning. In the case of this study, students were given an outline of instructions; however, they were encouraged to create and improvise their scenarios while providing detailed information.

According to Mehisto et al. (2008, p.30), thinking (cognition) is defined as the mental faculty of knowing, which includes:

  • perceiving;
  • recognizing;
  • judging;
  • reasoning;
  • conceiving;

Cognition is required in lesson planning, but to heighten the intellectual challenge of a particular task for students, it should also be integrated into the task itself, so as to encourage the learners to develop their individual metacognitive, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. According to Flavell (1978), metacognition refers to higher-order thinking that involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning. It consists of both metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences. He further explains that it plays an important role in oral communication of information, oral persuasion, oral comprehension, language acquisition, memory, problem solving, social cognition and various types of self-control and self-instruction (Flavell, 1979). In due course, the integration of the aforementioned theories in language lesson planning can bring constructive results on many different levels both for the language learner and teacher.

Pedagogical Focus
This pedagogical intervention was conducted in the academic year 2013-2014, at the University of Lorraine and more precisely, in the Business Administration and Management Department of the Institute of Technology in Metz, France. At the outset of their two-year program, students must possess many different professional, interpersonal and business-related skills. For example, they must be at ease with the use of modern modes of communication (from business software to presentation materials, such as tablets). They are required to work efficiently and independently, but at the same time, they must be capable of communicating with culturally diverse teams. They need to develop their ability to analyse various situations and defend their stance on any given subject, as well as acquire strong written, oral and professional skills in English.

The task was given during the second half of the students’ first year studies. The advantage was that the students already knew each other and they were free to choose their working collaborators. The students formed groups of two and sometimes three at the most. One month before the date of their oral presentation, they were given the name of a recently created international company or association. Some of the companies were oriented towards an innovative product or service, while others were based on newer trends such as crowd funding and business angels. The students were encouraged to meet often outside the classroom, to research their company or association, to write a short scenario which would present all of the information related to their company, to learn and rehearse their roles, and then finally, to act out their scenario in front of their classmates and the teacher.

Previous to this activity, the teacher provided a lesson on the qualities of a successful oral presentation, including the role of body language and voice projection as well as the use of audio-visual aids in business presentations. During the month leading up to the presentation date, the teacher merely guided the students in their research and answered questions only if necessary. Their scenario, which included an interactive role for the audience, had to be based on one of the following five different business scenarios:

  • a presentation to new shareholders (the audience),
  • a job interview (the audience is the hiring committee),
  • a conference-type presentation with the new international managers (the audience),
  • an annual meeting for (some new) executive & administrative employees (the audience),
  • the annual review for the finance department (some new employees & the shareholders).

The students were asked to improvise (and not read notes), to be creative, professional and original. They were encouraged to use humour, but cautioned that the ambiance had to remain professional. The audience was composed of their classmates who were instructed to complete a detailed business profile chart (see Appendix B) while listening to the various presentations. The check-list also included a section for their personal feedback on the overall quality of the presentations. In the case of misunderstandings and miscomprehensions, the audience was obliged to actively participate in direct questioning at the end of the presentation, since this check-list was collected and analysed by the teacher. Therefore, the quality of the oral presentation was equally as important as the information being presented.

From the beginning, it was made clear that all students had to possess a clear and discernible role and that each one of them would be obliged to speak in an equitable fashion. Students were instructed that the scenario presentation was to last between 10 and 15 minutes in duration. Team work in problem-solving was encouraged. Technical problems (often related to audio and visual issues) were to be dealt with and improvisation was encouraged if there was an unexpected turn of events. As an observer and moderator, the language teacher merely facilitated the passage from one presentation to the next, while evaluating each of the students individually (see Appendix C for evaluation grid).

After all of the scenarios were presented to the class, the students were given about 30 minutes during class time to complete a printed questionnaire (see Appendix D), composed of 22 questions (for the most part based on the Likert scale method, as well as a few open-ended questions). They were asked to document their personal opinions and reflect on the learning process during the activity and the various challenges they faced during the preparation and execution phases of their scenario. The students were only given two hours of class time to work on their scenarios and to approach the teacher with questions, issues or problems. (Therefore, the bulk of the preparation was done outside of class time.) It should be noted that during this two-hour session, the teacher circulated and on an informal basis asked the groups of students to critically analyse their progress by sharing their metacognitive skills and strategies. For example, the students were asked to share the types of “phases” through which they progressed during the various activities. The responses varied from one group to another, but the majority evoked the following: conception, hypothesis, imagination/creation, negotiation, company research and dialogue design. During this session, they were also once again reminded that extra points would be given for creativity, innovation and risk-taking.

As with any CLIL-based activity, the overall intent of this activity was to integrate content with language and learning skills. Nevertheless, this activity was a result of much didactic reflection after observing the purely descriptive business presentations that were given by the students in the first semester. The primary objective was to create a task that would involve a more authentic and professional dimension (the role-play and scenario) to offer the students an opportunity to conceive and design original language immersion settings. Equally important was the need to develop a framework in which the students would create their scenario while taking risks and boosting their confidence level in public speaking situations. During the various presentations, the students were offered an opportunity to share their knowledge with the others who observed the role-plays and discovered the new content (company, organization or association, etc…). In order to heighten the intellectual challenge and encourage the students to develop their analytic, reflective and hypothesizing skills, the students were obliged to take an active role in and provide views on learning about how they learn.

Research Discussion
This study ultimately serves to determine the extent to which students in a business English course found their learning enhanced by the use of CLIL, the integration of professional communication skills, and finally, the development and analysis of metacognitive skills. At the same time, the study investigates the students’ impressions on the pedagogical intervention through the use of a questionnaire. This questionnaire was originally conceived and created by closely examining and decomposing the various stages and activities involved in preparing the final role-play presentation task.

In general terms, the study was designed to answer the following preliminary research question: In a BE language environment is it possible to create a pedagogical activity founded on a CLIL-based approach to motivate students and teach a variety of professional skills, as well as help students to enhance English language learning, while developing metacognitive and problem-solving skills?

The participants in this study were 170 first-year students (aged 19 to 24) attending a two-year program at a vocational institution. They were all non-native speakers of English, from differing language, national and religious backgrounds. Most students enrolled in the program were French, but some of the students were of Chinese, Ukrainian, Luxemburgish, Turkish and Moroccan origins. Based on entrance tests at the beginning of the year, their proficiency level in English varied between intermediate and upper-intermediate level in terms of the European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Results and Observations
The analysis of the students’ responses from the questionnaire (see Appendix D) led to the following results. With regards to the first question, ‘Did learning about Business English in English allow you to learn more?’ the analysis of the answers revealed that CLIL does enhance learning, since 95% of the students claimed that the activity provided them with an opportunity to learn a great deal of business English vocabulary since they were obliged to use and communicate in the target language at every stage of this activity. From the research phase to the scenario writing phase, all of the communication was done in English. Many students mentioned that the companies and associations were relatively unknown (to them) and this fact resulted in a heightened and concentrated amount of research (in English) on the Internet. They also appreciated this fact, since 89% expressed that they learned a substantial amount of information (and vocabulary) about the different companies and associations. When asked about the number of times they rehearsed their scenario, the majority (85%) claimed that they rehearsed between 4-5 times. Almost all of the students (95%) claimed that they worked together during the preparation, research and writing phase. For most students, the biggest challenge was to first find (98%) and then synthesize (95%) all of the business information. When asked if they liked working in groups of two or three for this activity, the vast majority (98%) strongly agreed. It should be noted that a total of 6 students (5%) discretely requested the right to work alone.

In terms of the second question ‘Does the use of oral presentations stimulate creativity?’ the results showed that the majority of students (92%) experienced an elevated level of originality and ingenuity. According to the questionnaire, 94% of the students agreed strongly that this activity helped them to become more analytical, imaginative and autonomous in language learning. Many commented that active listening in the audience was also very useful for language learning since the audience members energetically and willingly asked questions when they did not understand something. The need to fill in a business profile chart (Appendix B, which was collected and assessed by the teacher) was perhaps the real source of this motivation. Astonishingly, this method motivated even the most timid of students who had been reluctant to participate in the previous activities but very enthused to perform their role and include the correct information on their information chart.

The third research question was ‘Did this activity go beyond language learning?’ For this question, the results were quite remarkable. The majority of the students (96%) agreed strongly by stating that the core features of CLIL were respected. Some examples are as follows: 85% of students agreed that the activity integrated several subjects, for example, an international company or an association, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, the use of audio and video, cross-cultural themes and the use of gestures. 87% of the students indicated that studying professional scenarios was authentic, motivating and very practical. For 92% of the students, working through scenarios increased their awareness and solidified their willingness to take risks and confidence in using English when they needed help or need answers. 98% of the students indicated that during the scenario presentation, they communicated much more than the teacher. For the vast majority (95%), peer co-operative work was a very effective way to learn language. In terms of scaffolding, 98% of the students indicated that this study fostered creativity and critical thinking through the use of improvisation. 98% believed that this activity is much more challenging that the traditional monolingual business presentation. When asked about what they learned in this study, 98% of the students indicated business English and business content, 95% indicated improved verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and 75% of students indicated that they had learned how to improve their use of audio and visual aids by watching their classmates (with regard to what should be done and what should not be).

The fourth research question was ‘Did this activity help you to develop your metacognitive and problem-solving skills?’ The vast majority of students agreed strongly with each individual dimension of cognition: judging (85%), reasoning (75%), conceiving (95%) and imagining (98%). The questionnaire revealed that the vast majority (96%) of the students also agreed with the statement that this pedagogical activity stimulated their creative thinking since all of the scenarios, based on differing companies and associations, were uniquely diversified and sometimes amusing (in the instance that a job interview appears to go badly but eventually passes the mark).

The final question ‘Were you motivated by this activity?’ showed that 98% of the students agreed strongly. 72% claimed that the research was the most challenging aspect. 71% stated that the role-play scenario presentation was very challenging. When asked if ‘learning by doing’ was the best method for language learning, 95% of the students agreed strongly. An informal poll revealed that many of the students believed also that simulating a professional scenario was part of a positive learning experience that obliged them to reflect, negotiate and improvise in the target language. Some of the scenarios involving the more timid students were so elaborate and amusing that the various groups of students would share anecdotes about the presentations outside of class. This generated a lot of enthusiasm for BE learning. Students generally also expressed the idea that they really appreciated learning a lot of content information (for instance, the structure, history and business objectives) of the various international companies and associations in an entertaining and unexpected manner.

Discussion/Interpretation of Research Study
The above-mentioned findings provide valuable insight into the students’ opinions regarding this pedagogical approach to business English teaching. The findings reveal that using CLIL-based activities in the business English classroom to provide a forum for immersion-style language learning can encourage risk-taking as well as confidence building. A CLIL approach to teaching language not only enhances language learning, but it also empowers and motivates the learners since they become more aware of and thus more in control of the development of their own learning strategies. A large majority of the students expressed that this activity improved their language learning since it provided them with an opportunity to learn a great deal of business English, as well as practise and acquire more general English during the various stages of conception and planning to presentation and observation. The activity also helped some students to ‘come out of their shell’ and overcome their shyness. In terms of content and language learning, the students agreed that they were intellectually challenged since they learned about many different content areas (business and administration, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, intercultural themes and metacognitive skills development). In the same way, the majority supported the idea that the scenario-based format, while simulating authentic and practical role-plays, had stimulated creativity and enthusiasm. This response demonstrates that the CLIL methodology does indeed have the potential to function as a catalyst for professional development. The vast majority of students also supported the idea that the final role-play presentations should have been recorded and filmed so that the scenarios could have viewed by the other groups of students. This study shows that it is possible to design language learning activities that not only promote language learning in an autonomous, peer collaborative and interactive fashion, but also encourage the development of professional communication skills. Concurrently, the study focuses on the importance of the awareness or analysis of one’s own learning and thinking in the professional communication and language learning process.

The questionnaire results clearly showed that the students were very supportive of this CLIL-based activity. In this business English context, the vast majority of students also expressed that the ‘learning by doing’ method is the best method for language learning. In terms of the main research questions, the student responses also showed that there was a clear positive response for all five of the questions. While the qualitative results gathered through the use of the questionnaire show statistics that suggest the success of this process, it should be noted that the lack of a control group or comparison to another process does undermine the validity of the results.

Using CLIL-based activities in language teaching at the higher education is a viable didactic approach. This study explored the possibility and effectiveness of using the CLIL approach in business English teaching. The research showed that using CLIL methodology and peer collaborative tasks can enhance the development of professional communication skills as well as metacognitive ability through the implementation of an active analytical communication activity. In fact, in the context of language teaching, assisting students in the development of metacognitive and analytical skills may be beneficial for them not only to improve their linguistic skills but also to empower and inspire them to become lifelong language users and learners.

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Marsh, D. (2012). Content and integrated language learning (CLIL): A development trajectory. Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Córdoba: Córdoba. Available at cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA& 2=M6D5G0BEGMlqJWvI2pmeRg&bvm=bv.78597519,d.dGc

Marsh, D., Mehisto, P., Wolff, D., & M. Frigols-Martin. (2010). The European framework for CLIL teacher education. Graz: European Centre for Modern Languages, Council of Europe.

Mehisto, P., Marsh, D., & Frigols, M.-J. (2008). Uncovering CLIL: Content and language integrated learning in bilingual and multilingual education. Oxford: Macmillan Publishing.

van Lier, L. (1996). Interaction in the language curriculum: Awareness, autonomy and authenticity. New York: Longman.

About the Author
Dana Leon-Henri blogDana Di Pardo Léon-Henri teaches in the Department of Business Administration Management, IUT of Metz, University of Lorraine.

Critical and Creative Engagements Facilitated through a CLIL Approach in the Ideas and Exposition (IEM) Classroom

by Coleen AngoveLynette Tan and Anuradha Ramanujan
Centre for English Language Communication

National University of Singapore

This article argues for the transferability of CLIL’s philosophy and practice to a more broadly defined language-and-content classroom. The writers attempt to illustrate how they have applied concepts from CLIL to their content-heavy writing classes, thereby aligning themselves with CLIL’s dual approach. Students are supported in mastering challenging content, together with a “discourse” unique to the content. Applying rhetorical strategies, students construct meaning through the use of content-related terms and language they have mastered. The writers further explain how strategically raising students’ awareness of the relationship between content and different discourses, critical and creative thinking can be generated.

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Since the term was launched in 1996 (Marsh, 2009), CLIL as an educational approach to the learning of languages has both gained popularity and been questioned for the anomalies (Bruton, 2011) that have surfaced in the assessment of its effectiveness. Georgiou attaches a fairly disparaging adage to CLIL, calling it the new “fashionable” approach, and quotes Do Coyle in suggesting that CLIL is now poised at a “dangerous moment” with risks of becoming not only ineffective, but also frustrating (2012, pp. 497-498). Georgiou is particularly concerned with the sacrificing of L1-level content, because of the necessary focus on language-acquisition. It should be pointed out that Georgiou regards criticism such as her own as part of a healthy debate around the strengths and weaknesses of CLIL, a sentiment supported also by Hüttner and Smit (2014, pp. 160-161), and a necessary part of a process that should carry this practice beyond “fashion” into established classroom practice. One of her concerns is that the CLIL could become a victim of its own success, in that it is (sometimes, often, always?) applied in inappropriate contexts. It is with some caution then that we approach our task, and with careful reflection on how to be true to the spirit and execution of CLIL, that we argue for CLIL’s successful “transferability” (Georgiou, p. 497) within our own content-driven writing programme.

The Ideas and Exposition Modules (IEM) are writing courses that were created as part of the National University of Singapore’s concept for its University Town (UTown) residential learning programme. This suite of first- and second-level modules are content specific and rhetorically intensive. Each module is designed by a lecturer from the Centre for English Language and Communication, and is unique in content, although it shares its intended outcomes with all the other modules from the programme. So, one can have modules that offer very diverse content, such as Photography and Society and English, Singlish and Intercultural Communication. However, at the heart of each module is the lecturer’s guidance on “how to best construct evidence-based arguments that show readers why it is reasonable to problematize a previous analysis and resolve the problem in a particular way” (see for more detail). In other words, these are writing courses taught through content that have been designed to appeal to students from all disciplines, and to excite research interest.

Claiming that the NUS Writing Programme modules share a compatibility with a CLIL framework may seem, on the surface, a misunderstanding of CLIL aims and strategies. The emphasis for most teachers and learners when first coming to CLIL is on the acquisition of a new language through content-heavy courses. Brooke (this special issue) however, makes a case for seeing language acquisition not only in terms of foreign language learning, but as the acquisition of “target content-specific language” and incidental learning of “general cross-curricular academic language in context”. Although students do not learn a foreign language as such in the IEM classroom, they are immersed in a new discourse related to the topic that they have elected to study, and are expected to have mastered that discourse within 13 weeks. Ting (2011) reinforces this more flexible approach to how we define a “new language” by claiming that it is of less significance whether the language is mother tongue or a foreign language. “In fact, regardless of the subject matter or whether it is our L1 or an FL, attending to how learners are ‘languaging understanding’ automatically puts ‘literacy’ on the learning agenda” (2011, p. 316).

The IEM programme likewise, provides students with the rhetorical skills and content-specific discourse through which to experience how content comes with a language specific to that topic, and that understanding content happens through content-specific language, thereby “languaging understanding” (Ting, 2011, p. 316). In other words, it is through a particular discourse that meaning is constructed, and that writing is facilitated.

This article will attempt to show how the Ideas and Exposition Modules (IEM) and CLIL are shaped by their common dual-focus approach. It will furthermore attempt to explain how context and a learner-centered approach have contributed to the philosophies underpinning CLIL and the IEM programme. Drawing on the observations and experiences of authors active in the CLIL field, (Georgiou, 2012; Marsh, 2009, 2010; Ting, 2011) this article will argue that CLIL’s influence has moved beyond the EFL classroom, and will offer examples of how its integrated approach has been applied in selected IEM modules. In fact, one of the weaknesses that Georgiou recognizes in CLIL, namely the tendency to privilege language learning at the cost of L1-level content, is redressed in the IEM programme. Finally, the article will illustrate how these factors contribute toward an environment that is perfectly poised to generate a critical, as well as creative, approach to learning.

Single approach, multiple models
Georgiou (2012) warns that using CLIL as an “umbrella term” (Mehisto, in Georgiou, p. 497), i.e. all-inclusive of various settings and contexts in which the acquisition of language and content material are accorded equal status, could lead to a watered down product. Marsh (2009) acknowledges that as in any pedagogical context, there is the danger of uninspired classroom practice, and subsequent less successful outcomes, eliciting concerns such as those expressed by Georgiou. However, this should not detract from the sound principle of foregrounding both content and rhetoric, in whichever way that is more effective to individual course needs. Situated within the Centre for English Language Communication, the IEM programme is supported by an environment which regards pedagogy highly. Regular staff seminars on effective classroom practices are reinforced by ELTWO, a CELC open-source publication that contains articles sharing ways in which learning may be achieved effectively and creatively (see A quick survey of the contents of ELTWO will confirm the rich pedagogical pickings from which IEM tutors can construct meaningful learning situations, doing justice to both content and language acquisition. These strategies include blended learning, flipped classrooms, authentic learning situations, and creative use of technology, such as peer reviews on Google docs, and simultaneous viewing of and commenting on films through TodaysMeet (see

Marsh describes CLIL as “a single educational approach which involves very different models” (2009), a description most pertinent to the IEM programme. This article will illustrate, through examples from different IEM modules, how this “single approach” is open to application through multiple models. In both CLIL and the IEM programme, there is a very clear set of achievable outcomes. Marsh explains CLIL outcomes vary clearly: CLIL is a dual-focused educational approach in which a new language is used for the learning and teaching of content with the objective of promoting both content and language mastery to pre-defined levels (2010). Likewise, in the IEM programme, tutors work from a common template to reach achievable rhetorical outcomes, but have the flexibility to employ methodologies they find appropriate to their different content areas. The holistic approach to curriculum design and student support through immersion in a topic and its discourse (Brooke, this special issue) offers a basis for individual interpretation and application within the classroom.

The IEM modules each offer a unique content-specific topic, but in each case the outcome is the same: students learn about the process of engaging with academic texts, comparing and contrasting different academic opinions, and identifying worthwhile further research. In this way, while students are involved in quite intensive research on the topic of their choice (acquiring a “language” or discourse unique to their topic), they are simultaneously experiencing different rhetorical strategies in which information is communicated. One could argue that while students are researching their topic, “incidental learning” (Georgiou, 2012 p. 496) takes place with regard to the process of critical thinking, research and writing. Students are learning about the rhetoric of persuasion, as well as the language unique to their topic.

Although one may argue that a crucial difference between CLIL and the IEM programme pertains to the issue of foreign-language acquisition, which traditionally defines CLIL, it is more important to recognise the shared emphasis on a “dual purpose,” namely the acquisition of both content and its concomitant language on a sophisticated level.

Pedagogical context
Students taking an IEM module are working outside of their disciplinary comfort zone. They are confronted with the interdisciplinary demands of modules engaging, for example, ethical questions around food choices, experimentation around human enhancement, sport and drugs, or considering how popular culture exposes hierarchies of power. This interdisciplinary focus resonates with the origins of CLIL in a globalising world. The need to communicate across cultural and linguistic lines has become more urgent in a globalized world, and CLIL has emerged as a pedagogical response which strives to facilitate this process, consciously creating circumstances under which content and language acquisition happens concurrently. Coyle, Hood and Marsh claim that CLIL is “an innovation which emerged as education for modern times” (in Paran, 2013, p. 137), and Marsh sums up the driving forces behind CLIL as “Globalisation, globalisation, globalisation… The socio-economic drivers are very strong” (2009). Georgiou refers to the role of EU policymakers in supporting CLIL as an educational strategy in tune with the linguistic needs of a newly-created European Union (p. 496). One could argue that the breaking down of geographical boundaries has had a knock-on effect on universities, in the form of a less exclusive approach to disciplinary boundaries. The North American liberal arts colleges have long realised the benefits of inviting students to see connections between science, business and the arts in their choice of undergraduate courses. The incentive behind the IEM courses is certainly rooted in the belief in a creative potential for learning within a space that is not defined by a specific discipline. The philosophy behind IEM, as in CLIL, seems to fit into a larger trend of “knowledge economy and interdisciplinarity” (Coyle, Hood & Marsh, in Paran, 2013, p. 137) that endorses moving beyond compartmentalizing knowledge into discrete areas. Students in the IEM classroom, like in the CLIL classroom, are encouraged to “develop plurilingual interests and attitudes … study content through different perspectives …(and) access subject-specific target language terminology” (Monserrat, 2012). In short, NUS, like other 21st Century universities, is opening up the boundaries between disciplines, and the well-rounded graduate is informed in intellectual discourses beyond their vocational discipline. This may be seen as an outcome of, as well as a response to, globalization.

A learner-centered environment
The incentive for a learner-centered approach to learning is the belief that it will “increase learner motivation” (Monserrat, 2012), and although it is known to be very labour-intensive for the teacher (Marsh, 2009), in the experience of IEM teachers the intellectual investment comes with huge benefits in increased teacher and student motivation. Teachers are selected for a combined proficiency in teaching academic writing as well as individual subject interests that bring intellectual passion into the classroom.

Ting (2011) ascribes a large part of CLIL’s success to how it “focuses our attention on the process of learning and not the act of teaching: CLIL obviously attends to how the learner – not the teacher – is acquiring, using, and mastering the (foreign) language” (p. 314). Marsh ascribes the efficacy of this way of learning to the emotional connect it makes with students: “Why are the results so good? We are now thinking that this relates mainly to the emotional dimension of learners; the ways in which CLIL connects them to their own ‘worlds’ using multi-mode technology; and the impact on the brain when language learning becomes ‘acquisitional’, and not just ‘intentional’” (2009).

IEM topics have been selected as much for their academic substance as for their potential to stimulate critical, and creative, thinking. Cross (2012) makes a case for the often neglected relationship between critical and creative thinking, and for the important role that creativity plays in learning, an aspect which is integral to CLIL. Similarly, the IEM topics have been selected to appeal to students from all disciplines. Some examples include Eating Right(s): The Politics of Food, Women in Film, Ethics in Outer Space, Sports and Socialization, Science Fiction and Empire, Public Persona and Self-presentations, as well as Blood, Death and Desire: Interpreting the Vampire. Students are invited to consider, and take positions, in the debates inherent in these topics. They are exposed to ideas through selected readings, documentaries, feature films and invited speakers. In small groups of 12 students, each student gets many opportunities to voice opinions, and get immediate feedback from peers and the tutor, thereby having the opportunity for ongoing intellectual stimulation and growth.

The rest of this article is devoted to three case studies referencing first-level year IEM modules, all conforming to the three ideals stated above. Lynette Tan in her section Women in Film considers how Contix, the content dimension of CLIL, is facilitated through film and gender terminology. Coleen Angove, in Prizes and Popular Culture, illustrates how setting two discourses in conversation, i.e. that of the prize, and of popular culture, enhances the potential for critical thinking. Anuradha Ramanujan, in Food Right(s): The Politics of Food, offers a closer look at how reading is selected and scaffolded so that students come to an increasing awareness of meaning construction through language. The common thread that runs through the three case studies is how a CLIL approach contributes toward creative and critical thinking.

Case Study 1: Women in Film
To recapitulate, the inarguable link between the CLIL approach and the IEM modules is a methodology that is “dual-focussed,” where “an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language” (Marsh, 2010, p. 234). Through content that investigates the representation of women in film, the module, Women in Film, goes a step further in teaching students not only the academic discourse stemming from Gender Studies, but also the additional language of film analysis. The focus of this section is how one of the key dimensions in the rationale for CLIL, what Marsh calls “Contix” or “the content dimension” (Marsh et al., 2001), can shed light on the role of creativity within pedagogy. Parallel to Contix, Women in Film introduces students to the topic through various perspectives (such as history, genre, and ideology), equips them with the language and terminology to understand these perspectives, and then motivates them to form their own perspectives through an application of the new terminology to specific films.

Cross bemoans the current lack of clarity in how creativity fits within prevailing models of pedagogy (Cross, 2012, p. 436) and discusses instances of the creative in a unit of work using the CLIL approach that combines geography and the Japanese language. His notion of creativity stems from the works of Vygotsky, and in particular, the moment of catharsis. Learning that begins as human imitation is followed by the creative process of externalization, and Cross quotes Marjanovic-Shane et al. in elaborating about this process:

Catharsis occurs when the creative juxtaposition of conflicting emotions implodes to produce something novel that has not existed before….creative education provides ample opportunities for cathartic moments including the sudden “a-ha” one feels when grasping a new concept (Marjanovic-Shane et al., as cited in Cross, p. 437).

With reference to language learning, catharsis or creativity refers to the moment when the student moves from being “taught” the meaning of a word (what it denotes) to being engaged in the creative process of what it may connote.

An intersection of catharsis with the CLIL dimension of Contix explains the place of creativity in Women in Film. Contix has three components: it provides students with opportunities to study content through different perspectives, it enables students to access subject-specific target language terminology, and it prepares students for future studies and/or working life (Marsh, 2010, p. 241). The “ah-ha” moment, when imitation moves to catharsis, and the student uses the specific term in analysing a new section of a film, or another film altogether, is the catalyst for creativity. In the following an instance of such creativity is explored with Women in Film.

At the beginning of the module, students are taught the formal elements that comprise the style of a film, one of which is cinematography. Cinematography, according to Bordwell and Thompson, encompasses qualities that impact on “how” a shot is filmed, including the photographic aspects, the framing, and the duration (2013, p. 162). When they are taught about how the framing of a shot (in this instance the mobile frame or camera movement) creates meaning, students are alerted to a particular scene from one of the films that have been screened for them, Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946). In that scene the female protagonist Alicia (played by Ingrid Bergman) is in bed recovering from a night of heavy drinking. Hitchcock visually communicates the message that her perspective is compromised with a disorientating 360 degree pan of the camera following the movements of Devlin, the male protagonist played by Cary Grant, as he walks into the room. This is a “point of view” shot, where the camera enables us to see through the eyes of Alicia. The understanding of how the mobile frame relates to meaning (denotation) is then applied to other parts of the same film, to other films that feature in the module (Rupert Sanders’ use of the 360 degree pan in Snow White and the Huntsman, 2012), and in the latter half of the module to a film that the student selects (connotation).

In turn, that visual message is also correlated with the academic discourse specific to the module: how we view the female perspective has an impact on the ideology that relates to women in film. In this case, Alicia’s perspective is shown to be impaired, and this limits her narrative agency. The academic discourse is familiarised through the reading of articles and book chapters centered on the representation of women in film as well as in discussions, written assignments and oral presentations. Fluency in academic discourse and the ability to decode films are highly transferable skills, particularly with the increased use of film across academic disciplines and in undergraduate English-based Departments – an observation made by Ellen Bishop as early as in 1999 in her seminal work on film in writing courses. As a global cultural phenomenon, a versatility with the language of film can also, arguably, prepare students not only for future studies, but also for working life, the third component in Contix.

Both CLIL and IEM are innovative educational approaches that raise students from an awareness of the meaning of language to an ability to use that language in context. This moment of catharsis, and therefore creativity, is enabled by the dual focus of content and language, the foundation of CLIL and the IEM modules.

Case Study 2: Prizes and Popular Culture
In Prizes and Popular Culture, students are exposed to the world of prizes, and invited to consider who benefits from prizes, what roles prizes fulfil, and what they reflect about cultural values and preoccupations at any specific time. To talk and write about prizes in a way that elevates the pop cultural to the academic, students need to learn a language that enables them to do so. CLIL’s dual approach is employed, where students are exposed to content and its concomitant discourse in an authentic exploration of original ideas. I use two seminal texts, one by Street, “Showbusiness of a serious kind: A cultural politics of the arts prize” (2005) and the other by English, The Economy of Prestige (2005). Both writers have studied the prize phenomenon and have created a discourse around the topic that students can apply in their own research.

In “Showbusiness of a serious kind’: A cultural politics of the arts prize,” Street offers a foundational discourse for his analysis of the prize phenomenon, and we spend a large part of a class unpacking the language in the first few paragraphs. I underline the words and terms that offer the opportunity for analysis:

This article explores the cultural politics of the arts prize, in an attempt to make sense of the economic, aesthetic and political interests that are organized into the phenomenon, and to assess its impact on cultural policy and practice. My general point is that the arts prize plays an important part in contemporary culture, but that it has not received the attention it warrants. It has practical consequences for cultural policy and cultural discourse, and it has theoretical consequences for arguments about aesthetics. My more narrow point is that we need to understand the arts prize as a particular kind of media event, one that is constructed through the actions of a variety of stakeholders (sponsors, media institutions, culture industries) and then deployed in the making and marketing of cultural artefacts.

One reason why the arts prize has been overlooked may lie in its apparently anomalous character. It embodies a form of critical judgement that defies those who bemoan a decline into ‘relativism’ and those who welcome the unseating of traditional claims about aesthetic ‘standards’.

After a discussion in class about the possible meanings of the underlined phrases, students engage with Street’s implicit appropriation of these terms and ideas through examples and illustrations of how they manifest in the prize industry. The readings to this point provide a contextual framework, that is, one directly related to the topic, and one that provides a language through which to think, write and talk about prizes.

However, to elevate this discussion beyond a generally more descriptive level, I introduce students to readings on popular culture. These readings offer contradictory analyses of the function of pop culture. In some readings, such as Macdonald’s stridently damning article, “A Theory of Mass Culture” (1957), pop culture is described in terms such as “like chewing gum” (p. 22), “for mass consumption” (p 22), “to exploit” (p 23), etc. In others, pop culture is explained as being empowering, “culture by the people and for the people” (Danesi, 2008, p.4). In providing a popular cultural approach as conceptual framework, with its unique discourse pertaining to cultural studies, students are invited to revisit the world of prizes, and review this world through the conceptual framework of popular culture. Another set of linguistic tools have been provided, in this case the language through which popular culture is theorized, and students are exposed to this language and the debates within the discipline to equip them with high order content and an appropriate language to think and write about that content.

In positioning two discourses in terms of one another, that of “prizes” and of “popular culture”, students discover how when different discourses intersect, new opportunities for creative thinking arise. In the spirit of CLIL, the acquisition of language and content is inseparably linked and happens concurrently. This “purposeful” reading allows for a critical, as well as creative reading process, a process identified by Paul as happening at the intersection of critical and creative thinking (1993).

Paul (1993) makes a strong case for the often-neglected role of creativity in critical thinking. He offers a very comprehensive description of the process of critical thinking, which essentially entails re-constructing the “logic” within a text, and assimilating this within your existing understanding of the context and ideas shaped by the text. Paul describes this (often unwitting) process as one of “reasoned creation” (p. 28). This assimilating process should never be uncritical, but one in which we “critically dialogue” (p. 28) with the text, thereby responding to questions that arise from the text, and through answering those questions engender new ideas and meanings. Students employ the language provided by Street and James to verbalize their understanding of how prizes from the Nobel to American Idol are constructed and to what effect. The language provided by readings on popular culture provides them with contradictory interpretations of the role of popular culture, and subsequently they enter into a process of critical dialogue with the texts, a process which allows for “reasoned creation” of original insights. Through bringing different discourses to a phenomenon, in this case the prize, students re-read the prize in a “purposeful” (Paul, p. 22) way, and generate original ideas and questions in the process. Paul believes that through reinforcing the habits of reading with care, precision, “respectful of evidence, responsive to good reasons” (p.31), i.e. aware of good argumentation, and constant self-reflection, students become empowered and more critically independent. In short, this process, although reasoned and methodical, is most successful when the outcome has entailed a creative engagement with the text. Critical Thinking is “purposeful” thinking “(p. 22).

Reading with a purpose goes beyond the ingesting and accepting of information, and is an energetic reading process. In the case of Prizes and Popular Culture, the prize phenomenon, usually regarded as mere “spectator sport” (Street, p. 819) and form of entertainment, can be revisited, and its inception, results or narrative can be re-evaluated as social commentary, whether reinforcing conservative ideas, or empowering marginalized voices. Contextual and conceptual frameworks can provide both the discourse needed to “language content”, as well as the focus and purpose that Paul regards essential to critical and creative thinking. But, fundamental to the process is a sensitivity to how language empowers, and how it is inseparably linked to the content learners are engaging with. I recognise a resonance with Ting’s claim that “Potentially, CLIL can open a new chapter in 21st century education, one which must provide learners with a deep-level comprehension of concepts rather than a myriad of facts (2010, p.14).

Case Study 3: Eating Right(s): The Politics of Food
In the three units that comprise Eating Right(s): The Politics of Food, students examine how current practices of food production, trade and consumption impact communities, landscapes and species worldwide and why, therefore, ‘eating’ is a political act. Course readings are selected to serve the dual purpose of familiarizing students with important concepts and debates in the topic area and promoting critical engagement by explicitly modeling how arguments are constructed. As explained earlier, our students do not learn a foreign language in the conventional sense. However, through their immersion in a discursive field, they acquire “skills and competencies” in a new academic language that, as is fundamental in CLIL, facilitate their “active” participation in “authentic, meaningful communication” on the topic (Georgiou, 2012, p. 495). Although the topic of the politics of food lends itself quite readily to multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives, echoing the inclusive approach of CLIL, I take special care to ensure that the readings appeal to students with varied experiences, knowledge and academic interests. For example, in Unit 2, where we examine the debates surrounding agricultural biotechnology, students read four academic articles that focus on a range of interrelated concerns. They include an economist’s view that global food security can only be achieved by boosting yields through large-scale, corporate driven agriculture and genetically modified (GM) crops; a political scientist’s call for public investment in biotech plant research and infrastructure to empower small farmers and conserve land and biodiversity in the developing world against corporate monopolies; scholarship at the intersection of science and social justice that questions the motivations underlying the United States’ GM food aid to Africa; and the work of a biologist who, upon examining the medium- and long-term social and environmental impacts of agricultural biotechnology, concludes that it will exacerbate global poverty and hunger and cause irreparable damage to ecosystems and biodiversity. Documentary films and other materials sourced by students provide additional insights and points of view.

Through carefully scaffolded reading and writing activities, students are prompted to consider and make connections between various aspects of the arguments in order to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at stake. Rather than reading primarily for information, they focus on how ideas and viewpoints are presented. As they identify purpose, research questions and main claims, recognize how ideology shapes perceptions, which inferences are based on unexamined or dubious assumptions, what constitutes evidence in different disciplines and the ways it may be effectively integrated in argumentation, students learn to be more discerning readers of others’ work. And understanding the process of meaning-making in academic writing (the ‘new’ language) enables them to critically/creatively incorporate specific strategies and structures used by published authors into their own essays to engender fresh questions and perspectives on concepts and debates pertaining to the modular topic.

More challenging, however, is the task of cultivating open-minded, self-reflexive reading and thinking. While students are quick to detect prejudices and gaps in the logic of others, they are often unaware or reluctant to examine their own assumptions and biases. For example, some students may be persuaded that a scientist’s argument about biotechnology is credible even before properly evaluating it, because of deference to “expert” opinion. Such acceptance could also be due to personal ideological biases that students have not reflected on or are unaware of. Ideological biases are more easily pinpointed in arguments that unsettle or oppose the status quo and/or the student’s beliefs, and a single instance of inadequate evidence may be considered sufficient to dismiss an entire argument especially if it does not affirm the student’s opinions.

The peer review process during which students read and offer written feedback on essay drafts is another case in point. I sometimes find that students who provide perceptive and detailed comments on others’ arguments are unable to read their own work with the same critical eye. Teaching students to be “fair-minded” readers and writers “confident in reason” and willing to “equally consider all relevant viewpoints” (Paul and Elder 2006, p. 194) before arriving at a conclusion involves creating a supportive classroom environment in which they can trace and reflect on the “moves” they make in their own thinking (Elder and Paul 2010, np). More importantly, it necessitates being open-minded and well-informed ourselves, seeing value in complexity and ambiguity and resisting the inclination to oversimplify or even shape student responses by repeatedly asserting our own positions on issues and texts. The seminar style and blended classroom formats of IEM, in which the instructor acts as a facilitator or co-investigator rather than the final authority, also help to foster critical independence.

As indicated above, Georgiou acknowledges the value of CLIL in creating “a context for authentic, meaningful communication” and “active learning” that helps “transcend the isolation that sometimes characterizes the language learning field” (2012, pp. 495-496). Likewise, by establishing an environment in which students consistently “use the language” to analyze and produce knowledge about the world through “a dialogic relation with their peers, the teacher and the materials,” the IEM Programme circumvents the exam-centered and purely structural, skills-based curricula that Georgiou identifies as a key source of discontent in many language classrooms (2012, pp. 496-497). The IEM programme, we believe, allays Georgiou’s concern that, in practice, CLIL could result in a superficial or inaccurate engagement with content that fails to challenge students cognitively. The high standards of intellectual engagement expected in the IEM programme ensure that there is no compromise as far as content is concerned. The conscious selection of teachers who have content expertise, as well as investment in the importance of good writing practice, conforms to Georgiou’s insistence on the importance of teacher training in multiple areas as crucial for the successful implementation of CLIL. In their recent book on the subject, Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010) advocate team teaching and other alliances between content and language experts. The IEM programme was conceptualized as evolving through collaborations between content experts with interdisciplinary research and teaching interests, specialists in rhetoric and composition and ELT scholars. Today, five years since its inception, the programme is largely staffed by content experts with varying degrees of research and/or teaching experience in either or both rhetoric and composition and ELT scholarship. This fusion of competencies and training guarantees that course materials are intellectually challenging, comprehensive and up-to-date, and that teachers are capable of guiding student projects. Additionally, although modular topics and texts reflect individual interests and expertise, overall curriculum design continues to be a team effort.


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Hüttner, J., & Smit, U. (2014). CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning): The bigger picture. A response to: A. Bruton. (2013). CLIL: Some of the reasons why … and why not. System, 44(1), 160-167.

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About the Authors
Coleen Angove blogColeen Angove has been teaching in the National University of Singapore’s Ideas and Exposition Module Programme since 2010. She has designed three writing courses: Prizes and Popular Culture and more recently The Detective at first year level, and Blood, Death and Desire: Interpreting the Vampire at second year level. Before Singapore she taught for 15 years at South African universities.

Lynette Tan blogLynette Tan Yuen Ling has a PhD in Film Studies and teaches film and academic writing at the National University of Singapore. She has taught English Literature and Film Studies courses in universities in the UK and Singapore for over 12 years. Her research interests include Hollywood and Singapore Cinema, Post-colonial Studies, and more recently, Gamification in Higher Education.

Anuradha Ramanujan blogAnuradha Ramanujan teaches content-focused academic writing at the National University of Singapore. She has also taught literature, critical theory and composition at the Universities of Delhi and Florida. Her research interests include contemporary Indian literature and cultural politics, postcolonial feminisms, environmental ethics and politics and critical animal studies.

Language-sensitive CLIL Teaching in Higher Education: Approaches to Successful Lesson Planning

by Ulla Fürstenberg, University of Graz
and Petra Kletzenbauer
FH Joanneum – University of Applied Sciences,

In response to increased international cooperation, mobility and profiling within the European context, many tertiary educational institutions now offer degree programmes taught in English, the language of academia. However, adapting the concept of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) for an educational setting where non-native English speaking content teachers have to teach their subjects in English, often with very little preparation and support from their institutions, poses considerable challenges. The lack of proper methodological training and support from stakeholders, and complex linguistic learning situations – to name just a few – complicate the realisation of the concept of CLIL in this context. The ‘dual focus’ of CLIL (language and content learning aims integrated in class in order to achieve proficiency in both dimensions) in particular is problematic as the classes are mainly content-driven. Developing and strengthening content teacher’s language awareness must, therefore, be a central element of training courses to prepare these teachers for CLIL as an increased awareness of language issues can lead to more effective lesson planning and thus more successful CLIL lessons (cf. Hüttner, Dalton-Puffer & Smit, 2013). In this paper, we will present lesson planning guidelines for content teachers that aim to increase their awareness of issues of language and didactics and show how these guidelines can be applied to an authentic content teaching sequence in an IT subject at an Austrian University of Applied Sciences[1]. We will also discuss the benefits and challenges of collaborations between content and language teachers in this particular educational context.

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In recent years, the European educational landscape has been profoundly influenced by Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in the form of diverse English-language educational programmes and initiatives in countries where English is an additional language. In higher education, numerous institutions aim to achieve greater international recognition and prestige by offering degree programmes taught in English. However, there is often little awareness of the complexity of teaching and learning through an additional language. Not only are the challenges of this situation not addressed, the potential of this situation for CLIL is sadly not realized either.

“CLIL is a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of content and language with the objective of promoting both content and language mastery to pre-defined levels” (Marsh, 2010, p. 11). It is widely acknowledged that successfully realizing the dual focus in CLIL is “a challenge at the individual and systematic levels” (Mehisto, 2012, p. 70), especially in settings where the foreign / second language is not spoken in the students’ and teachers’ local communities.

In contrast to teachers in immersion or bilingual programmes, which are generally run in countries where more than one language is spoken (Canada is a prime example), content specialists[2] in Austria (where this is not the case) lecturing in degree programmes taught in English in higher education often do not have the appropriate language proficiency level for teaching confidently and efficiently in the language they use in the classroom (usually English), much less an additional degree in English (as is the case for many CLIL content teachers in Austrian secondary schools). This situation arose because Austrian university authorities often decided to introduce English-language degree programmes with little preparation or support given to the lecturers, assuming that because of their experience with English-language publications and presentations at international conferences, academics must consequently also be capable of teaching content in English.

In reality, there is, of course, more to being a successful CLIL teacher than the ability to give presentations in English, but “there are many misconceptions and erroneous assumptions that lead some to consider that these [CLIL] programmes can be implemented simply by changing the language in which the subjects are taught” (Pavón Vázquez, 2013, p. 83). Crucially, “[t]he pedagogical relevance of (classroom) discourse for learning and for developing subject expertise is largely ignored or downplayed, as has become highly apparent in the wake of the recent trend toward internationalisation of universities” (Smit, 2013, p. 15). Ironically, in consequence, teachers are not given proper training and support. It is assumed that if they are able to use English they are, by definition, already well equipped for teaching in a CLIL situation. This lack of language support puts them in a position where they are fully responsible for choosing materials and methods for a highly complex teaching situation which they lack the proper language training for: “[the teachers] decide largely autonomously on their ability to teach CLIL and the materials and methods they wish to use, and [this] places high levels of responsibility on the individual teacher” (Hüttner, Dalton-Puffer & Smit, 2013, p. 279).

This lack of attention given to appropriate training for Austrian lecturers in higher education who teach their subjects English potentially has serious consequences. Without adequate preparation for teaching in a CLIL context, i.e. some training in English and methodology, content teachers quite often miss the main goal of this educational approach altogether and give lecture-type classes where the focus on the content but not on English.

Interaction and direct teacher-student communication are reduced to a minimum due to the content teachers’ lack of language awareness and knowledge of the appropriate pedagogical methods for successfully combining content and language. Not only does this lead to frustration in the classroom for teachers and students alike, it even threatens the continued existence of the degree programmes taught in English. If the quality of instruction is seen to suffer when English is introduced as the language of instruction, this reinforces existing fears within the universities that teaching in English leads to a ‘dumbing down’ of the subject content and consequently to poorer learning outcomes. Eventually, this might lead institutions to the conclusion that degree programmes taught in English are doomed to fail, and they could one day be abolished as precipitately as they were introduced. This would be unfortunate as there is great potential in educational situation where an additional language is used as the language of instruction. It is unfortunate if the focus is on the challenges rather than on the potential of the situation. It is not English as the language of instruction that is the problem, but the way teaching in English is often introduced and implemented. In fact, a CLIL approach would be the perfect way to address the challenges of the situation and fully realize the potential.

Although internationalisation is part of most Austrian universities’ vision for their future and degree programmes taught in English are seen as an important means to achieve this, there have been hardly any initiatives for preparing lecturers for CLIL in terms of teaching formats, language learning guidelines and teacher qualification. However, in the absence of intensive, long-term training programmes, there has been some demand for intensive methodology seminars for lecturers at universities to prepare them for teaching in English, and we (the authors of this paper) have been involved in designing and teaching such seminars for a number of years now. One of our goals has always been to bridge the gap between content and language teaching that exists in higher education and to point lecturers in the direction of CLIL, in particular by supporting them in developing their language awareness.

Although we do address language issues (the language of the classroom, general and subject-specific vocabulary, pronunciation etc.) in the seminars, it would be unrealistic to attempt to significantly improve the seminar participants’ general language proficiency within such a short time (typically no more than 20-30 hours of instruction). The goal of our teacher training seminars is, therefore, to at least create a minimum of language awareness among content specialists. Firstly, we aim to raise content teachers’ awareness of the way they use speak English. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we draw attention to the way activities in class have to be designed and the interactive teaching methods that should be used to address the linguistic challenges of the CLIL situation. The main goal here is to make teachers aware of the specific language support that is required in order for students to successfully complete their tasks. In the final stages of the training seminars, we look beyond the level of individual tasks and work on lesson planning.

Ideally, every CLIL teacher should be a proficient speaker of the CLIL language and also have a good understanding of how languages are learned (cf. Wolff, 2012). In the situation we have described above, content teachers often lack this kind of knowledge about language and therefore tend to ignore the linguistic complexity of the CLIL situation in their lesson planning, which can result in unrealistic lesson plans (e.g. involving too much content for the time available and/or linguistically too complex material) for their CLIL classes.

The objective of this paper is to present some of our insights into how the problem discussed above is addressed in our teacher training seminars. We will also present the results of a collaboration with a content teacher when planning a CLIL lesson and discuss the potential of such collaborations in the specific teaching context (CLIL in a tertiary-level educational institution in a country where the CLIL language is a foreign language and not the L1 of either the teacher or the students) outlined above. We will contextualize the central issue of this paper by providing some information on the current situation of CLIL programmes in Austria and the misconceptions surrounding this pedagogical approach in higher education.

CLIL rationale and misconceptions
European universities have a variety of strategic reasons for implementing CLIL programmes, many of them are linked to a desire to increase visibility and stay competitive in the increasingly globalised world of higher education. By teaching content in English, the global lingua franca, universities hope to attract not only local but also international students. It also enables universities to position themselves in the international arena by creating new opportunities for its students in the global market. CLIL programmes also enhance educational, economic and cultural partnerships with other countries and contribute to the creation of collaborative networks among universities in academic, professional and research fields (Pavón, Vázquez & Gaustad, 2013, p. 84).

There are also numerous advantages to teaching complex subject matter in a foreign language from the pedagogical point of view. According to studies at undergraduate (Dalton-Puffer, 2008; Dalton-Puffer, & Smit 2007; Lasagabaster, 2008; Marsh, Baetens Beardsmore, deBot, Mehisto, and Wolff, 2009; Ruiz de Zarobe & Jiménez, 2009) and graduate levels (Airey, 2004; Coleman, 2006; Coyle, 2004; Coyle, Holmes and King, 2009; Dafouz, Núñez, Sancho, and Foran, 2007; Dafouz & Núñez, 2009; Doiz, Lasagabaster, and Sierra, 2013; Fortanet-Gómez, 2013; Johnson & Swain, 1994; Lorenzo, 2002, 2008; Pérez-Cañado, 2013; Smit & Dafouz, 2013; Wilkinson, 2004) the success of Content and Language Integrated Learning is evident (Pavón Vázquez & Gaustad, 2013, p. 83) in terms of improved content and foreign language proficiency.

Pavón Vázquez and Gaustad (2013, p. 84) summarize the results of previous research into the advantages of CLIL programmes as follows: “[T]he overall benefits of this type of education are linked to improved motivation, increased knowledge of specific terminology, the strengthening of intercultural communicative competence, meaning-centred and communication-centred learning, the promotion of teacher-student and student-student interaction, and as a result, improvement in overall target language proficiency.” Being required to process complex content presented in a foreign language improves students’ motivation to improve their language skills: “[T]he necessity to understand complex content through an additional language also improves students’ attitudes towards their own learning of that language which is considered one of the most important drivers of learning among adult learners in formal settings” (Pavón Vázquez & Gaustad. 2013, p. 84).

Students also benefit in terms of self-awareness and confidence: “[A]s students progress in the additional language they become more confident about the communication skills they are able to develop As they gain confidence, feelings of inhibition and inferiority disappear. By improving their language competence, students gain greater self-awareness of their own capabilities in both the classroom setting and in terms of their future professional development” (Pavón Vázquez & Gaustad. 2013, p. 84).

These are very weighty arguments in favour of CLIL in higher education[3], but there is an important caveat: CLIL can only be realised if the whole educational system in question is not being averse in implementing changes in terms of structural, organizational and pedagogical initiatives.

Thus, it is obvious that universities have to take certain measures to guarantee successful implementation of CLIL programmes, and teacher training programmes that equip content teachers with the necessary language awareness, and relevant methodological tools are the first step towards successful CLIL programmes. As Smit (2013, p. 15) points out, the success of CLIL programmes depends on teachers who have “the appropriate expertise to help their students in their discursive learning process”.

Successful CLIL teaching requires content teachers to move away from the traditional concept of lecturing to a more interactive engagement with the subject matter: “[T]eaching through a second language advocates the use of methodological strategies to promote interaction and language use in the classroom as the main means for students to access information. It aims to harness the principle of redundancy (repetition and coordination of content) and comprehensible input” (Pavón Vázquez & Gaustad, 2013, p. 84). Clearly, content teachers in a CLIL context need to develop their language awareness in order to create a language-rich CLIL classroom and achieve language-sensitive CLIL teaching and learning: “The teacher of whatever material is being taught in an L2, should not only update his linguistic knowledge to a standard and recognized level of fluency but should develop a different linguistic sensitivity to be able to adapt the contents to the new language and develop teaching procedures that make it possible for the student to learn” (Lorenzo, 2005, as cited in Pavón Vázquez & Ellison, 2005, p. 71).

Planning for teaching in English: Considerations and innovative approaches
In a CLIL context, language awareness plays a crucial role when lecturers plan their teaching. A lack of awareness of how the teacher uses language him-/herself for pedagogic purposes can lead to poor planning and frustrating experiences for all actors in the classroom: students become demotivated because they cannot complete the tasks successfully due to the lack of adequate language instruction and support, and teachers are dissatisfied with their choice of materials and activities when the results fall short of the expected learning outcomes. Therefore, content specialists in higher education, for whom language awareness is usually an unfamiliar concept, ideally need either the support from language specialists – if available at their institutions – or the advice of CLIL instructors when they plan their CLIL lessons.

However, it is important to realize that language awareness cannot be taught explicitly. As Bolitho, Carter, Hughes, Ivanic, Masuhara, and Tomlinson (2003, p. 252) point out.

Language awareness is not taught by the teacher or by the coursebook; it is developed by the learner. It is an internal, gradual, realization of the realities of language use, driven by the positively curious learner paying conscious attention to instances of language in an attempt to discover and articulate patterns of language use. […] learners discover language for themselves.

It follows that language specialists working with content teachers or running teacher training seminars for inexperienced CLIL teachers have to support this process of discovery by encouraging reflection on linguistic aspects of teaching and by using tasks and activities that allow them to become more language sensitive.

In doing so, the content teachers should not be overwhelmed with strategies, activities and information they cannot digest as a whole, as is the case with, for example, Hansen-Pauly’s (2014, p. 35) comprehensive list of aspects that have to be considered when planning language-sensitive CLIL teaching:

  • Planning for language and subject learning (careful progress, differentiated learning, time constraints)
  • Methods of scaffolding integrating conceptual and linguistic elements
  • Use of languages for interaction and knowledge construction in group work
  • Language skills development, in particular, reading skills and text comprehension, interactive learning in L2, academic writing
  • Practices of remediation
  • Vocabulary work as part of literacy development,
  • Translation, mediation and translanguaging[4] activities for specific learning situations
  • Multimodal approaches to facilitate comprehension

It is tempting to hand content teachers this as a sort of ‘checklist’ when working on lesson planning with them, but they might not find it helpful because they are not used to thinking about teaching in these terms. Instead, it might be better to use a pragmatic approach that concentrates on setting realistic goals in terms of content teachers’ language awareness and use of interactive methods. Such an approach would help content teachers feel secure and comfortable when teaching in a foreign language.

Successful planning for teaching in English should be seen as a process that takes time. Where this is possible, a language specialist supporting the lecturer or the trainer of a teacher training seminar for CLIL lecturers can help to raise awareness of the role of language and provide lecturers with a set of tools to plan their CLIL teaching independently at a later stage.

A step-by-step guide for CLIL lesson planning
The guidelines that we have developed for Austrian content teachers working in a CLIL context in an Austrian University of Applied Sciences is intentionally simple, as jargon-free as possible and limited to a few key steps. The main goal is to convince content teachers that it is possible to have a more language-rich lesson where interaction, learner-centeredness and active learning are essential elements of the lesson by being aware of the linguistic challenges of the various tasks and using some simple methodological ‘tools’ . The guidelines are based on content teachers’ own questions and the concerns they raised in our CLIL training seminars.

In particular, we found that while content teachers often have a wealth of materials at their disposal, having to think about using diverse teaching methods, organising tasks into teaching sequences and providing language support is a new experience for them; they do not know how to turn their sources into learning resources (Fürstenberg & Kletzenbauer, 2012). A repertoire of interactive teaching methods, however, is an essential element of successful CLIL lesson planning (Fürstenberg & Kletzenbauer, 2013).

Research suggests that, in a CLIL context, students very often need support for interaction, and as Hansen-Pauly (2014, p. 22) stresses,

…teachers have to provide suitable scaffolding. The appropriation of key phrases for questioning, challenging and responding will simultaneously promote leaners’ cognitive and language development. A step-by-step conscious development of concepts and appropriate language prevents experiences of frustration which are detrimental to learning. Especially for group and individual work, precisely formulated questions for each step of a task will help overcome language barriers and facilitate contributions or answers in a foreign language.

Our guidelines are intended to help content teachers achieve Hansen-Pauly’s goals.

Think about your aims for your lesson: what do you want your students to learn?

Break these general aims down into concrete teaching points.

How are the students going to learn? Think about methods and materials you could use for each teaching point.

NB: The AIMS should always come before the METHODS – you should pick the method that is best for a particular teaching point. Sometimes this will simply mean ‘Talk and Chalk‘! 

Write down a lesson plan. You could use:

  • a very detailed structure of the lesson (listing tasks, methods, classroom arrangements, teaching notes and times)
  • a brief ‘running order‘ (a reminder of the sequence of tasks you have planned for a session)
  • a flow chart (to remind you of the logical sequence of your tasks) etc. – whatever works best for you.

Critically reflect on your lesson plan and revise as needed: Is there variety in my lesson?

If not – think some more about methods (Talk & Chalk, interactive methods…), class arrangements (group work, pair work…) and materials (video, texts, worksheet, ppt…)

What are the challenges for my students, both in terms of content and in terms of language?

Think about how you can help your students (scaffolding: worksheets, grids, glossaries, using simple language, allowing time for thinking…)

Have fun teaching!

Reflect on your teaching experience. What will you do differently the next time you teach this lesson? 

Revise and file your lesson plan.

Our guidelines are based on the idea that lesson planning is not about producing elaborate written documentation; rather, it is essentially a ‘thinking skill’ (Scrivener, 2011, p. 123), and it is up to the content teachers whether they want to draw up a written lesson plan at all and what format they choose if they decide to do so. The main goal of the guidelines is to get content teachers to think about the methods they are going to use once they have decided what the aims of a lesson are and to encourage them to develop a greater awareness of their students’ language needs.

Ideally, content teachers using the guidelines will first think about their overall aims for a lesson and the teaching points they intend to address. They then draw up a provisional lesson plan on the basis of the materials at their disposal and using the teaching methods they is familiar with (e.g. the interactive methods displayed in Fürstenberg & Kletzenbauer, 2013). Rather than teaching according to this lesson plan immediately, however, we encourage him/her to critically reflect on his/her lesson plan first, paying particular attention to the methods he/she intends to use to teach content as well as to the students’ language needs.

It is at this point in the lesson panning process that co-operation with a language teacher can be extremely useful as the language teacher can provide the content teacher with a different perspective and evaluate the linguistic aspects of the teaching materials the content teacher is planning to use. A language teacher can also advise the content teacher on how to provide language support for the students.

The following example is the result of a collaboration between a language and a content teacher. Together, we designed a lesson on the topic of ‘Mobile First’ (for an explanation of the concept see below) together with a content teacher for the course ‘Mobile Platforms,’ which is part of the Master’s programme “IT & Mobile Security” at a University of Applied Sciences in Austria. The language of instruction in the programme is English. The content teacher is an L1 speaker of German with good English skills (Level B2, i.e. ‘independent user’, of the Common European Framework for Languages[5]). Typically, the students of the degree programme are also non-native speakers of English, and the student population at the University of Applied Sciences are predominately Austrian and L1 speakers of German. There is considerable individual variation between students’ language English proficiency, but they fall mostly into the range of B1/B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Group size in the IT and Mobile Security programme ranges from 15 to 25 students.

‘Mobile First’ programming: The original lesson plan
In the lesson we picked for our collaboration, the content teacher worked on ‘Mobile First’ programming with his students. ‘Mobile First’ refers to the process of “designing an online experience for mobile before designing it for the desktop Web or any other device. […] Mobile first shifts the paradigm of a Web-site user experience. Instead of users’ viewing desktop versions of Web sites on their mobile device with some adjustments, users are now viewing sites that have been created specifically for their mobile device” (Graham, 2012).

The teaching sequence was not newly developed by the content teacher. He had already taught it several times before, but never in English. When we started working together, he had already completed steps 1 and 2 of our guidelines: he had decided what the aims of the lesson were and he had broken these aims down into concrete teaching points. Our collaboration was mainly carried out via e-mail, with only two face-to-face meetings with one of us to go over the teaching material.

According to the provisional lesson plan the content teacher provided when we started working together, the overall aim of the lesson was to teach students to design a user-friendly mobile application using ‘Mobile First’ programming. To do this, the students would have to understand why it is important to plan, design and test of such an application on mobile devices right away, instead of first designing a desktop version and adapt it for use on mobile devices later.

Developing the teaching sequence
The content teacher had three main aims for the lesson. The students had to

  1. understand the target group for mobile applications and encourage them to think about the circumstances in which people use mobile applications;
  2. design (in groups) a mobile application of their choice and draw a flipchart poster of 1-3 pages (including navigation, buttons, etc.) of their application, keeping in mind the target group for their application and the problem(s) it is intended to solve;
  3. present the flipchart posters.

Step 3 of our guidelines encourages content teachers to think about methods and materials they could use for each teaching point. This is where we became involved, and at this point, co-operation between content and language teachers becomes very interesting: the materials (texts, videos, etc.) have to be provided by the content teacher, but the language teachers have different ideas for exploiting the materials and turning them into learning resources. Based on the materials provided by our colleague, we suggested the following teaching sequence[6]:

Task 1 – Good and bad mobile applications
Students work in groups of five. Using their own mobile devices, they analyze a mobile application pre-selected by the teacher. They have to comment on the positive and negative aspects of the application and explain why certain features are problematic. The groups then compare the results of their discussions.

Task 2 – The ideal mobile application
Students are presented with a series of visual cues about the use of mobile devices. They continue working in groups. Each group has to list five characteristics of a well-designed mobile application. The characteristics are collected by the teacher, and the students then rank them from most important to least important. This can be done quite efficiently by telling every student to allocate three points to the feature he considers most important, two to the second-most important one, and one point to the third most important feature.

Task 3 – Why Mobile First?
The teacher sets up a so-called “expert round” on aspects of ‘Mobile First’. This means that students work in three groups and extract the most important points from a series of PowerPoint slides by Luke Wroblewski, one of the leading proponents of ‘Mobile First’ programming. After reading some quotes by influential figures in the field together, students are split into three groups. The first group works on the section “growth = opportunity”, the second group on “constraints = focus”, and the third group on “capabilities = innovation”. It is not the goal at this stage to summarize all the information on the slides; the idea is simply to choose some interesting points to share with the other students. When every group has collected a few interesting points, the students form new groups. Each group now contains at least one ‘expert’ on the three aspects discussed before, and the students share their insights.

Task 4 – Designing a mobile application
In this phase, students design their own application based on what they have learned in tasks 1-3. This activity is called “Paper Prototyping” (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Example of ‘Paper Prototyping’[7]

Task 5 – Presentation and discussion
The groups present a poster of their ideas for their applications (“Paper Prototyping”) and receive feedback from the other groups and the teacher. At this stage, there will be a mixture of German and English on the students’ posters.

Task 6 – Homework
Students watch a video of Luke Wroblewski giving his ‘Mobile First’ presentation (material taken from to remind them of the points covered in class and find an application that they consider to be a successful example of ‘Mobile First’ programming to present in class in the next session.

Focus on language
Step 4 of our guidelines asks the content teacher to write a lesson plan in a format that he/she feels comfortable with. The result might look like the brief ‘running order’ above. Step 5 calls for critical reflection on (and, if necessary, revision of) the lesson plan, specifically concerning the variety of methods and materials and language support. The language teacher’s role at this stage is to help the content teacher create a language-rich environment. In our teaching sequence, we provided suggestions for enhancing the language component of each of the tasks.

Task 1 – Good and bad mobile applications
To get the conversation started, it would be a good idea to give the students the English vocabulary they need beforehand. This can also be a way of introducing the necessary technical language (or revise it if the students already know it) and encourage the students to use it instead of falling back on strategies such as paraphrasing or resorting to German. The teacher could provide a list of features and characteristics or a grid that the students have to fill in, rather than just telling them to analyze an application without providing language support.


Task 2 – The ideal mobile application

In this phase, language could be added to the visual cues. For example, captions could be added to the pictures, and the teacher could use gaps or scrambled words to render selected vocabulary items salient. The caption for the picture of the man on the motorbike, for example (see Figure 2), could read “Don’t _____________ and drive!”, drawing the students’ attention to the verb ‘text’, which is more idiomatic than ‘to write sms’, which would be the first choice of many German speakers due to interference (the most common German expressions for texting are ‘sms schreiben’, ‘smsen’, ‘simsen’).

Langsens_2  Figure 2: Beckham is “bending” the rules…[8]

Task 3 – Why ‘Mobile First’?
In this phase, the students will tend to carry out their own language research on their devices while they work in groups. They are likely to be familiar with the technical English of their field of study, but general or business vocabulary such as ‘to outpace’, ‘shipment’, ‘to scope out a neighbourhood’, ‘revenue’ etc. might present problems. The teacher should encourage students to make a list of the English words they have to look up and also jot down a translation or explanation. This information can then be collated and turned into a student-written glossary for the whole PowerPoint sequence. This will be useful when students listen to the whole PowerPoint presentation independently outside of class since they only work with a part of the material intensively in the expert round.

Task 4 – Designing a mobile application
In this phase, the students can add more items to the vocabulary lists which will form the basis of the glossary. Students can also be told to avoid using any German expressions on their posters.

Task 5 – Presentation and discussion
In this phase, the teacher might want to consider setting a time limit for the presentation. This could take the form of an ‘Elevator Pitch’ task, where students are told that they have only a limited amount of time, for example, three minutes, to present their application. In addition, the teacher could provide a structure for the presentation with the English phrases that students are likely to need for each point. If the teacher is worried that students are not comfortable giving feedback to their fellow students, feedback request forms can be provided to the presenters. The form specify the areas the presenters would like feedback on, which could be content-related (what did you think of our ideas for navigation? etc.) or concern the presentation (did I speak too fast / too slowly?). As well as giving students the opportunity to organize their thoughts and prepare before they give feedback, the teacher can also use this approach to provide useful language (e.g. ‘pace’, ‘delivery’, etc.) by including it on the feedback form. Some students could also be assigned the task of taking notes during the presentations. These notes could then also be circulated and serve as a complement to the student-written glossary.

Task 6 – Homework
It is sometimes difficult for students with weaker English skills to filter out the main content points when they watch a video in English which has not been adapted for use with non-native speakers. This requires skills different from watching original material for entertainment, which most students now regularly do in their free time. The teacher can provide a worksheet to make their task easier, focusing on a list of content questions (e.g. “What can we not rely on when we design for mobile? In what way will designing for mobile first do designers a lot of good?”) or if a transcript of the video is available, the teacher could turn the most important sections into a fill-in-the-gap task by deleting the key words that he wants to draw the students’ attention to:

“I think it increasingly makes sense to start thinking about the mobile experience first, and the reason why I bother talking about this is because 99% of the time, the exact opposite thing happens. So we start with something we had on the ___________, we have these ________ and these ____________ designed for these big _________, these always-on ____________, these fast _____________ – and that creates a certain kind of approach to design that I think designing for mobile sort of breaks a lot of the things that we find comfortable there, and that breaking is good. In fact, I think it is so good that I would recommend even if you are not planning to launch a mobile _____________, which you should, or a mobile ___________, or a mobile __________ or anything like that, even spending half a day or a couple of hours just brainstorming what your product could be on mobile I think will help you ___________ a lot more, will help you kind of __________ in some areas you might not even be thinking about and will do a lot of good for you. So this is kind of the high-level approach that I am talking about, which is just starting with mobile first and then moving to other places, and I’ll talk about why.” (01:50-2:55)

[Key: desktop; screens; applications; monitors; power sources; internet connections; version; app; website; focus; innovate]

Content lecturer and language teacher cooperation: The path ahead
It is our belief that cooperation between content lecturers and language teachers is highly useful in a CLIL context in higher education:

The success of programmes involving the teaching of content through another language does not rest solely on whether the teachers responsible have a high level of linguistic and subject competence, but also on the collaboration between those teaching content subjects and languages. For example, foreign language teachers can provide invaluable linguistic support to students in their language lessons. It is not enough to increase the content teacher’s basic knowledge of the second language. These teachers need to develop a language consciousness that triggers their awareness of their own foreign language input as well as expected output from students. This is what will take their language competence to a new ‘pedagogic’ level. This is a highly skilled procedure, for not only does it imply a heightened awareness of the potential of language, but also an adaptation of teaching methodology and a more strategic use of teaching aids and materials. (Pavón Vázquez & Ellison, 2013, p. 70)

Cooperation between lecturers and language teachers is challenging and interesting for both parties. After all, both content and language teachers get an insight into the ideas and methodologies of a field they are not familiar with, and this is an opportunity to develop as a teacher. However, for practical reasons such as time constraints, cooperation like the one described above will always be limited to a few selected modules, not least because there are subjects so technical that a language teacher who is not also a content specialist will simply not be able to make any sense of the material.

Cooperation like the one described here should therefore be seen as learning opportunities on both sides and serve as a springboard for content teachers’ own lesson planning. The language support we have described for the ‘Mobile First’ teaching sequence is not very ambitious and could be provided by any content teacher with a reasonable command of English, provided the teacher is aware of the areas of language that are likely to cause difficulties for his/her students. If, for example, a content teacher starts by initiating student-written glossaries for every new topic he/she covers and encourages students to document the vocabulary they research themselves during lessons, awareness of the sort of language his/her students find difficult will be raised without causing the teacher any extra work. The students will also be made more aware of the English they use and the language they still have to learn, and they will come to accept language as a natural part of their content lessons.

A content teacher who is familiar with the rationale behind common features of language teaching, e.g. a gapped text, because of a cooperation with a language teacher on a specific project, will then be able to design similar tasks for other topics he/she covers in his content classes. It does not require any specialist training in language teaching to blank out key words in a text to make students more aware of them as we do in Task 6 above. Once a teacher understands and accepts why the technique can be useful in specific teaching situations, it is easy enough to apply without the support of a language teacher.

For content teachers, the idea of doing ‘content and language integrated learning’ in English often evokes the idea of having to explain aspects of English grammar such as the present perfect tense or the third conditional to their students, and they understandably feel that this is best left to the language specialists. However, language sensitive teaching does not mean that content teachers have to become language teachers: (see above)

To be a ‘teacher of language’ in the content class is related to facilitating students’ use of the language, helping them to use it effectively in all the language skills when dealing with content and not becoming a language teacher in the traditional sense. It would be a mistake to think that the content teacher should work on specific grammar points, and on establishing linguistic objectives different from “the ability or capacity” to do something with the language, without focusing on the strategies to make students understand and express themselves. This would be to ignore that principle of language as a medium of instruction and not an end in itself. The content teacher should not be fully in charge of teaching the language; their role is not that of ‘policing the language’ but of facilitating its use for academic purposes. (Pavón Vázquez & Ellison, 2013, p. 73)

In fact, language-related tasks such as the ones described above for the ‘Mobile First’ teaching sequence do not require in-depth theoretical knowledge of the English tense system or syntax. Beyond reasonable proficiency in English, all that is required of the content teacher is an awareness of the areas of language that his/her students find difficult and a willingness to support them in their language development in the context of their content lessons.

Content teachers in Austria are often concerned that methods such as the ones described above and providing additional English language support in their lessons will take too much time and have a negative impact on the amount of material they manage to cover in their classes. Unfortunately, this means that they often rely too much on teacher-centered lectures. While it may be true that a lecture appears more efficient than more interactive methods at first glance, we believe that this is more than compensated for by the students’ deeper conceptual understanding when more interactive methods are used. This is particularly true in a CLIL situation, where the use of English adds another layer of difficulty for the students.

Our guidelines call for a phase of reflection after teaching the lesson, and a content teacher and an English teacher who work well together may find it useful to reflect on a lesson together and discuss if anything needs to be improved. As English teachers, we are in a good position to support content teachers in developing a few simple strategies to make language awareness a component of their lesson planning. It is our belief that making language development a part of content teaching need not detract from the main content focus of a lesson and may even lead to better overall learning outcomes.

Implementing a CLIL programme requires intensive support for students, teachers and stakeholders alike. Short-term training programmes, such as our intensive CLIL teacher training seminars for content teachers, are not sufficient to guarantee positive results. More structured processes at the institutional level (e.g. intensive, long-term training programmes) are necessary to avoid experiences of frustration and demotivation that negatively affect students’ and teachers’ performance.

In fact, many CLIL researchers “argue for a combination of foreign language and CLIL teaching, but the question of whether additional foreign language teaching is necessary is at heart an empirical one and requires more, and more detailed, studies of the classroom discourse of CLIL and foreign language classes embedded in specific educational contexts” (Dalton-Puffer & Smit, 2013, p. 529).

If a combination of foreign language and CLIL teaching which is organised, supported and monitored by the institution is not an option, a close collaboration between the content and language teachers of an institution may be a viable alternative in the short term. It is to be hoped that, in time – as content teachers become more confident and language-aware – this will lead to successful language-sensitive CLIL teaching, especially if such initiatives are accompanied by empirical research.

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[1] University of Applied Sciences is a common English-language name for the institutions of higher education in several European countries which are designed with a focus on vocational [and professional, author’s comment] degrees, especially in engineering, business, and health professions. Similarly to the universities, they provide both undergraduate and postgraduate education as well as grant academic degrees, but they do not award doctoral degrees. (

[2] In the CLIL context described in this article, students are taught all their content subjects in English. The content specialists who teach these classes are not native speakers of English and not trained language teachers. The students also have compulsory English lessons. These are taught by qualified English teachers who are not specialists of the relevant content area. Collaborations between content and language teachers are informal and are not supported by the institution. Thus, the teaching of language and content can be said to be regarded as two separate areas.

[3] There has been more research on CLIL in secondary education, but despite significant differences between educational levels, we consider the lessons from CLIL in secondary education highly relevant to CLIL in higher education.

[4] “Translanguaging is the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximize communicative potential. It is an approach to bilingualism that is centered, not on language as has often been the case, but on the practices of bilinguals that are readily observable in order to make sense of their multilingual worlds”. García, O. (2011). Education, multilingualism and translanguaging in the 21st century. In Fishman, J. & García, O. (eds). 2011. Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity: The Success-Failure Continuum in Language and Ethnic Identity. Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 140 – 158.

[5] For more information on the levels of the Common European Framework for Languages, see

[6] The lesson is conducted entirely in English.

[7] ‘Paper Prototyping’

[8] Beckham is “bending” the rules… Retrieved September, 25 2014 from tag/handlebars/

About the Authors
Ulla Fuerstenberg_blog
Ulla Fürstenberg studied English at Graz University and worked in adult education, both as a language teacher and a manager, for nine years. During that time, she developed a strong interest in English for Specific Purposes and various aspects of the methodology of teaching English to adult learners. She is currently a lecturer at the English Department, Graz University, Austria, where she teaches language and methodology classes and contributes to research projects. Ulla Fürstenberg is also involved in CLIL training programmes for teachers at technical schools and universities and runs seminars and workshops for language teachers in adult education.

Petra Kletzenbauer_blogPetra Kletzenbauer studied English at Karl-Franzens University Graz, focusing on Applied Linguistics and ESP. She was a research assistant at the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Graz University being interested in the research of CLIL in tertiary education as well as foreign language teaching and learning processes. Currently, she is a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences, FH JOANNEUM Kapfenberg, teaching English at the Departments of Internet Technology and Software Design. She also holds seminars in teacher training and adult education.

Factors Influencing the Choice of CLIL Classes at University in Japan

by Howard Brown
University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan

CLIL is relatively new in Japan but growing in popularity, particularly in English language-learning contexts. Recent government figures show that as many as one third of all universities offer classes that may be considered CLIL. CLIL is being adopted both by individual teachers and in department or campus-wide programs. Teachers and administrators may adopt CLIL based on an understanding of its benefits, including the efficiency and effectiveness of its dual focus and the complementary relationship between language and content classes which develops in CLIL contexts. However, in contexts where students have an individual choice to study in a CLIL class, they are unlikely to be aware of the full range of research into these advantages. What then are their choices based on? This qualitative study of a university-level CLIL program in Japan seeks to identify factors involved in students’ choice of CLIL classes. Results from semi-structured interviews with students indicate that when they choose CLIL classes over traditional language classes, they do so with some understanding of the advantages of CLIL, based on their previous learning experiences. Participants cite the dual focus of CLIL classes and the authenticity of purpose which they can provide. The sense of challenge was also noted as setting CLIL apart from more traditional language classes. Students acknowledged that CLIL classes were demanding but chose to join a CLIL class in order to challenge themselves. A final deciding factor seemed to be intellectual curiosity about the content of the CLIL classes. Other factors associated with class choice in general were also revealed including scheduling issues and the reputation of, or a prior relationship with, the teacher. Surprisingly for a Japanese context, the influence of peers and senior students was not seen as a major deciding factor in the choice of CLIL classes.

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Content classes taught in an additional language are becoming more common around the world; in particular, English is often used as a medium of instruction. Such classes are adopted by both teachers working individually at a small scale in their own classrooms, and in institutional, regional or nationwide programs. They are seen in many patterns and known by many names: English-medium instruction (EMI), Immersion Education, Languages Across the Curriculum, Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education (ICLHI) to name a few. Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is often seen as an umbrella term for the whole range of program designs where content classes are conducted in a language other than the home language of the school or university where they are being offered (Garcia, 2009), and this term will be used for the purposes of this paper.

The Position of CLIL in Japan
The idea of CLIL is still somewhat new in Japan and is spreading slowly (Pinner, 2013a). As Ikeda, Pinner, Mehisto and Marsh (2013) have said, “If CLIL in Europe is a toddler, CLIL in Japan is a new-born baby, but it is slowly and steadily crawling forward in Japanese education” (para. 4). CLIL programs in Japan are somewhat difficult to track as the term CLIL is not yet widely used. However, programs that could be included under a broad definition of CLIL, even though the practitioners involved are not aware of CLIL as a term, are common (Iyobe & Jia, 2013). While in Europe and elsewhere CLIL may be seen mainly as a primary or secondary school phenomenon, in Japan it is occurring largely at the tertiary level.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) does not specifically track CLIL programs. It does, however, track undergraduate classes taught in English through a comprehensive bi-annual survey of all universities in Japan. It reports that nearly a third of all universities in Japan (222 universities in total) offer some courses taught in English (MEXT, 2011). The MEXT definition used in tracking these English-taught courses refers to classes conducted entirely in English, excluding those whose primary aim is language instruction. This definition is somewhat limiting and does not cover the full scope of CLIL practice.

CLIL practice can be seen as being on a continuum. At one end of the continuum, there is soft CLIL in which classroom teachers, often language teachers, integrate content into primarily language-focused classes. At the other end of the continuum, hard CLIL refers to content classes conducted in the second language, where language-learning aims are secondary (Bentley, 2010). Using the MEXT definition described above, hard CLIL classes would be counted. However, soft CLIL programs would not fall under this definition, meaning that the true extent of CLIL in Japanese universities is perhaps under-represented in the official figures.

Although exact figures are not available, earlier research indicates that the bulk of CLIL courses in Japan fall into one of two categories (Brown & Iyobe, 2014). First there are content classes positioned as part of a language-learning program, primarily English, and offered by language-teaching faculty members, often foreign, who may have some knowledge of the field or discipline being taught. The second group is composed of classes offered by content specialists, Japanese or international faculty, who teach in English but often have little or no training in language teaching. It may be useful to think about these two patterns through the language-embedded vs. adjunct CLIL framework proposed by Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010).

CLIL classes offered by language-teaching faculty may be seen as falling into the language-embedded CLIL model. In this model, the teacher is sensitive to the language-learning needs of students and is able to give the students language-learning support. Teachers in language-embedded CLIL have both language-learning and content-related outcomes in mind when planning their courses. Also, students are assessed, at least in part, with reference to language-learning aims.

On the other hand, CLIL classes offered by content faculty may be best thought of as adjunct CLIL since students will typically have language preparation classes before or at the same time the content classes are conducted in English. However, language learning outcomes may not be explicitly part of the content course itself. It should be noted that while Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010) talk about the need for coordination between the language and content faculty in an adjunct CLIL model, in many if not most cases this may be difficult in the Japanese university context due to the following factors: a strong sense of faculty autonomy, a general reluctance to collaborate on professional development, and differing views of education between language and content faculty (Iyobe, Brown, & Coulson, 2011). In fact, a lack of communication between language and content teachers in CLIL programs may be the norm rather than the exception (Brown & Iyobe, 2014).

The choice of CLIL
The choice to implement and be part of a CLIL program rests on three interrelated sets of factors influencing the motivations of institutions, teachers and students.

Institutional choice of CLIL
Institutions choose to implement CLIL for a variety of interconnected reasons. In the European context, Coleman (2006) examined universities adopting content programs taught in languages other than the university’s home language. He identified both major and minor factors that lead universities to offer such programs, especially in English. A practical desire to attract qualified international students is one leading factor. English is the acknowledged lingua franca of academia in most fields and it is quickly becoming the lingua franca of international education as well. Another important contributor to the adoption of CLIL is the prestige of the university as CLIL is seen to provide status as an innovator in both education and research. A third major factor is the pedagogical aim of improving the international competitiveness of local graduates. English-medium education is seen as providing an advantage in both career and further education opportunities. Minor contributing factors included a desire to improve research output and the need to supplement the income of the institution or program through fee-paying international students.

In Japan, institutional choice to implement CLIL programs may be governed by similar, though slightly different, factors. First, there is considerable official government support for greater internationalization of universities (Yonezawa, 2010), especially for classes conducted in English (MEXT, 2009). In addition, as in Europe, Japanese universities are experiencing a demographic crisis with a shrinking university-aged cohort of domestic students to draw on. This demographic pressure leads some universities to recruit students from abroad and/or attempt to make their institutions more attractive to domestic students. Content programs taught in foreign languages, especially English, may serve both purposes. First, they can open the door to international enrollment without placing the burden on international students to acquire academic-level Japanese proficiency. In addition, for local enrollment, CLIL may build the prestige of the university and give it a reputation for academic rigor and pedagogic innovation, as well as an international allure (Brown & Iyobe, 2014).

This prestige value may be a powerful motivator for some Japanese universities. Aspinall (2005) reports that demographic pressures are forcing some universities to lower hurdles for entrance as they “try to meet the criteria of new students rather than vice versa” (p. 215). This is seen by some as a decline in standards and has led to concerns about the declining value of university degrees. It is possible that CLIL is seen as a valued-added option in such cases, something to distinguish a university, or in some cases, a single department, from others as well as give it a competitive edge in student recruitment.

Teacher choice of CLIL
Teachers, whether they are familiar with the term CLIL and the associated literature or not, tend to choose to be part of a CLIL program through some understanding of its benefits. For language teachers, the dual focus of CLIL offers a unique way to develop a complementary relationship between language and content and gives an authenticity of purpose often missing from more traditional language lessons (Pinner, 2013b). CLIL offers both meaningful, concrete input and authentically communicative output. For content teachers, CLIL provides an opportunity to give students an advantage in an increasingly competitive world. For instance, studying in a CLIL program may be a way for students to distinguish themselves in the job market as well as in academic contexts. In addition, implementing CLIL is sometimes seen as an opportunity for professional development, a kind of new challenge, or as a route to developing effective social capital in the university community (Brown & Iyobe, 2014). Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra (2011) report that, from a faculty perspective, benefits of a CLIL program may include the following: personal gains in language proficiency, academic gains in access to teaching materials, and classroom gains in the motivation and commitment of students along with lower class sizes.

There are also some indications that Japanese faculty members, being aware of the dominance of English in academic publishing, see CLIL as a chance to give students access to the wider academic world (Brown & Adamson, 2012). They see CLIL as a chance for students to learn how to work with academic sources in both their L1, Japanese, and L2, English. Adamson and Coulson (2014) refer to this use of translanguaging as an effective way to support the students’ growing academic literacies. Lasagabaster (2013) refers to this as bilingual training and argues that strategic use of L1 can be a key advantage of CLIL.

Of course, not all teachers choose to be part of a CLIL program. In cases where CLIL is imposed in a top-down manner, Mehisto (2008) warns of the potential for disjuncture, a feeling of threat about one’s own competence that leads to resistance to the change to the new paradigm. Top-down implementation of CLIL also often leads faculty members and others to worry about domain loss for the home language of the university community. In Japan, there is also often concern about the capability of both faculty and students to thrive in an English-medium environment and their right to use their home language in academia .

Student choice of CLIL
In many contexts where CLIL is offered, students have a choice between a CLIL class, and a parallel content class offered in the home language of the institution. Thus, a student could study chemistry in their first language or in a second language in a CLIL class. In such cases, why do students choose the CLIL option? Working with university students in the natural sciences in the Turkish context, Bozdoğan and Karlıdağ (2013) found that students’ choices to join an English-taught program seemed to be influenced by several interrelated factors. The students reported that the CLIL program offered them a sense of esteem and prestige, a sense that they were part of something special. They appreciated the challenge posed by CLIL and felt that their accomplishment was worthwhile. The students also pointed to pedagogic benefits, improvements in L2 proficiency, as well as practical benefits. Studying content in English gave them access to a wider academic world than they could normally access in Turkish due to the dominance of English in academic publishing. They also sensed that they would be in a better position to obtain and take advantage of opportunities to study aboard by doing at least some of their undergraduate studies in English.

CLIL vs. Language-focused classes: The current study
The current study focuses on a case where students are offered a choice between a CLIL program and what might be called traditional language classes: skills-focused classes based on reading, writing or other facets of the language. The study attempts to determine what factors influence the students’ choice of CLIL.

Context of the study
The study was conducted at a small semi-rural university in Japan. Participants were all Japanese L1 speakers in their second year of a 4-year International Studies degree and were taking English-language classes as part of the requirements for graduation. They were exposed to CLIL as part of the required English program. Nine of the 14 required English courses in the students’ first year were language-embedded CLIL classes based on a variety of topics related to International Studies. Class themes varied by teacher but included topics such as urbanization, migration issues, international development, intercultural communications, globalization and cultural studies. A shift from soft to hard models of CLIL was part of the program design. As the year progressed, the CLIL courses shifted from what can be thought of as soft CLIL, where language needs and outcomes are an important part of course planning, to hard CLIL, which is more content-driven. The remaining five required courses consisted of more traditional skills-focused general English classes including Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Grammar. As such, students had experience in both CLIL and skills-focused class work in their first year of university studies.

By the students’ second year, the required courses in the language program were normally complete; however, students still had to take at least five additional English courses from a range of elective options. These options included skills-focused classes such as advanced reading, advanced writing, and media listening as well as hard CLIL options. The study took place as students were making their choice whether to continue studying in CLIL courses or to entirely shift to general English courses. Approximately one third of the 180 student cohort chose to make CLIL part of their elective program.

Data collection
The study was based on data generated in semi-structured interviews with eight students who had chosen to continue with CLIL as part of their elective studies. Students were interviewed one-on-one with interviews lasting between 40 and 60 minutes. Interviews were conducted in a mixture of Japanese and English, with the researcher allowing students to guide the choice of language to ensure that they were comfortable and able to express themselves clearly. All eight participants were informed of the purpose of the project in a bilingual written statement and gave their consent to be recorded and for their data to be used.

The recorded data was transcribed and analyzed using what Kvale (2008) calls meaning condensation. Based on a close reading of the interview transcripts, portions of the text pertaining to a particular point or important insight were identified. Comparing these natural meaning units across all transcripts, common ideas and central themes emerged. Then, the transcripts were re-examined with these central themes in mind, revealing additional natural meaning units. The themes discussed below emerged from the transcribed data through several iterations of this process. These themes will be described and supported by excerpts taken from the transcripts. Some interviews were conducted partially in Japanese so, where necessary, excerpts of the transcripts used below were translated into English by the researcher and checked with back-translation by a Japanese L1 translator. Excerpts are identified by the participant’s pseudonym. Where necessary, the names of teachers and other students referred to by the participants have been removed. In order to better represent the participants’ actual voice, excerpts are presented as is, including non-normative phrasing and word choice.

The participants in the study were all full-time, second-year university students majoring in International Studies. They are identified by pseudonym in Table 1.

table1Table 1: Participants’ profiles

Results and discussion
Data collected in this study seems to indicate that the participants were making the choice to join a CLIL class based on three major factors: intellectual curiosity about the content, a perception of the benefits of CLIL classes, and a sense of challenge and accomplishment. Other factors including the students’ relationship with, or image of, the teacher and practical issues of class scheduling may also have been relevant.

Intellectual curiosity about the content
The idea of choosing a CLIL class because of the content came up repeatedly in the interviews. Participants reported that curiosity about the content was important to them. Miho, for instance, reported that the class topic of one of her chosen elective classes appealed to her. “I was really interested in the contents of the class and Food Security.” Mika also reported an interest in the class topic but was more specific. She was excited about the idea of studying a particular writer in the original English.

Actually I have an interest in (teacher’s) class topic so I took the first class but then the class was (too easy). So then I took another teacher’s class and I saw the topic was [Jared] Diamond. Diamond in English? Wow! I also like History so then I took that class.

Speaking of another CLIL elective class, Megumi was also attracted by the specific text, “I wanted to read Anne Frank’s diary in English.”

Participants also reported that their previous experiences with similar or connected content drove their decision making. Yoshiaki referred to his experience in a first-year class contributing to his decision to join a particular second-year course. “We read a lot about Gandhi and that philosophical angle really interested me so I wanted to join the class.” Of course, previous experiences with the content were not necessarily limited to in-class experiences. Yoichi explained that he joined a particular class because he had already read another book (in Japanese translation) by the author of the main class text. “I was interested in the course because I knew about [Jared] Diamond from before. I bought his other book Guns, Germs and Steel.”

And finally, participants noted the connections between the CLIL classes and other L1-taught classes they were taking concurrently. Miho, in explaining her choice of a CLIL class focusing on history, noted that, “This semester, I took the History of Mediterranean Civilization. So it has connections between this class and that class, so I took this class.”

This perception of the value of connection with other learning experiences is consistent with Edsall and Saito (2013), who, in a review of the connection between content and motivation, find that relevance is key. They conclude that “While teacher enthusiasm for a subject can be highly motivational, establishing relevance to a students’ chosen degree subject and future career are important in improving student motivation” (p. 85).

However, it should be noted that this focus on the content of the class was not a deciding factor for all participants. In the following excerpt, Akemi explains that she was interested in the class topic but would not have taken the class if it were taught in her L1.

I was interested in the class theme, Intercultural Communication so I wanted to learn about it. But I think learning in English makes me concentrate on the topic so if Japanese teachers taught that, it’s boring. I won’t take that class.

Yasuko expressed similar reasoning in her choice of a CLIL class. In this excerpt, her answers to the interviewer’s questions indicated that she was actually not interested in the class topic.

Q. Thinking of the class you are doing now, Collapse, I’m going to ask you to imagine you were doing this class all in Japanese. What do you think would be different for you?

A. Ummm. Honestly speaking, I will not take it. Because if I take this class in Japanese, it means I am interested in Collapse very much. In other, ordinary Japanese class, I take it because I am interested in it very much. But I am not interested in Collapse so much. Sorry, I will not take this class.

Q. So, can I say you took this class because it’s in English and because it’s hard? Not because of the topic?

A. Yes. Exactly

So, for some of the participants, the content was a less important factor that the perceived challenge of the CLIL class, as discussed further below.

Perceived benefits of CLIL
As discussed above, participants had experienced both soft and hard CLIL classes as part of the required English program. As such, they seemed to have a sense of the potential benefits of CLIL, both in terms of language and content learning. In terms of benefits for their language learning, participants seemed to focus on notions of authenticity and appreciate that CLIL could give them an opportunity for real language use in a way that general English classes could not. Miho reported that CLIL helped make her language skills somehow more real.

Lots of stuff I know about from grammar books but taking this class I saw how they are actually used. I feel like my English skills are becoming more real. I think my English improved more in this kind of class than by studying English.

In a similar vein, Yoichi and Yoshiaki both focused on the idea of using English or being active in English.

Up to now English classes were only about English, about grammar or speaking. But by using English I can learn the content and I think the class using English is really effective for me. (Yoichi)

When I first heard about this kind of class, I thought it would activate my English. Taking in real content in English really means something. (Yoshiaki)

Reiko, on the other hand, was interested in both the integrated and active aspects of language learning in CLIL classes. “Through the (CLIL class), every skill is included, reading, writing and listening and also speaking and using English. It’s all included. Maybe I am becoming better.” She continued by saying that she recommends this class to new first year students. “I could get every skill of English. And compared with other classes, in this class we should use more English so it may be helpful to get skills. “

This sense of CLIL classes as being somehow more real or more effective for language learning than skills based EFL classes is consistent with Pinner’s (2013b) finding that authenticity was a major component of students’ satisfaction with a university CLIL program in Japan.

In terms of specific language skills, participants reported that speaking and reading seemed to improve the most through their experience in CLIL. Akemi said that “Speaking and Reading. They both improved. They are good for me in this class.”

Students also seemed to feel that studying content through their L2 would give them a different perspective on the topics and enhance or support their learning. Miho, for example, discussed this in terms of L1 and L2-taught classes giving her different perspectives on a topic. “Learning something in English makes me think about it differently than when I learn about it in Japanese. The connections between the two ways of thinking are really important.” The participants also seemed to be aware of the dual-focus of CLIL classes. Akemi for example noted that both her language skills and content knowledge improved. “I learned both English and Intercultural Communication.”

Of course, students were not entirely positive about the role of CLIL in their studies. They had a realistic understanding of both pros and cons of the approach. Yasuko in particular was concerned with the potential for language issues to interfere with content learning.

I think there are merits and demerits [of CLIL classes]. Merits are, I can get many times to learn English, to touch English. But the demerit is, for example, Microeconomics in English. Taking this class means learning something new in English. And learning something new is difficult at first and this is in English so more difficult. So if I can’t understand what you say I can’t understand the Economics. And if they want to work in bank or something economics industry or business it is a disadvantage for them. If they can’t understand, they should study by themselves in Japanese but … Anyway, this is a challenge.

That being said, all participants did say that they would recommend the CLIL classes to other students. Reiko went as far as saying that the CLIL classes should not be elective. “These classes should be required. (Without the CLIL classes), students would come to study English less.”

Sense of challenge
It seems clear that the participants perceived CLIL classes as being more difficult than general English classes. The topics themselves were intellectually challenging, operating in L2 was demanding and the workload associated with the CLIL classes was heavier than in other English classes. This may explain why 2/3 of students in the cohort did not continue with the CLIL classes when they completed the required courses. However, for the students who did choose CLIL, the difficulty was perceived as a challenge leading to a sense of accomplishment and, perhaps prestige or self-satisfaction. One repeated theme arising from the data was the sense that the CLIL classes were somehow worth doing. As Yoichi explained, “These classes have value.” Yoshiaki and Miho expressed similar opinions.

This is a chance to think about things we don’t normally think about and change the way we think or see things from a different perspective. (Yoshiaki)

Even if your [English] level isn’t so high, you can join the class and maybe find some people who are the same level as you. Or you can see some higher level people and learn from them. Even if it’s hard, it’s worth working through it. (Miho)

There was also a sense that the difficulty, or challenge itself was part of the attraction. As Yasuko reported above, she took the CLIL elective classes, at least in part, because they were hard. She continued saying:

And, like, (teacher’s) class is difficult so it means that the students who will take the class is also – Such students have high level English skills. So if I join the class, I can develop my English skills together. I thought.

In terms of workload, some participants referred to the heavier workload, compared to other English classes, as part of the attraction of the CLIL courses. Akemi described the workload as an opportunity, something that pushes her to meet her potential.

In other classes, we don’t have so many assignments but in other classes we don’t have so many chances to use English too. I thought I have to get many assignments. If I am not given many assignments I don’t do anything.

Megumi expressed a similar sentiment saying, “I want to read many books and articles in English but I don’t alone. I want to read many books to prepare to attend the class.” This sense of being pushed was also a factor for Reiko who said “Of course, taking credits is important but I want to really improve. I should read more and I should prepare for the classes. And the content is more difficult thing, more academic.”

Later in her interview, Reiko expressed a belief that the content of the CLIL class is important in generating the motivation needed to deal with the heavy workload.

I looked at all the classes’ syllabus on line and I thought food security was interesting. Other classes tend to language or culture and actually I am not interested in that kind. If the contents is not interesting, you won’t feel like to attend class or do homework and the skills won’t – and you can’t get skills. The contents are connected to motivation.

Taking CLIL classes, perceived as challenging, also seemed to be a way to differentiate oneself from peers. Miho made a point of differentiating herself from peers who seek out easy classes.

Some of my friends choose classes that are easy to pass but I think that’s the wrong way of thinking. We shouldn’t just take ‘easy A’ classes. We need to challenge ourselves and stretch our abilities.

And Yoshiaki noted that he chose classes based on interest, though he acknowledged the perception of difficulty among his peers.

My thinking is a little different than some students. Some of my friends say things like ‘wow’ or ‘you are taking really tough classes’ but I don’t think about it that way. I just take classes I am interested in.

Mika also discussed CLIL classes as a way to differentiate herself and her academic choices from her peers. “Choosing an easy class just to get a good grade? It’s just a waste of time. But if someone wants to play a lot, I won’t recommend (CLIL Classes). “

This sense of the challenge of CLIL differentiating oneself from one’s peers seems to be consistent with findings from other contexts. Bozdoğan and Karlıdağ (2013), for example, described Turkish students in a CLIL program saying, “They describe a feeling of success and confidence when they compare themselves to other students. … In addition, they consider fully understanding the course content as a sign of success and accomplishment” (p. 98).

Other factors
Along with content, benefits and challenge, several other factors emerged from the data; however, these were not seen to be related to the fact that the classes were CLIL-oriented. For one, participants reported that their relationship with the teacher, or the teacher’s reputation, was an important factor in their decision making. Megumi said that she chose a CLIL class in part because of the teacher’s classroom practice, “I really like (teacher)’s class style. It suits me.” Yoichi also mentioned experience with a teacher as a factor, “(Teacher) taught some of my first year classes. So I got curious about how they would teach in these (CLIL) classes.” Reiko also mentioned experience with the teacher as a factor saying, “I believe in (teacher). I learned from him in first year so his class level is very suitable for me.”

In some cases, the participants seemed to be choosing a given elective class in order to avoid a teacher with whom they had had a negative experience. Yoshiaki explained that he made the choice to join one class to avoid a teacher that he found to be too nice.

I didn’t like (teacher)’s class. To be frank, it was too easy and they are too nice to us. They give points for trying hard even when we don’t do well. I don’t think I learned anything. So I choose a different class this time.

Direct experience with the teacher was not the only factor. The teacher’s reputation was also influential. Yasuko reported that she chose a CLIL elective class with a teacher she did not know personally.

The most important reason for me to choose that class was that I thought I can develop my English skills. In my image, (teacher) is the most umm, Sorry. Last year, (teacher’s) Core English class was the highest level class right? So the class was so difficult, in my image. So if I took (the teacher’s) class, I could develop my English skill more and more.

This focus on the relationship with the teacher, or their reputation, is commonly seen in Japan and is a major factor in student decision making in most fields, not only CLIL or language classes (Lee-Cunin, 2005).

Another factor, which may be important in explaining the low take up of elective CLIL classes, is the timetable. Several students reported that the CLIL elective classes were offered at inconvenient times, many in the first period of the morning. This seemed to influence some students’ decision to not take those classes.

Interestingly, some factors that are commonly seen to be important in student decision making in Japan were not seen as major factors in this study. Lee-Cunin (2005) reports that the voice of peers and older students is often influential in choosing classes. This can be seen in Mika’s comments about listening to older students’ voices. “I talked to friends and (older students) about classes many time. ‘How was the class?’ ‘How was the teacher?’ I got good advice.” Akemi expressed a similar idea.

Sometimes I talked to my friends about what classes I am going to take. And before we choose classes we often talk about it and if I want to take class, before the class starts I always ask the friends how the teacher is.

However, for other participants in this study, as seen above, students made a point of distancing themselves from their peers’ choices. In fact, when specifically asked in interviews about what classes their friends or classmates chose, many participants reported that they went out of their way not to be influenced by those voices, as illustrated by this excerpt from an interview with Miho.

I heard a lot from older students – like what happens in class, what kind of homework there is. I hear that this teacher is hard or that teacher is easy. But I thought on my own which teacher’s class I want to take and that’s where I went.

Lee-Cunin also says that students in Japan often choose a class almost by default: they need to be in some class and they fall into one. In this kind of compliance-based decision making, students are not really choosing classes: rather they are simply meeting requirements for graduation. This kind of class choice was not seen in the current study. While the CLIL classes did fulfill requirements for language credits, they were perhaps not seen as an appropriate default choice by students.

This study has some fairly clear implications for practice for language teachers implementing CLIL classes as electives in a language-learning program. In particular, there are implications for teachers hoping to create CLIL classes which will be meaningful and motivational for students. Firstly, since students are choosing to join CLIL courses based largely on their intellectual interest in the content, it seems that teachers should be as clear as possible in their syllabus design so that students can see, before they choose the class, exactly what the contents will be. This is also an opportunity for teachers to explain the benefits of the dual focus of CLIL, another factor which seems to attract students to CLIL options.

In addition, since connections to other classes are an important factor in the students’ decision making, the choice of content for a CLIL class seems to be a key consideration. Teachers may want to implement classes that are connected to others their students are studying. Aligning CLIL classes with the students’ major or field of studies seems appropriate as it allows students to find connections between what they study in CLIL course and what they study in other courses. In some contexts, the decision about course content will be made for teachers by administrators or other policy makers. However, in a Japanese university context, a strong tradition of faculty autonomy (Poole, 2010) means that the decision to take on CLIL and the choice of contents will likely be up to individual teachers in many cases. This is particularly true if CLIL is being implemented by language teachers as part of the language-learning program. Therefore, teachers wishing to implement CLIL should have knowledge of content courses offered in the home language of the institution to students in a particular faculty.

A final implication may be related to the finding that students are attracted to CLIL because of, rather than in spite of, its difficulty – they appreciate the challenge of CLIL and see it as a way to distinguish themselves from peers. Teachers hoping to attract students to CLIL classes may want to capitalize on this. Rather than emphasizing the fun aspects of class, as is common in language programs in Japan (Seargeant, 2009), teachers may want to play up the challenge and serious nature of CLIL.

Limitations of the research
This study is based on data generated in interviews with self-selected volunteer participants and, as such, the findings may be influenced by the participants’ English proficiency level. At the university where this study was conducted, students are divided into higher and lower English proficiency groups, with the cut off being approximately 470 points on the TOEFL (pbt) on entry into the university. This proficiency grouping does not limit the students’ choice of elective classes; it is simply an administrative grouping. Students from both the higher and lower proficiency groups chose CLIL elective classes and all were invited to participate in the research project. However, by coincidence, all of the participants in this study were in the higher proficiency group. This may have been due to lack of familiarity with the researcher among the lower-proficiency group. In the participant’s first year at the university, the researcher taught classes only for the higher-proficiency group, and thus, lower-proficiency students may have been uncomfortable participating in interviews with an unfamiliar faculty member.

This slant towards higher proficiency may have an impact on the results. In a related study by colleagues (Adamson & Coulson, 2014), the entire cohort of 180 students from which this study’s participants were drawn, was surveyed about their experiences in one of the soft CLIL required classes in their first year. The results showed some interesting differences. Higher proficiency students were much more likely to see the dual purpose of CLIL classes. They reported perceiving the CLIL classes as being about both language and content. Lower proficiency students were much more likely to see the CLIL class as either a language class or a content class, but not both. In addition, higher proficiency students focused on the benefits of CLIL and seemed to appreciate the challenge while lower proficiency students focused on the difficulty and seemed confused or unclear about the goals of the class. These findings are consistent with Nobuyoshi (2014) who, in an unrelated study of CLIL and motivation among Japanese undergraduate students, found that higher language-proficiency is associated with the perception that CLIL is worthwhile and an appreciation of the dual nature of CLIL. It seems clear that these level differences may have an influence on both students’ actual decision making and on how they respond to interview questions about it. It is hoped that continuing data collection with future cohorts can correct this deficiency.

CLIL programs are implemented at universities for a variety of reasons. Institutional-level choice appears to be influenced by the pragmatic need for student recruitment and questions of prestige. Teachers make their choice to adopt CLIL on a pedagogical basis and with a pragmatic concern for the potential future benefits to students. Students appear to choose to be a part of a CLIL program based on their interest in the contents, their perceptions of pedagogic benefits and a personal sense of challenge. For a teacher involved in CLIL, understanding these three inter-connected levels of motivation can inform successful decision making about the implementation of CLIL classes.

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About the Author
Howard Brown blogHoward Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Studies and Regional Development at the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan. He is involved in both EAP and CLIL teaching. His research interests include English-medium instruction and faculty development.

A Systematic Review of English Medium Instruction (EMI) and Implications for the South Korean Higher Education Context

by Dylan Glyn Williams
Seoul National University, South Korea

This review focuses on the recent global trend of implementing English Medium Instruction (EMI) in non-English language higher education contexts. The aim is to arrive at a comprehensive view of published research focused on this global trend and to draw out the implications for international findings on EMI in the South Korean higher education context. A two-stage systematic literature review is used to explore the published EMI research. The first stage involves a quantitative content analysis, which establishes themes in the published research. The second stage involves an in-depth exploration of three specific areas, which are identified to be significant for successful EMI in the South Korean context (Byun, Chu, Kim, M., Park, Kim, S., & Jung, 2011). These include: a) the students’ and the lecturers’ language proficiencies, b) the varying demands of different academic situations, and c) EMI support. The review identifies how current policy makers’ handling of these areas has resulted in both challenges and opportunities for students and instructors engaged in EMI. However, the review indicates that current EMI implementation produces more challenges than opportunities to both parties and that this may be a by-product of a rapid implementation of the policy and a lack of adequate support for students’ and instructors’ linguistic academic needs. The conclusion discusses the wider implications that the EMI trend may have for students’ future English second language and academic content knowledge acquisition and offers guidelines which may strengthen future implementation of EMI in international higher education contexts.

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Through the implementation of English Medium Instruction (EMI) policy in second language (L2) higher education contexts students are competing both academically and linguistically. Since the start of the new millennium, this implementation has been a global trend, which is increasing. This paper reports on a research project funded by the Faculty of Liberal Education at Seoul National University, which aims to systematically review the global research and policy literature on EMI in the L2 higher education context. More specificallythe aim is to research this global trend in terms of the impact it has on the South Korean context.

As an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) instructor at the Seoul National University (SNU), I observe the students struggling with aspects of EMI, which has motivated me to research these observations further in the EMI literature. SNU employs EMI on certain courses. It currently offers 11% of all degree courses in English (Lee, 2012). The University supports this learning through EAP courses. It is my hope that this research will broaden our awareness of challenges and opportunities that students experience in their EMI courses. This awareness may provide the foundation for a framework to strengthen the implementation for future EMI courses internationally.

The Background to EMI as a Global Trend
English is the global language of education and research. Thus, as universities are becoming international institutions, EMI in higher education is becoming more common all over the world (see Altbach, 2005, 2007; Altbach, Reisberg, & Rumbley, 2009; Mok, 2007). Within this internationalization process, universities have become marketable and corporate entities (Piller & Cho, 2013). Slaughter and Leslie (2001) refer to this phenomenon as “academic capitalism” (p.154).

Since the turn of the millennium, this internationalization has been a common trend in countries that have a Confucian heritage culture. With regards to the higher education context, in China in 2001 the Ministry of Education began encouraging higher education establishments to use EMI in a range of majors including IT, finance, biotechnology, law, economics and foreign trade (Kam, 2006). In Japan, with the aim of having 300,000 international students by 2020, the government established a project called “Global 30” in 2008. The 13 universities involved in this project have expanded courses to offer degrees only through the medium of English (Kimura, n.d.). In Singapore, English is the sole medium of instruction in universities (Altbach, 2005).

In addition to SNU, other South Korean universities have responded to internationalization by adopting EMI. Since 2006, Korea University has offered over 30% of taught courses in English (Byun et al., 2013). Since 2007, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has implemented a policy to teach all freshman courses in the English medium (Park, J.S.Y., 2009). In 2010, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) conducted 93% of all lectures in English, and at this time English lecture rates averaged 30% at the top ten universities in Korea (Piller & Cho, 2013).

Two newspapers rank Korean universities nationally: Joongang Ilbo (modeled on the U.S. News and World Report college rankings) and Chosun Ilbo (modeled on the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings). Piller and Cho (2013) describe the trend of implementing EMI in Korea as a “relentless pursuit” (p.34). They posit that university ranking is responsible for this as it is used as a “measurement of internationalization” (p.36). According to the authors, this internationalization criterion is calculated by the number of foreign faculty employed, the number of international and exchange students, and the number of lectures being conducted in English. They further state that improving rank based on research and publication is a slow process; however, the internationalization components can be altered quickly. Accordingly, this is how EMI implementation is being ‘relentlessly pursued’ in Korea.

Byun et al. (2011) conducted research at Korea University, using mixed methods (surveys and interviews), and presented findings relevant to EMI in Korean higher education. They concluded that if EMI implementation is to be a success then three areas need to be addressed: 1) the students’ and the instructors’ language proficiencies (see also Kang & Park, 2004), 2) the varying demands of different academic subjects (see also Sert, 2008), and 3) a facilitative body which can support this implementation (see also Mellion, 2008). They state that without consideration of the above, the implementation of EMI can have negative side effects (see also Park, J.K., 2009).

It seems to me that with rapid implementation of the policy, these negative side effects can also present themselves as challenges to the students. Nevertheless, if the areas are addressed, we cannot rule out the opportunities that EMI presents. Accordingly, the review aimed to investigate the following hypotheses:

  1. The implementation of EMI in L2 higher education presents challenges to students.
  2. The implementation of EMI in L2 higher education presents opportunities for students.

Research Methodology
The methodology section is composed of two sub-sections. The first provides a cursory overview of themes emerging from the literature. The second explores in more detail how the three areas for EMI implementation success outlined above in Byun et al.’s (2011) research have been addressed globally up until now.

The First Stage of Analysis
A purposive sampling approach (Riffe, Lacy & Fico, 2005) was used to locate sources for content analysis. I needed to find sources which met certain criteria; that is, they had to be from an international publication, they had to refer to EMI implementation[1], they had refer to research from either English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) higher education context, and they had to be published post 2000 (as from this period internationalization was becoming a phenomenon). Having outlined these criteria, sources were located by exploring databases of international peer reviewed journals.

Some articles may have been overlooked through employing these criteria. Nevertheless, this purposive sampling approach gave a systematic framework to my review. To maintain this framework, only articles / book chapters which were identified through the databases were included as opposed to ones that were referred to through the contents of another book chapter, or article. The database also included papers from some international conferences, and these made up a small portion of the total sources.

Through the purposive sampling approach, a total of 132 sources were identified which matched the criteria. This amount of sources was too much to handle for the small scale of this research. Hence, based on recommendations by other researchers (Holsti, 1969; Krippendorff, 2012), I decided to analyze a sample of each source to arrive at an overview of themes emerging from the data. With journal articles and book chapters as sources, abstracts and chapter introductions were used as samples, respectively. By accessing the sources through the databases, Hangeul (Korean-written) articles / book chapters were not accessed as they were not intended for an international audience.

table1_edit Table 1: A tabulation of the relevant lexical items which were selected following the use of the lextutor software in the first stage of analysis[2]

The condensed sources were placed into lextutor[3], which systematically calculated word frequencies that were then extracted if they connected to the research hypothesis. Words which connected to challenges or opportunities and which had an individual tally of over five were the criteria for the extractions. This tally allowed for multiple mentions to be grouped as an emerging theme.

The Second Stage of Analysis
Althaus, Edy and Phalen (2002) state that an aggregation of a large sample of abstracts can disclose significant factors relating to the subject matter being researched. However, they caution that they can also be “imprecise representations” (p.488; see also Holsti, 1969) of the fuller bodies. Thus, the condensed samples might misrepresent the fuller text in the main bodies of the sources. Nevertheless, the lexical corpus driven analysis functioned as a heuristic in attuning me to the general themes emerging from the literature. As seen in table 1, the analysis highlighted positive themes (a third of the total count) and negative themes (two thirds of the total count) to describe EMI implementation. It was clear from this stage that there are ‘problems’ and ‘advantages’ etc. with implementation. Apart from this, the first stage to analysis did not reveal much more. As a result, in the second stage of analysis an examination of what caused these ‘problems’ and ‘advantages’ was required.

In the section on EMI as a global trend, it is stated that Byun et al. (2011) identify three areas which require attention for EMI to be a success. These are: 1) the students’ and the instructors’ language proficiencies; 2) the varying demands of different academic subjects; and 3) a facilitative body which can support EMI implementation. In the second stage of analysis, I manually reviewed the sources in full with these three areas in mind to see how they related to the themes which emerged from the first stage of analysis. A manual systematic approach to analysis was selected to increase intimacy with the data (see Bergin, 2011). This second stage involved a much closer read of the sources by individually examining the opportunities and challenges discussed in each area. The findings relating to each area were then organized into three tables (see Results below), which summarize the challenges and/or opportunities presented in each source.

At the beginning of this paper the following were outlined as my hypotheses:

  1. The implementation of EMI in L2 higher education presents challenges to students.
  2. The implementation of EMI in L2 higher education presents opportunities for students.

This section presents three tables summarizing the challenges and the opportunities identified in in the review. Each table presents one of the three areas for EMI success outlined by Byun et al. (2001) and is followed by a discussion of substantive findings. I begin by summarizing the results based upon the students’ and the instructors’ language proficiencies.

Review Findings Regarding the Students’ and the Instructors’ Language Proficiencies
There is a recurring theme in table 2 regarding the instructors’ level of English. This seems to be a global problem in EFL and ESL contexts and it is talked about as a challenge. This implies that globally the majority of instructors feel pressured in having to teach EMI. Moreover, they lack the proficiency to do so. When the focus is on teaching academic content knowledge in English, this lack of instructor proficiency needs to be addressed. This review indicates that it has not been given as much attention as required up until now. As seen, this lack of proficiency has negative consequences: lack of student satisfaction (Mellion, 2008), lack of comprehension (Chang, 2010), and reliance on the L1 (Kim, 2011). However, as the ‘rapid implementation’ of EMI continues, it is encouraging to see that younger instructors are more prepared for the demands of the policy (see Jensen & Thøgersen, 2011). A reason given for this is that using more English in Denmark is seen as a new phenomenon, and thus, the younger generation are more prepared for it in terms of proficiency.

 table2Table 2: A summary of discoveries from the systematic literature review concerning proficiency

In table 2, through the opportunities, we see that EMI does have an educational value. However, I question the value of the policy. For instance, in the case of Vietnam, it seems that policy makers are ‘jumping on the internationalization bandwagon’, as through current implementation practices it is difficult for one to see how valuable EMI will be for students’ academic success. According to Manh (2012), Vietnam is currently partaking in the National Education system 2008-2020 project, and by 2015 the project intends to begin EMI courses for 20% of university students in some disciplines. The aim is for all higher education institutes to adopt EMI courses by 2020. However, the author notes that both students and instructors in Vietnam have low English proficiency, as seen in table 2. More to the point, these factors do not seem to be supported. This seems to imply that as in many other cases of rapid implementation, institutional needs take precedent over the students’ needs.

To understand the needs of students and faculty, Kim (2011) surveyed and interviewed students and professors from various universities around Seoul. It was discovered that the majority of professors and students favored using L1 as a means of explaining complex material. In other words, the professor’s English proficiency was a vital consideration to clearly explain the material in EMI classes. Moreover, the majority of students were against EMI classes as the policy hampered the depth of acquisition which they could achieve in their L1. The author suggests that to increase students’ proficiency more L2 input is required from the professors, which leans towards Krashen’s i+1 hypothesis.

In research conducted in Indonesian Universities, Krashen’s hypothesis was also advanced by Ibrahim (2001). He believes that through EMI courses students are more exposed to English (comprehensible input), and thus, have a greater chance to use it (comprehensible output). However, the author states that this does not mean that EMI classes will improve the four skills as they are not language focused classes. Ibrahim labels the lack of English proficiency among students and instructors in Indonesia as a “threat” (p.125) to EMI. This is because instructors with this lack of skill will produce poor lectures, which based on i+1 will correspondingly hamper the students’ development. With a lack of adequate proficiency, instructors would not be able to establish rapport with the students, by comprehension checks, discussion prompts etc. Similarly, students would suffer academically and socially as poor proficiency would deter them from asking questions and developing bonds with their instructors and classmates. Additionally, I find it hard to envisage how a concept such as i+1 can be applied to the instructor / student dynamic in EMI situations when there seems to be a plethora of cases where a lack of instructors’ proficiency is also an issue. In summary, when I reflect on this area of EMI, I agree with Ibrahim’s position that a lack of English proficiency can be labeled as a ‘threat’ to the value of the policy.

Review Findings Relating to Academic EMI Situations

Even though Byun et al. (2011) refer to the varying demands of different academic subjects being a criterion for EMI success, I feel that labeling this section as subject demands would have made my review one-sided. Instead, I focused upon an overview of academic situations as presented in the literature. To be more specific, I focus upon the challenges and opportunities presented in each academic situation followed by an evaluation of the demands involved.

The results which are presented in table 3 fall into specific categories. Opportunities are discussed as being driven by the content quality of classes irrespective of the language in which it is taught (see Airey & Linder, 2006; Joe & Lee, 2012; Mok, 2007). Additionally, opportunities seem to come through partial integrations of EMI policies (see Karabinar, 2008; Kim, 2011; Joe & Lee,2012; Tamtan, Gallagher, Olabi & Naher, 2012). In contrast, a lack of coping skills to be successful within EMI emerges as a dominant challenge (see Airey & Linder, 2006; Somer, 2001; Sert, 2008, Karabinar, 2008; Chang, 2010; Kim, 2011; Joe & Lee, 2012; Kim & Sohn, 2009; Tamtan et al., 2012). What follows is a fuller exploration of how these themes are presented in the review.


Table 3: A summary of discoveries from the systematic literature review concerning the varying opportunities and challenges of different academic situations

From the summary of academic EMI situations presented in table 3 there seems to be a more even balance between opportunities and challenges being reported upon in the review (opportunities are reported upon in 11 sources, and challenges in 13 sources). It is clear from table 3 that EMI policy is demanding on both students and instructors. For instance, Airey and Linder (2006), noted the coping strategies that undergraduate physics students have to adopt in Sweden in order to deal with the content of the lectures. They found that when English was used, the asking and answering of questions by the students was limited. The students also struggled to follow lectures and take notes. Furthermore, Sert (2008) presents one of the most challenging aspects of the policy existing in the higher education context, and this concerns the negative influence it has on students’ critical thinking ability. Similarly, it was noted in Turkey that EMI was ineffective in providing academic development as students faced difficulties in understanding the content of the materials. Even though Joe and Lee (2012) note that in EMI, academic ability takes precedent over English, Sert (2008) implies that this focus is also ineffective if the academic focus is in English. From this finding, it seems that students need more opportunities to develop critical thinking ability in English.

Another concern emerging from this review, regarding this second area, relates to EMI in technical disciplines. Due to English being the language of science and technology (Zare-ee & Gholami, 2013), EMI seems to have been adopted at a faster pace by these disciplines (Kim & Sohn, 2009). However, as Chang (2010) notes, students from these fields have more difficulties in comprehending lectures than students in other non-technical fields. A limited vocabulary and a slow reading speed were identified as being the causes of this difficulty. This issue needs to be addressed by future policy makers; perhaps course specific support is the answer to this.

Both positive and negative comments have been made on the use of the first language on EMI courses (e.g. see Karabinar, 2008; Kim, 2011; Joe & Lee, 2012; Kim & Sohn, 2009; Somer, 2001). Evidently, different contexts have different needs for L1 use as well as different views on its need as a learning tool. One of the research questions explored by Kim (2011) was: “Can efficacy of EMI classes change depending on different levels of English and subjects?” (p.711). The author found that current EMI policy “leads unilateral and uniform education” (p.737) and thus does not give consideration to students’ range of abilities, or the demands of specific courses. Kim makes a distinction between EOI (English-Only Instruction) and EMI. In this distinction Kim advances L1 as a learning tool in EMI classes but with guidelines for usage. This places responsibility on the professors to adjust the course material according to the students’ English ability, which implies that EMI classes need to be carefully prepared. However, according to Kim, this does not get taken into consideration with the trend of rapid EMI implementation as the focus is on improving university ranking rather than the students’ specific needs on their EMI major courses.

As students and instructors face varying demands in their academic subjects, the type of EMI put into practice needs to be considered. Tamtan et al. (2012), conducted a comparative study of the literature on the implementation of EMI in higher education in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The aim of the study was to moot options regarding the implementation of EMI in engineering programs in Libya. It was found that commonalities shared by the 3 continents were that EMI increases motivation to study English, due to its international significance and career opportunities. Additionally, it gives students more exposure to English, which advances second language acquisition. It also encourages the transference of skills learned while learning the first language, which can be applied while studying the second language (see also Ibrahim, 2001). However, the 3 continents also share disadvantages: the lack of proficient teaching staff fail to develop both linguistic and academic content, and students encounter many difficulties relating to insufficient language knowledge, which may result in a lack of interest. The policy also threatens cultural identity as “it helps to convert the world into a ‘global village’, where people might forget their roots and culture” (Tamtan et al., p.1423). However, the authors suggest that a way in which these problems can be overcome is by questioning which type of EMI needs to be implemented, and with this they offer the choices between full and partial implementation. The indication of their research is that partial immersion seems to be favored. However, it would seem from above this has not been the case in Korea. Additionally, in Korea, Kim and Sohn (2009) and Kim et al. (2009), found that student satisfaction can be increased by offering the whole class in English. The reason being is that offering Korean supplementary material deters the students’ English development.

What is clear from above is that different courses have different demands. Perhaps the specific demands can be negotiated between policy makers and instructors at the outset of implementation. Alternatively, it could be negotiated between instructors and students, when they assess their L2 proficiencies at the beginning of the term. This implies that for EMI to be a success instructors and students need to have ‘a voice’ in what they teach and learn. Nevertheless, this would be a problem for international students on the course, who might not be proficient in the L1, should the enactment of partial EMI occur.

It is encouraging to see from the summary in table 3 that we see more evidence of the value of EMI emerging from the review. For instance, Zare-ee and Gholami (2013), found that it was valued by professors in Iran as it increased the potential of sharing international research. Tamtan et al. (2012) found that globally students valued the policy as it increased their motivation to study English as it gave them better career opportunities. In Flanders (Belgium), van Splunder (2010) found that students had a positive attitude to the policy after experiencing it. Perhaps we should question why EMI has been a success in some contexts but not in others. We have evidenced until now that students’ and instructors’ proficiency and the varying demands of academic subjects can effect this. However, what might also shape the success of the policy is the appropriateness of the methodology, for, as Mok (2007) states, students and professors should take responsibility for this to meet their specific needs. This also returns to the question regarding full or partial implementation which also plays a part in shaping the value of EMI policy.

Review Findings Relating to EMI Support
In viewing the results of the literature review heuristically, clearly EMI support is needed for the policy to be a success as there are issues with students’ and instructors’ proficiencies and the varying demands of different academic subjects.

table4_1 table4_2Table 4: A summary of discoveries from the systematic literature review concerning support

The summary presented in table 4 outlines that EMI support is being overlooked by policy makers. This lack seems to stem from inadequate funding. Byun et al. (2011) found that to meet the demands of EMI students or instructors who lack adequate English proficiency have been given little assistance. Their research revealed that even The Center for Teaching and Learning at Korea University lacked adequate support for the EMI courses which were being taught. The reason given for this was due to financial constraints, and consequently, the Center was unable to meet the demand of required support. This meant that students who required extra support on their EMI courses had to seek this from private language institutions at their own expense.

Mellion (2008) explored the reasons behind the discontinuation of an English bachelor program in Business Administration at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. The research revealed that a lack of adequate support from the university board was an influence and that funding was attributed to be a reason for the lack of support. The students in this research suggested that if more programs are taught in English at the Master’s level then when they are undergraduate students they should be enrolled in academic writing classes to meet this demand. This is something which the university did not support at the time of this research. A substantive finding of this paper states that if EMI is to be successful, then the required support for its success needs to be included in the curriculum.

Joe and Lee (2012) evidenced the students’ call for a foundation course in general or medical English whereby a scaffolded English lesson would be given relating to the content of the lecture. This would enable the students to merge English with the study skills needed to succeed academically. The authors note that these type of supportive courses are prevalent on ESL courses, but are lacking on EFL courses, which is a concern. They further state that this needs to change as EFL students need more support than ESL students because they have less contact with English and fewer English resources when out of the classroom environment.

The general consensus in the review is that support for EMI needs to be EAP focused, thus focusing on the students’ academic abilities, rather than on their English language skills. Kirkgöz (2009) even found problems with an EAP focused curriculum and suggests that an inquiry based learning approach would be more appropriate as it encompasses a “discourse-community driven philosophy” (p.92). This is seconded by a student in Ball and Lindsay’s (2013) findings who stated that “You understand it better when you’re actually doing it yourself” (p.51). The literature also discusses positive supportive opportunities which could contribute to EMI success (see Ibrahim, 2011; Joe & Lee, 2012; Kirkgöz, 2009). Nevertheless, it is important to note that these are suggestions rather than what has emerged from current practice.

From table 4, it can be seen that faculty support is mentioned positively in some cases. For instance, Klaassen and DeGraaff (2007) mention that the faculty have opportunities to discuss anxiety and identify weaknesses. However, it is important to note that this kind of supportive discussion would not be applicable to all cultures. For instance, in some cultures discussing weaknesses could be a weakness within itself. Ball and Lindsay (2013) describe a rigorous framework of support available to the faculty in a Spanish University, which as ‘an ideal’, all institutions should actualize. However, with such ‘an ideal’ support framework in place, it is questionable why Doiz et al. (2012) report upon the same support in such a negative light. Perhaps this is an indication that faculty support for EMI needs much careful planning and consideration by responding to specific needs, rather than enacting support for support’s sake. This review did not give any indication of how faculty support occurs in Asia which suggests that it is lacking in this continent.

A Holistic Perspective
The challenges emerging from EMI implementation presented in the literature review can be summarized as two main conflicting forces which are a lack of language proficiency and academic achievement due to a lack of support and a fixated pursuit of the policy with a lack of due diligence to students’ specific needs, or to quote Nunan (2003) “a disjunction between curriculum rhetoric and pedagogical reality” (p.589). These two conflicting forces seem to support Piller and Cho’s (2013) “relentless pursuit” argument. Reinforcing this point, it has been evidenced in this review that speed seems to be of the essence in implementing EMI policy as universities chase world ranking status.

Implementing with speed might have great benefits for the institutions, yet this systematic literature review indicates that this is not the same for the students. One case where EMI has been a success is in Maastricht University (Wilkinson, 2013[4]). A reason attributed to Maastricht’s success is because their EMI policy was accomplished with gradual implementation which took almost two decades. Taking time with EMI implementation was also discussed more generally in the literature. Evans and Morrison (2011) found that time was integral in enabling students to overcome their challenges. Moreover, Lasagabaster (2008) attributed the success of the EMI policy in the Basque Country to be early foreign language intervention, which again regards time as being a factor of success. It seems to me that when student proficiency is a challenge, Ibrahim’s (2001) call for incremental exposure to EMI throughout a student’s university life makes logical sense if the student is to benefit from the value of the policy. From the way policy makers have been ‘rapidly implementing’ EMI up until now, it is questionable whether they have accounted for the time it takes for the real value of EMI to materialize.

Given that the implementation of EMI in the higher education context has been a global trend since the millennium, the investigation into the policy’s success is a current emerging area of research. Accordingly, it seems that a systematic review of the literature in this area is an extended contribution to this emerging field of knowledge. To summarize, I will outline the implications that the findings from the literature has for the South Korean context.

As noted in the section on EMI as a global trend, university ranking is used as a “measurement of internationalization” (Piller & Cho, 2013, p.36), which is why EMI implementation is being relentlessly pursued in Korea. However, this is the time for Korean policy makers to reflect on the success of the current outcomes. Perhaps, South Korean universities have increased their status in the world ranking tables as a result of EMI implementation and the number of programs they offer in English; nevertheless, what can also increase a position in the world ranking tables is the performance of a university’s faculty and students on the international stage (albeit slowly). In this regard, South Korean policy makers need to ensure a firm foundation which provides a solid stage for the faculty and the students on which to perform. This foundation may consist of an evaluation of different EMI subjects taught by different departments at a particular University and an evaluation of the specific support which they require. This could then assist in the development of a program in the University to better support the specific academic needs of the students and faculty and the varying demands of each department’s EMI course. Undertaking this suggested action may provide the foundation for a program which could strengthen implementation for future EMI courses internationally.

The lack of adequate support which is prevalent with the majority of EMI implementation seems to originate from a lack of funding. As Byun et al. (2001) state, EMI is now a prerequisite for universities when they wish to receive financial support from the government. However, perhaps universities need the foresight to anticipate the support that their EMI proposals require prior to requesting this funding. With this kind of pragmatic action, perhaps some of the funding can be allocated for the required support.

The question then remains, with adequate support what else needs to be considered as a criteria for success? The answer to this seems to be the appropriateness of the implementation. The literature has identified that in some cases both partial and full implementation can have different degrees of success in different contexts. Hence, how EMI is to be implemented needs to be decided on a case by case basis. What is clear is that the type of ‘blanket’ unilateral policy which has globally been the current practice of most implementation has been ineffective. Policy makers need to account for the demands that teaching in English has on faculty members. They also need to recognize that students have diverse needs on their particular EMI courses. This is key for the success of the policy. With this awareness, action can be taken to alter current practices. If no remedial action is taken, the current implementation impediments will continue unabated to the detriment of the real educational value of EMI.

I would like to thank Dr. Juup Stelma and Dr. Tan Su Hwi for their feedback on earlier versions of this paper. All remaining errors are my own.

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[1] As well as EMI, CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) was explored in searches. These acronyms were used in various combinations as key word phrases – e.g. ‘EMI higher education’ – ‘CLIL university education’ etc.

[2] While quantifying these lexical items, derivatives of a word were tallied under its root. This was done as the derivatives were contextually referring to the same phenomenon. Also, categorizing them together speeded up the process, and thus made the data easier to handle.

[3] See

[4] This source was not reported upon in the review as it did not report on any of Byun et al.’s (2011) three areas.

About the Author
Dylan Williams blogDylan Glyn Williams teaches EAP in the College English Program in the Faculty of Liberal Education at Seoul National University. He is currently undertaking his doctorate studies with the University of Manchester. His thesis is titled ‘Understanding Students’ English Medium Instruction (EMI) Experiences in South Korean Higher Education’. In addition to his research into EMI, he also conducts research into student autonomy and socio-cultural theory.

Materials Development for a Japanese University CLIL Class

by Peter Cheyne, Kyoto Notre Dame University, Japan
and Edward Rummel, Miyazaki International College, Japan

This paper discusses sequenced materials development for content/language integrated learning (CLIL) in a team-taught Content/English introductory philosophy class at Miyazaki International College (MIC), Japan. A short introduction situates the authors’ particular CLIL approach, one developed for an English as a Second Language (ESL) environment in a Japanese liberal arts college. They then offer a template for a sequence of language exercises that are adaptable to a variety of discipline-specific content texts and lectures of varying degrees of language difficulty. The approach can be used in team-taught or solo-taught courses. The authors also reflect on implementing their materials in an active-learning classroom to enhance the CLIL advantages.

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Figure 1: Teamwork at the boards

Our approach to CLIL
Perhaps educational history could provide examples of forerunners of CLIL, considering that Chinese was the vehicular language of education for centuries in Korea and Japan, Greek was the academic language of the Roman world, and Latin of medieval Europe. Without an in-depth historical survey, we can at least note that the internationally organized practice of academic learning in a language not native to the students is one with a long history. The pedagogy has evolved, and pressing needs in the increasingly globalized classroom have urged considerable adaptation.

This paper shares what the authors have learned regarding materials development for a Japanese CLIL environment. The term CLIL was coined in 1994 by David Marsh, and here it is used to emphasize the integration of content and language in our approach. Marsh clearly highlights this integration in his definition of CLIL as:

a tool in the learning of a non-language subject in which both language and the subject have a joint role. […] It does not give emphasis to either language […] or to content teaching and learning, but sees both as integral parts of the whole. (Marsh, 2002, p. 59)

The content to be learned is usually understood as specific to an academic discipline or subject that is taught in schools and universities.

In our CLIL classes, the approach is ‘content first’, meaning that academic content drives the language vocabulary and structures to be learned. The facts, concepts, ideas, and methods of the content discipline necessarily dictate the vocabulary and grammatical structures being used to communicate them. Language learning is an objective equal in value to the content, and we, too, have found that the ‘content first’ approach to materials-development “safeguard(s) the subject being taught whilst promoting language as a medium for learning as well as [being] an objective of the learning process itself” (Coyle, in Marsh, 2002, p. 37).

The sequenced language activities we currently employ have grown from materials developed by Professor Charles Parish at the Niigata, Japan campus of Southern Illinois University (SIU) 25 years ago. Dr Parish developed his language materials specifically for a group of students who had passed through the school’s intensive English program, but still did not have the required 550 TOEFL score to register for full-time university classes. We have also found that this approach works best with students at that level of proficiency or below. Students at higher proficiency levels simply do not need the high level of vocabulary and grammar reinforcement that these sequenced exercises are designed to provide. We have adapted CLIL to address the particular needs and capacities of our first-year Japanese university students, who must eventually complete a graduation thesis in English in their senior year. Hence a key objective of the course design process discussed in the article is to coach students to produce a series of increasingly challenging discursive essays.

CLIL materials production
In producing CLIL materials, using our sequenced-materials method, the teacher must first define the objectives for the unit. The next step is to produce the three components of the unit’s ‘raw materials’: (1) a detailed outline of the content to be taught; and from that detailed outline, (2) a list of scanning questions; and then (3) the text itself. From these three components, a teacher can create a dozen or more sequenced language exercises and activities. The authors outline fourteen such activities below. These activities also make up the example unit, which is an appendix to the current article.

The outline (see Appendix, 4a) is a skeletal, indented plan of the content to be taught in the unit. This provides the internal structure of the unit, and is a reference for the materials to be developed as exercises and activities. When writing this essential component, it is helpful to write it as notes for a lecture, and this outline is in fact used most straightforwardly in the five-to-ten-minute mini-lectures that are given in most class meetings. Although the mini-lectures include information already covered by other activities such as the cloze or dictogloss exercises, it ensures that the students receive the content information, including any points they might have missed in other exercises, while improving their academic lecture note-taking skills.

The detailed scanning questions are then written in running order from the content outline. These are generally kept as basic WH-questions. These questions are used as (1) the initial listening scan that commences each unit; (2) the note-scan team game for oral questions and answers (these activities are explained below); and (3) homework for comprehension question-and-answer writing.

Then, completing the three essential components of the unit, the text is written, again from the outline. The order of this procedure ensures that (i) all the comprehension questions will be answerable, that (ii) all the content material has been covered without needless repetition, and that (iii) the teacher has an outline of lecture notes to use as the basis for the mini-lectures. The students will use the mini-lectures for note-taking practice, which integrates their listening, writing, and study skills.

In our present term-length courses, three to five CLIL units, or content units, suffice for a fifteen-week semester. For each unit, a text of no more than three pages per unit works best. It is a good idea to base the very first unit on a one-page text. This allows the different activity-types to be introduced, and efficiently demonstrates the sequence of routine exercises to follow in subsequent classes and units during the course. It also allows the students to begin to work on longer writing assignments more quickly, after only a few class meetings. Then the teacher can address early on the initial essay-writing problems that otherwise might not surface until several weeks into the course.

From these three initial components (i.e. the content outline, the scanning questions, and the text) the teacher can then produce sequenced exercises to structure the CLIL units. In what follows, material is developed from the outline, questions, or the text. It is important that the sequence (in this case, activities 1-14) of materials be developed in running order, so that activity 1, the listening scan, use the first paragraph of the text and the first few scanning questions, that activity 2 should use the second and third paragraphs, and so on. We have found the following sequence of activities effective for teaching modular units in our Introduction to Philosophy ESL class. These activities are illustrated in the complete example unit (with explicit instructions), in the Appendix to the current article.

1. Listening scan, using the first few scanning questions (Appendix, 1)
The first paragraph of the text is read to the students. Then the class is asked the scanning questions corresponding to paragraph 1. They are asked not to answer out loud, but just to raise their hands if they think they know the answer. This is done three times, with the number of students raising their hands for each question marked on the board. Invariably, the second and third times see more hands raised than the first. As well as being an effective way to give students confidence in starting a new module, this stage of the process provides students with an experience in knowing what to listen for, so that their listening can become more attuned to what is needed.

2. Listening cloze (Appendix, 2)
The material for this activity is taken from the text and every fifth word is replaced with an underline blank so the students can fill in the missing words. Although this is a fairly passive activity, the tasks progress along a continuum from passive to active, and progressively active skills are encouraged even at this stage. Students must turn over the page while listening, and cannot write their answers until the teacher has finished reading. In this way students need to retain information rather than merely hear it and write it down immediately. Students are also instructed, after the final reading, to read out the cloze paragraphs to each other and to discuss in English what they think the right answers are.

3. Reading cloze (Appendix, 3)
This material is produced in the same fashion as the listening cloze exercises, except that the missing words are now provided in a box below the cloze passage. Because these clozes can be done solo, they are assigned for homework, and are checked in the next class by having students read aloud in small groups and by discussion in English before the teacher verifies the answers.

4. Dictation (Appendix, 6)
The dictation sentences are taken from the next paragraph in the text. The sentences are then numbered and written on separate lines. Long sentences might need to be written here as two sentences. Students hear the text read three times. The first time is read at normal speed, to give the main idea. The second time is dictated one sentence at a time. Students number their paper and write the sentences as they hear them. The entire passage is read a third time for checking.

5. Keyword exercise, a fluency activity (Appendix, 7)
Again, this activity derives from the next paragraph or paragraphs in the text. A keyword exercise is an activity in which grammar inflection (except word order), pronouns and function words such as prepositions have been removed from the sentences. Again, sentences are numbered (or lettered) and written on separate lines. Above that, the same sentences are reduced so that, to refer to the Appendix unit, ‘Nothing is told to us about Sisyphus in the underworld’ becomes ‘Nothing tell us Sisyphus underworld’. Students start reviewing this material for homework by reading through the complete sentences a few times out loud. They then use the reduced keyword sets to help them narrate the story in complete grammatical sentences by supplying the missing grammar inflection, pronouns and function words. Finally, they are tested by completing the exercise in front of a teacher.

6. Dictogloss, reconstructing short passages into paragraphs (Appendix, 8)
This established TEFL activity is a sophisticated development from dictation, and we derive its content from the next paragraph in the unit text. A very short passage (three or four sentences) is read out. This is done twice. The lecturer is not reading sentences (a difference from dictation) but is reconstructing sentences from keywords, so that the passage is not said in exactly the same way the second time. The students are asked to write down not the whole text, but notes on the salient facts of the passage, i.e. a string of key information words. Students then reconstruct the sense and information points as close to exactly as possible, using these notes and their own knowledge of the grammatical structure involved. Finally, they write their answers on the board and have the class as a whole edits for errors.

7. Information-gap mini-lecture note-taking (Appendix, 4a)
The teacher typically uses the unit outline for this activity. While he or she has the lecture notes and reads them aloud, the students’ version has much of the information blanked out. Students are encouraged to ask questions for clarity or repetition any time, and they are shown that this activity gives them the information needed to complete many of the other tasks. As well as taking notes, the students also practice giving the mini-lecture to each other. It should be noted that the mini-lectures are used throughout the unit, and are therefore a feature in most classroom meetings.

8. Note scan (Appendix, 5)
The note scan is another activity that uses the scanning questions (while the others are the listening scan, outlined above, and the written answers to scanning questions, detailed next). This activity is a game involving the whole class arranged into groups of three, and is used to help students review their mini-lecture notes. Student have their mini-lecture notes in front of them and are instructed to scan these notes to find the answers to the questions asked by the teacher. Each student is given a number (ONE to THREE) and only student ONE may answer questions 1, 4, 7, etc., only student TWO may answer questions 2, 5, 8, etc., and so on for student THREE. If, in some groups, student 2, for example, does not know the answer, the other two students can point to the relevant part of the mini-lecture notes. This method ensures that every student has a chance to speak and that all students are scanning their mini-lecture notes.

9. Writing full-sentence answers to scanning questions (Appendix, 5)
Again, this activity is taken from the scanning questions. This time, however, the answers are to be written out of class as homework, and in complete sentences. The task is completed as group-work in the next class. Like the mini-lectures, this activity continues throughout the unit.


Figure 2: Question and answer diagrams

10. Writing question and answer sentences on the whiteboards (Appendix, 5)
In groups at the boards, students diagram the sentence structures for the scanning questions and answers into subject, verb, object/complement, and adverbial/prepositional phrases (see Figure 2, question and answer diagrams). This diagramming facilitates self-correction and reinforces the students’ working knowledge of English grammar. Having students at the boards requires them to stand up and walk around the class, and the authors have found that this allows for more interaction, which is kept in English and adds some fun energy to the classroom.

11. Paragraph outlining (Appendix, 9)
At this point the students are given the text for the first time. They are asked to outline the ideas presented in a paragraph (in the unit given in the Appendix, it is paragraph 9), separating the main ideas subtopics and details using bulleted hanging indention.

12. Reading Outline: Rough outline of complete text (Appendix, 10)
This exercise encourages the students to continue to outline each paragraph in the text. It allows them to think about the organization of paragraphs and of the whole texts, and in this manner is a kind of reverse-engineering activity.

13. Summarizing complete text (Appendix, 11)
From the text outlines that they have recently produced, students now summarize the complete text in one or two paragraphs, using all the material in their outline.

14. Essay test (Appendix, 12)
In the final class of the unit students will be asked to write an in-class essay. While the whole unit has been preparing students for this step, the previous one or two class meetings before the essay test should include instruction and practice regarding producing essay outlines.

The outline is the first of the materials created by the teacher, and it is the master document from which the content of the sequenced activities follows (1-14 above). For example, the listening scan exercise, which introduces students to the basic concepts and terminology of the unit, is generated from the introductory paragraph of the text. It works like a reading scan exercise, but the students only listen to the teacher reading the text aloud before answering oral questions. The listening cloze is composed from the next paragraph, and so on with the other activities.

In addition to these mainstays created directly from the text, other activities are sometimes added, such as role-play, for example acting out Plato’s ‘Prisoners in the Cave’ story. The purpose of such activities, which are adjuncts to the main elements outlined above, is to provide engaging ways for the students to use the language and content recently learned in the kind of group activities that ensure the topic and the language are being assimilated flexibly. By flexible assimilation, we mean that what is being learned is being done in a fluid, active-learning environment, one that ensures not only greater retention but also shows students that what they have learned in the classroom can, with a little imagination, be transferred to many different kinds of situation.

It should be noted that these exercises are only tools; they are not inviolable, and some content-core materials require the exercises to be adapted. The main point here is that the exercises are purposefully sequenced from the beginning of the unit outline to the end. The text itself is not presented to the students until the end. Otherwise, it would be too easy for students to simply copy the text for various answers. Also, if the text were given earlier, answers could simply be lifted from the text, but that would not usually provide the grammar appropriate to the way the question is framed.

This sequence of activities has a pedagogical rationale, progressing from practicing passive skills to active; generally listening before speaking, reading before writing; and from teacher-centered to student-centered activities. This method reflects an understanding of learning a second language as being similar to the way the first was learned: passive skills being developed first, with attention to listening and watching, with the active practice following.

In our approach to CLIL courses, the skills developed throughout the exercises culminate in the students producing an in-class essay. This essay is not only the concrete end-product of the unit, but it also works at making this task a clear focus to the activities. Each piece of content information is given at least three times, in different ways. Firstly, information is learned from activities such as the listening cloze, or the keyword exercise; then, during the mini-lecture note-taking, the information is reinforced; and again, during scanning questions and written homework, students review this information. Moreover, students review this data in a holistic way when they are finally given the text to analyze and break into an outline and summary, when studying in the classes before their essay test. After ‘reverse engineering’ an outline from the text handout, the students are then instructed in producing their own outlines as a basis for responding to possible essay questions that might feasibly be set for the unit. The students’ essay writing is not, therefore, merely an exercise in memory and reproduction, but in using and reorganizing material toward a specific academic purpose.

After each unit, students can compare their latest essay with previous ones, gaining valuable feedback and encouragement. The teachers mark the essays using a correction code to indicate grammatical errors, such as a subject-verb agreement problem, or an incomplete sentence. Unlike grammatical errors, which should be indicated for self-correction (but not corrected by the teacher), content errors, such as matters of fact, can be efficiently corrected at this stage through the teacher’s written comments. Common errors that the students in general make can be addressed after the essays for each unit have been marked, and this step is a particularly effective one for helping students improve their essay performance. Essays are marked according to content, organization, vocabulary (specific to the unit), and language (grammar and communicative performance), equipping the teacher with concrete assessment evidence to indicate how well the course has gone and how each student has progressed.

Classroom management issues and our sequenced CLIL approach
The sequenced materials developed in our CLIL practice means that the dynamic of each unit progresses from passive to active skills development. Implementing this dynamic process requires some fluid changes from activity to activity in the learning scenario. The particular materials and sequence we have developed require the teacher to use various seating arrangements, modes of working (solo, pair-work, small group work, and whole class work), and other active-learning techniques. A corollary to this active-learning CLIL focus is that activities that can be done solo are generally assigned for homework. All classroom time is thus spent advancing through the modular material in groups checking, discussing, and deciding in English.

One practical technique in classroom management that has proved very useful in our CLIL teaching experience is to group students in threes. Because of the nature of the materials and activities, students need to participate actively, but it is hard to manage a student-centered, active class of up to thirty. As a result, with groups of three, the teacher can deal with ten groups, rather than thirty individuals. This allows even large classes to have a small group dynamic, as groups of three work together as teams.

This grouping also relieves the burden of the ‘spotlight’. Especially in Japan, even when quite a few students know the answer, to be the one who answers the questions is not done. In such a situation, it is hard to get a response when the teacher asks the whole class a question. However, that reticence transforms into a positive way when groups of three are addressed. This way, no individual is addressed, and the motive to work for the group encourages students to take turns answering the questions. The whole experience becomes more communal, with the focus on turn-taking, making the activity a lot more fun for all involved.


Figure 3: Mini-lecture

Advantages for learning with CLIL
A CLIL approach recommends itself to language learning in an academic setting because it addresses several aims of university education at once. As the title implies, both academic content and language learning objectives are integrated, and are simultaneous aims of a CLIL syllabus. This integration of key aims helps to explain why it is an excellent vehicle to facilitate thinking in the target language, which should be the primary objective in any language class.

The learning-centred benefits of syllabi designed around thematically integrated units have received recent attention in educational philosophy (O’Brien, Millis, & Cohen, 2009). Having the teacher dovetail content in logical, meaningful order also remedies the problem that “[u]nfortunately, many language textbooks contain poorly motivated and illogically sequenced texts and dialogues that do not reflect real-world language” (Shrum & Glisan, 1994, p. 28). In contrast, the sequence for course material production that the current authors outline above ensure (i) an essential integration of content and language and (ii) a meaningful relation of exercises where each progresses logically to the next.

Another important benefit of CLIL is that throughout the entire course, the target language is being used as the medium of study in such a way that the students must think in English. Because of the nature of the activities, the students cannot just keep up by translating from the first language to the target language or by using other fallbacks that hinder immersion and thinking in the target language. The students are kept on the target language in various ways, due to the interrelated units being sequenced from passive skill exercises to progressively more active skill exercises.

To clarify, at the start of each unit the focus is on passive listening skills. The listening cloze activity, for example (Appendix, section 2), rewards attentive listening and straightforward retention of the words, which the students are then asked to recall. There is no need for translation here, and doing so would only make the activity more difficult, because the students can succeed at this level by attention, retention and recall. Naturally there is room for more active skills even here, as students are encouraged to see how applying grammatical knowledge can help to both infer the correct answers, and to rule out many incorrect ones.

Further along the unit, we come to the note scan exercise (Appendix, section 4b). To reiterate, this series of comprehension questions (there are 53 in the appended example unit) is usually completed as homework. The answers are constructed from the notes that the students took during the in-class mini-lectures (Appendix, section 4a). Now it is important that the source for the answers be the students’ self-made notes, which is why the complete text for the course is not given to the students until almost the very end of the unit. These notes have been written within a framework where the teacher has given a few of the salient words and plenty of marginal blank space so that the students can write down key points, phrases, definitions, examples, and so on. The CLIL student is thus required to stock and use English vocabulary and grammar in order to think about the content material and to apply the relevant concepts through actively practicing language skills: listening and speaking, and reading and writing.

In CLIL, when a new concept is learned, it is very often a new idea for the students altogether, i.e. one that has not yet been encountered in the first language. Because the concept is a novel one altogether for most students in the class, there is less reason or incentive for them to attempt to translate back-and-forth between the first and target languages. To take an example from the philosophy class, when students first learn about Lockean primary and secondary qualities, they try to understand the revolutionary, often shocking idea that colours do not objectively exist in the external object. Within each student’s mental effort, the ideas, and the concepts that articulate them, are accommodated and assimilated through question-and-answer sessions, and plenty of practice speaking and writing in English. These new ideas, then, are primarily encountered entirely within the target language. Rather than wading through in English content already learned in the native language, learning truly new material in this way provides a kind of intellectual baptism in the target language.


Figure 4: Active student work

In the activities sequence, the dictogloss is the turning point in the unit when the passive, teacher-controlled exercises are gradually replaced by active, student-controlled exercises. Hence, this exercise works very well as a bridge from passive to active student work. It involves interpretation, and the ‘gloss’ in dictogloss is very much the students’ thinking at work. It is very active, requiring creativity with meaning and with English. In the decoding and encoding processes, the language becomes their English, as they are now really using it, owning it, and reconstructing with it. The grammar is no longer limited or limiting here, as the students leave behind the framework of passive, teacher-controlled grammar that existed in the preceding exercises, such as the scanning questions, or, even more so, the listening and reading clozes.

It must be remembered that teaching is an art, not a science. The learning objectives for the class drive the materials and activities to teach them. What the authors have presented here are general concepts in developing an integrated content and language course, but the specific activities need to be adapted to the particular content and objectives. The point here is if something is not working, adapt it so it will work. If it still does not work, cut the losses and move on to the next exercise. Silence and confusion in the classroom: bad; active production of the target language: good.

Coyle, D. (2002). Relevance of CLIL to the European Commission Language Learning Objectives, in Marsh, D. (ed.) (2002), CLIL/EMILE – The European dimension: Actions, trends and foresight potential public services contract DG EAC: European Commission, Public Services Contract DG 3406/001-001.

Marsh, D. (1994). Bilingual education & content and language integrated learning. Paris: International Association for Cross-cultural Communication, Language Teaching in the Member States of the European Union (Lingua), University of Sorbonne. University of Sorbonne, cited in Smala, S., (2009). New literacies in a globalised world, 17(3).

O’Brien, J.G., Millis, B.J., & Cohen, M.W. (2009). The course syllabus: A learning-centered approach. Sand Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Shrum, J., & Glisan, E. (1994). Teacher’s handbook: Contextualized language instruction. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

About the AuthorsPeter Cheyne blog
Peter Cheyne, M.Phil. (Philosophy, Kent), Ph.D. (Philosophy, Durham), has been teaching Philosophy and English in Japan since 2002, and is currently Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Kyoto Notre Dame University.


Edward Rummel blogEdward Rummel has an MA in TESOL from Southern Illinois University and started teaching English in Japan in 1988 at SIU’s branch campus. Currently he is an Associate Professor at Miyazaki International College in Miyazaki, Japan, teaching content-based integrated-skills English courses. His research interests include materials development and language program development.

A Completely Different Ball Game: Content and Language Integrated Learning through the Sociology of Sport

by Mark Brooke
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

The objective of this paper is to report on a Content and Language Integrated Learning module entitled Sport and Competition within the broader field of the Sociology of Sport. In particular, it presents classroom instructional activities developed over a period of 8 months to guide students to notice and manipulate language in context. The rationale based on Second Language Acquisition Theory behind these is then discussed. It is believed that while on-task, focusing on these activities in the classroom, intentional and incidental learning of the target content-specific language (bricks) and general cross-curricular academic language (mortar) occurs (Dutro & Moran, 2003). In addition, CLIL courses can enable students to become more aware of transferrable academic literacy skills desired for academic study in multiple disciplines. This is particularly significant for first year undergraduates embarking on intensive study, which is the context for this paper. One of the implications of this paper is that teachers of like or other disciplines could gain insights for their own classrooms, and even enter into professional dialogue regarding these. Based on these objectives, this paper will present those tasks facilitated for deconstructing academic expository texts (to prepare for writing) in order to carry out written assignments. The skills taught at the lexico-grammatical level were concordancing; mind mapping and concept mapping; and at the discourse level, argument mapping and analysing persuasive appeal. These were facilitated to prepare students for writing academic genres such as summaries, comparison papers and academic persuasive essays. Participants (6 groups of 12 students over 2 semesters) explicitly stated in their end of course feedback that they saw these skills as highly valuable as they became more aware of the possibility of transferring them across disciplines to their other subject learning.

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Singapore is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society with four official languages: Mandarin, English, Malay and Tamil. In order to maximise cohabitation and collaboration between these ethnic groups, English was chosen as the common language of the nation and introduced as the medium of instruction in schools and universities. As a result, many Singaporeans proceeding from school into university have strong proficiency in academic English. The majority are able to function effectively in an English medium classroom environment. CLIL, in this context, is presented as an educational model in which English is used as a lingua franca for academic purposes.

The Ideas and Exposition Programme (IEP) run by the Centre of English Language Communication at the National University of Singapore adopts CLIL practice. CLIL is a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of content and language with the objective of promoting both content and language mastery to pre-defined levels (Marsh et al., 2010, p. 11). These academic writing courses are primarily taught by content specialists (lecturers with PhDs in sociolinguistics, film, literature, cultural studies and bioethics). Modules include topics such as critical approaches to photography; the construction of public personas; a study on Singlish and intercultural communication; and an analysis of heroes and their construction in ancient and contemporary societies. The module presented, as noted, is entitled Sport and Competition, and its purpose is to provide a sociological interpretation of sport as a cultural global phenomenon, with a particular focus on the emergence and growth of ultra-competitive, elite modern sports and the detrimental side effects of this, such as the deviant subculture of doping.

The course description is provided below. The conceptual content of the course is presented at this point in the paper because it is necessary for readers to be familiar with it in order to fully understand the data in the results section and the discussions.

“Is winning everything? Should participation or self-defining achievement be more valued? Is sport becoming too elitist? Does the obsession to win create the need for performance-enhancing drugs? Should we legalize doping or tighten control measures? Should we change the nature of professional competitive sport?”

As noted, the course is a sociological analysis of sport as a cultural phenomenon in society. In this field, sociologists argue over questions such as whether sport in modernity has lost its social and ludic functions, considered both as innate human characteristics. Today, rather than encouraging participation in sport, humans are more often than not spectators of an elite sport system that is overcome by extrinsic rewards, competition, dominance and conquest; competitive sport is also highly bureaucratized and standardized, and athletes are more often than not extremely specialized in their sport. This is a very different model of sport to that first practised at the Greek Olympics (776 BC), during which races were not timed. This sporting culture, referred to by Coakley (2009) as the power and performance model, is defined as:

 “a framework for an organizational structure emphasizing hierarchical leadership, exclusive participation, and the use of strength, speed, and power to push human limits and dominate opponents in the quest for competitive success” (p. 675).

Its nemesis, what Coakley refers to as the pleasure and participation model consisting of sporting practices that still retain their ludic elements, is consciously resistant to the more common global elite sport culture. This model is:

“a framework for an organizational structure emphasizing democratic leadership, inclusive participation, and the use of cooperation and competition with others to develop and test skills in a healthy and enjoyable context” (Coakley, 2009, p. 674).

These are considered not merely as sports but as counter-hegemonic forces opposing the dominant culture of the elite professional sporting milieu. In reality the distinction is not black and white but forms two ends of a continuum: some sports such as the National Football League or Mixed Martial Arts are at one extreme, while ‘pick-up’ games and non-competitive sporting activities such as Tai Chi might be interpreted as being at the other. It is necessary to explicate this distinction as it is used as the basis of the topic for the tasks outlined in the results.

A core set of twelve scholarly research articles from content-specific journals in the fields of the sociology of sport, sport science and medicine discourse communities was constructed as the syllabus. These included an introductory paper from the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology by Loy and Coakley (2009) entitled ‘Sport’ and then more specialised topics taken from The Sociology of Sport Journal, The Journal of Sport Behavior, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, International Review of Sport Sociology, British Journal of Sports Medicine, and Sports Medicine. In addition, two book chapters from Coakley and Dunning’s (2006) Handbook of Sports Studies and Eitzen’s (2005) Sport in Contemporary Society were selected for the text corpus. It is a twelve-week course only, with around forty-eight contact hours and a relatively high lexico-grammatical input and student output requirement.

The development of this syllabus occurred through a construction process and the noticing of connections between texts, either from in-text citation or the reference sections of journal papers. This connectivity is referred to as intertextuality, coined by Kristeva (1966, 1970). Intertextuality in discourse communities refers to the combining of past writings into original, new pieces of text. The premise is that all texts within a particular discourse community tend to be related to prior texts through a more or less complex network. Writers, often within a specific discourse community, may or may not be aware of the extent of this network but they do, on the whole, borrow, reinterpret and accumulate what has previously been written within a given context. Thus, there is a progressive assimilation of new knowledge into old. A text’s capacity to be present in other texts is referred to as iterability. One such example is offered by Porter who argues that the Declaration of Independence was borrowed from Locke’s Social Contract Theory, the Declaration of Rights for Virginia by George Mason, and the English Bill of Rights in 1689. The starting point for the corpus for Sport and Competition was the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, which not only served as a good introduction to the topic but also a literature survey. From this point, concepts or references were signaled to other texts, and this allowed for the identification of related readings leading to the construction of a body of texts suitable for the syllabus.

Theoretical underpinnings of the module and classroom practice
CLIL and Second Language Acquisition Theory
Much has been written about the benefits of the CLIL classroom as a language-acquisition-rich environment (Marsh et al., 2010; Marsh and Frigols, 2013). In particular, the effectiveness of CLIL instruction in developing larger receptive and productive lexicons has been widely reported (Jexenflicker & Dalton-Puffer, 2010; Lo & Murphy, 2010; Ruiz de Zarobe, 2011; Zydatiß, 2007). This is predominantly due to the cognitively challenging and holistic approach taken to curriculum design and instruction (Baetens-Beardsmore, 2008). The approach is in accordance with Krashen’s (1981) acquisition-learning hypothesis, which argues that acquisition occurs as a natural process in context and this is contrasted to the formal learning of syntax or phonology. Based on this premise, if learners are provided with appropriate comprehensible input (i+1) in the classroom, as they are in their natural environments, the lexico-grammatical structures that the learners are ready to learn can be absorbed.

This teacher-researcher acknowledges the worth of Krashen’s i+1 hypothesis. However, for formal academic English, and specific content-based language, I also hold that learners need instruction; it is not sufficient to solely provide input. For Schmidt (2010), awareness is synonymous with Krashen’s notion of acquisition, for it is an intuitive understanding or a higher level of knowledge, assimilated through adequate exposure. However, Schmidt (ibid) argues that in the process of building a language knowledge structure, two other intra-mental states are at work. These are intention and attention (Schmidt, 2010). Intention is the user’s need to purposefully notice and focus on particular aspects of language or information in order to understand a text. Attention is the follow-on stage from intention. In this case, the learner deliberately decides to systematically study what has been noticed. Thus, in language learning, attention to acquire vocabulary, as is often the case for content-specific courses, involves the conscious study of collocation, superordination and connotation, and other notions that lead to the realization of meaning. Thus, according to Van Lier, the process of knowledge construction can only really commence when a realization of what to look for has been achieved:

To learn something new one must first notice it. This noticing is an awareness of its existence, obtained and enhanced by paying attention to it. Paying attention is focusing one’s consciousness, or pointing one’s perceptual powers in the right direction, and making mental ‘energy’ available for processing. (Van Lier, 1996, p. 11)

When dealing with groups of students who are both first and second language learners in the same classroom, having a rich reading corpus such as the scholarly research articles listed above is essential if acquisition is to be facilitated. In addition, intention and attention can be facilitated by focusing on activities that require learners in groups to deconstruct texts and negotiate meanings. A skilled tutor is able to make good use of a text to guide learners to notice language and develop students’ linguistic repertoires. Tutors can provide activities “which encourage students to think about samples of language and to draw their own conclusions about how the language works.” (Willis, 1996, p.63).

Thus, although students are individually assimilating the language, the tutor has directed their intention and attention. In addition, and in accordance with Willis, if students themselves are given the responsibility of analysing a text to create their own corpus, the pedagogy becomes a form of ‘data-driven learning’ (Johns, 1991), where the data are primary and the teacher has a new role as a coordinator of research, or facilitator of awareness-raising.

Content-specific and general cross-curricular academic language
A lexical approach (Lewis, 1993; Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992; Sinclair, 1991; Thornbury, 2004; Willis, 1990) was one of the main strategies applied for the course and materials design, particularly for the first of three units. In other words, the content objectives of the course focused on the lexico-grammar of the field, i.e. its collocations (e.g., gender equity) and lexical phrases (e.g., a zero-sum ludic encounter). These were to be learned and used for communicative purposes, particularly for academic writing.* These language chunks have also been referred to as ‘sentence frames’ or ‘institutional utterances’ (Lewis, 1993, pp. 92-95), and ‘pre-fabricated lexical phrases’ (Nattinger & DeCarrico, 1992, p.1?) or, as used for this paper, lexemes. According to Crystal (2003, p.118), “A lexeme is a unit of lexical meaning, which exists regardless of any inflectional endings it may have or the number of words it may contain.”

Dutro and Moran’s (2003) bricks and mortar metaphor is often applied to describe the connection between general cross-curricular academic language and content-specific language. This can be seen in Figure 1 below, taken from Zwiers (2008, p. 21).


Figure 1: Overlapping variations of language that develop over time

The dotted line in the figure represents the first or foundational level of language use. From that point, language learning develops exponentially and becomes more focused as the learner develops a particular knowledge area. The mortar words are used to link general academic language with content-specific language from subject areas. Examples of common academic mortar lexemes or those found in general cross-curricular academic language are that is to say; leads us to believe; is dependent on. Another common source where 570 academic word families can be found is at the Academic Word List compiled by Coxhead academicwordlist/. Examples of the most common of these (from sublist 1 of 10) are analyse, major, structure, source, authority, significant, method, sector, legislate, section, assume, legal, vary, theory, and assess. In order for learners to perform well in a course of the type described in this paper, students are required to use both bricks and mortar effectively. As already noted, the genre types assessed are text summary-response, comparative paper and an academic persuasive essay (APE).

Classroom activities
The activities presented in this paper are (i) creating concordances, (ii) mind mapping, (iii) concept mapping, (iv) argument mapping and (v) analyzing persuasive appeals. The creating concordances, mind mapping, and concept mapping can be seen as learning activities that occur at the lexico-grammatical level. The argument mapping and analyzing persuasive appeals occur at the discourse level as they involve analysing whole clauses. In this teacher-researcher’s opinion, each of these activities should not have a long duration in class because good pacing of collaborative activities of this nature keeps students involved and on task. In addition, requiring learners to present the data that they have created in the classroom is an effective strategy for CLIL because learners are required to use the language to communicate about their work. For all of these activities, it is preferable that learners do not read aloud from the text where the items are embedded but use their own grammars (more or less) to paraphrase while using the text as a scaffold.

By searching for words in a particular text, sentences containing that word can be found creating concordances. A concordance is “a collection of the occurrences of a word-form, each in its textual environment” (Sinclair, 1991, p. 32). A set of lexico-grammatical items can be constructed by inputting a text into a tool such as Wordsmith or an online concordancer (through which texts can be first uploaded) found on sites such as the British National Corpus (BNC). One particularly effective method of concordancing is creating a list of content-specific language by searching for nominal constructions attached to ‘a’/ ‘an’ or ‘the’ in a relatively dense, content-specific text. This will provide strings of phrases and collocations (lexemes) making up nominal constructions from the field producing an extensive list of vocabulary, in this case, relating to the sociology of sport.

In order to commence the building of the field, students were initially required to make concordances using ‘a/ an’ or ‘the’ from an introductory paper by Loy and Coakley (2009) entitled ‘Sport’ in the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. This provided a sound foundation of nominal constructions of the content-specific language. Example tokens selected by one group of students to describe sport as a sociological phenomenon having uploaded one section of the text into the BNC concordancer are provided below: 

A parody of emotional vulnerability
A universal hegemonic trend of standardization and globalization of sport practices
An expressive ubiquitous social phenomenon of great magnitude and complexity
A basic, socially-induced desire to experience enjoyable mimetic excitement (without the risks and tensions of real life struggle)
A monolithic global sport culture
A zero-sum ludic encounter

Students brought these lexemes up on the class projector or wrote them out on the board and explained their meanings. During this activity, learners typically have to compare these particular strings with others used in the text; for example, ‘an expressive phenomenon’ (predominantly a ‘pleasure and participation model’) can be juxtaposed with ‘an instrumental’ one (predominantly a ‘power and performance model’); in other words, as already noted, sport can be both process, done solely for ludic purposes, and product-oriented conducted to win, break records or earn money and fame; a bias towards one or the other will depend on the context in which the sport is being played. 

Mind mapping
Formal mind mapping techniques commenced with Buzan. On his website, he states:

A Mind map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain.

Mind mapping is a ‘visual, non-linear representation of ideas and their relationships’ (Biktimirov and Nilson, 2006, p. 1). In other words, a mind map can arrange information spatially in ways that text normally does not. This enables learners to explore associations between lexico-grammatical items. It is a strategy common to diverse academic disciplines e.g., Finance (Biktimirov & Nilson, 2006), Economics (Nettleship, 1992), Optometry (McClain, 1987) and Medicine (Farrand, Hussain & Hennessy, 2002a). Mind mapping has an important function in brain-based theories of learning related to the constitution of the mental lexicon, the mental system comprising all information someone knows about words (Richards & Schmidt, 2002). It is probable that semantic relations such as those represented in mind maps are some of the most prominent information networks constructed in the brain. In the classroom, the practice is particularly effective for brainstorming or conducting an initial mining of a text to find words that are semantically connected allowing for free, creative thinking to construct associations.

Once the content-specific lexemes had been identified through concordancing, students were asked to associate the terms that had emerged with the pleasure and participation and power and performance models, which had been presented in class, and to create a mind map. Some students used Word or PowerPoint SmartArt to do this. Buzan’s software ( is also an excellent tool for mind mapping. Through this activity, students became more aware of the issues associated with these two models within this specific field. When these were complete, they were presented and compared between groups. During this sharing, groups continued to extend their own structures based on peer and tutor feedback, thus learning collaboratively. An example from a group is provided below in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Associations in the field of the sociology of sport 

Concept mapping
Concept maps are attributed to Novak (1972) and his work on teaching children science concepts (Novak & Canas, 2006). Consequently, they are sometimes referred to as ‘Novakian maps.’ Although the mind map in Figure 2 presents the conceptual notions ‘pleasure and participation’ and ‘power and performance’ sport models, it is not clear that these are superordinates, nor is it clear what some of the complexities of meanings between these terms are. Complex topics of this nature require relational analysis and concept mapping facilitates this. A concept map has a hierarchical “tree” structure with superordinate and subordinate parts (primary, secondary and tertiary ideas) and suitable cross-links using verbs and prepositions or prepositional phrases are frequently applied to present the relationship between the key concepts. Concept mapping is used in diverse disciplines e.g., Accounting (Chei-Chang 2008); Engineering (Walker & King 2002), Nursing (King & Shell 2002); and Medicine (Hoffman et al. 2002).

In figure 3, an extract from a concept map provided by learners represents some perceived hierarchies between concepts. Here, extrinsically motivated is considered one of the most essential composites of the ‘power and performance’ model, and extrinsic motivations nurtured the more an activity is instrumental rather than expressive in nature. Rather than a process-oriented approach to play because one enjoys it, there is a product-oriented approach, one driven by revenue-based rewards and media coverage. In addition, as there is a uniform, globalized structure of sport practices, also referred to as the sportification process, events are formally structured and rationalized for efficiency and effectiveness. As learners construct this visual, they need to negotiate conceptual meanings together and find congruence. There is thus a deep understanding of the lexemes’ meanings.


Figure 3: Concept Mapping of Power and Performance Model 

Argument mapping
Several studies have demonstrated that argument mapping can have a significant impact on undergraduate student learning, especially involving improvements in critical thinking (Twardy 2004; van Gelder et al. 2004). Argument mapping is another visualising strategy but at the discourse level. The focus is on analysing claims and how they are connected in an expository text. Similarly to concept mapping, argument mapping has a hierarchical form in that the main proposition is numbered 1, and claims supporting or objecting this are offered as other numbers depending on the inferred importance of these within the text. This technique can help students to understand complex argumentation by analysing the logical structures of the reasoning in a text, and creating diagrams to capture them.

An example of a student’s summary of claims taken from an academic journal paper (Spriggs et al, 2005, pp. 112-113) which was presented in class as part of a text deconstruction activity is provided below. The section of the paper summarised analyses one aspect of the argumentation concerning the proposition that performance enhancing drugs in sport should not be legalized.

Student’s summary
1 First, 2.

The logical reasoning in this group of claims has been broken down into an argument map in figure 4. The numbers represent the ordering of the claims.

Figure 4: Argument Mapping of Spriggs et al (2005, pp. 112-113)

The argument defends the proposition that PEDs should not be legalised (1). At the first level, there is the contention that athletes are role models (2) with the supporting evidence that some youths idolize their favourite sports person (3). There is also the contention that these drugs are inherently dangerous (4) with supporting evidence for this (5). Then there is an objection to an objection, a rebuttal (7), regarding an opponent’s claim (6). For this activity, content-specific language is used (performance enhancing drugs; genotypic differences) in context as entire clauses from the text are paraphrased in order to present the claims.

Analysing persuasive appeal
In writing premises and claims in the expository genre, authors appeal to reason through the application of evidence and logic to persuade. This can be referred to as appealing to logos. Authors also seek to persuade by eliciting a reader’s emotions (appealing to pathos), and to demonstrate that they are knowledgeable in the field under discussion and thus have good judgment (appealing to ethos). These three perspectives for constructing claims are important as writers use them to anticipate how their readers will respond to an argument; in particular, whether they will be sympathetic or antagonistic towards it. These engagement strategies in argumentation are derived from ancient Greek writers, in particular Aristotle. Analysing persuasive appeal in text is not only commonly used in ESL tertiary courses (Kibler, Walqui & Bunch, 2014) but also in other fields such as Law (Berger, 2010).

Working with an argument map such as the one above, learners can be asked to extend it by discerning the kind of appeals being used by the author. The following was pinpointed by this teacher-researcher in classroom as an example. Notice that a table has been used to aid the presentation spatially.


Table 1: Teacher’s example of analysing persuasive appeal for classroom practice

Appealing to logos, the author uses inductive reasoning relying on evidence and observation. This is also supported by a claim citing the President’s council on bioethics, thus appealing to ethos by using a credible source. In contrast, the appeal to pathos is based on a provocative, more subjective issue on the social role of athletes. Also, the tone of this claim is more emotive; it is language which has an emotional impact on readers, rather than using reason or status, to persuade. For the Sport and Competition course, the task required learners to compare two academic papers, specifically, two experts’ opinions on the issue of legalising performance enhancing substances in sport. Most students found that appealing to pathos was common in the pro-legalisation and logos more common in the antithesis. They also found that appeals to logos were more convincing than pathos-centric argumentation, and this aided their critical review of the authors’ premises in their articles.

For this section, the advantages of these activities for the CLIL classroom are discussed.

Assessing students’ prior knowledge
By asking students to input a section of a text and to create content-specific concordances, mind maps and concept maps, a tutor can find out how much students in a class know about the content-specific field. As Novak & Cañas (2004, p. 5) state:

Learners and teachers almost always have faulty knowledge or misconceptions in virtually every domain of knowledge that has been studied. Research has also shown that these misconceptions are notoriously difficult to overcome with traditional instruction. The use of concept maps has been shown to be effective for remediating misconceptions.

Doing these activities proved to be beneficial for this reason, particularly for a new subject that many students had little prior knowledge of. Students commonly needed clarification as to the meaning of lexemes, and how to pronounce certain terms. One caveat for concordancing is to be mindful of the density of the text being analysed. If a text is densely content-specific, only sections of it should be given to groups to present.

Eliciting in-class discussion and collaborative learning
When students are engaged in groups in mind-mapping activities, it is interesting to note how their lexico-grammatical structures grow and expand. Often at least two drafts are created before a final, cleaner version is offered for sharing. Then, as learners present, groups find examples that they had not perceived and add these to their own forms. The example in figure 2 is only an excerpt of quite a complex construction from the paper by Loy and Coakley (2009).

With regard to concept mapping, discussions about hierarchies can arise from the sharing. For example, rationalised provoked debate as another group considered that bureaucratised would be more appropriate as a more encompassing concept. However, after some whole-class discussion, it was decided that rationalised was preferable as, within the context of the Sociology of Sport, rationalised refers to sport moving away from spontaneous play, which is a primary reason for a change in its structure whereas bureaucratised refers to measures taken after rationalisation such as timing procedures, game rules and authoritative figures such as FIFA becoming essential. This was an example of a conceptually-challenging small-scale CLIL discussion elicited through concept mapping.

Reading critically and preparing for writing
The techniques of argument mapping and analysing persuasive appeal in academic texts were observed to work well together as an integrated set of academic literacy skills for the expository genre. These skills helped to improve the clarity of the students’ thinking and to improve their reading comprehension and written argumentation. It was found that some learners needed guidance as to how to deconstruct texts critically using these strategies. The following is an example of a good summary of a relatively complex argument from an academic text (Wiesing, 2011) that a group of students compiled in class:


Table 2: Students’ example of analysing persuasive appeal for classroom practice

Similarly to the academic paper, the summary structure applies the principles of Aristotelian syllogism, moving from a major premise to a related specific statement, then to a conclusion. Also, reflecting the paper, the argumentation appeals to ethos, logos and pathos: ethos is conveyed by scientific lexis e.g. biological agent and induces major physiological change; an appeal to pathos is made through creating an expectation of dread with collocations such as not entirely trustworthy. Finally, the conclusion ‘they should not be legalised’ is the logical consequence of the previous premises. However, in the full-length academic paper, the argumentation does not appear as succinctly as it is presented above. As is typical in an expository, academic paper, some premises are unstated assumptions, some are supported with primary and secondary sources, and conclusions are sometimes only inferred by an author. The technique of argument mapping allows learners to pinpoint the main contention in a text, dismiss unrequired discursive elements and make distinctions between premises and conclusions. As Rider & Thomason (2008) argue, this cognitive process is commonly ignored at any educational level, despite it being crucial for academic literacy. In most programmes, reading for general meaning or gist is the most common objective and little regard is given to such activities. In addition, it was found from their initial writing tasks that some learners required practice in maintaining logically complex argumentation. A focus on argument mapping at the organizational, pre-draft writing stage is an excellent strategy for some learners when planning what is going to be written about and how it will be presented. It also helps students to engage in peer review: if a peer’s work lacks clarity of thinking, creating an argument map might be problematic.

Catering for mixed abilities
The above-mentioned activities tend to cater for mixed abilities effectively as they are conducted in groups. Learners work with computer and collaboratively design their maps or tables. They then prepare and often take turns to present their work. Finally, as students have worked collectively to construct their visual, they have a strong sense of ownership towards it and this tends to lead to a sharing of the floor during the question time that follows the presentation.

Each task presented encourages active, collaborative learning, and each is data-driven, ensuring that the teacher has a role as a coordinator of research and facilitator of awareness-raising. In addition, as noted already, these activities require learners to use the target content-specific language and it is presumed that during the text deconstruction stages, they are noticing patterns of general cross-curricular academic language in context. Further, if they are required to present their completed tasks, there is a need for students to use the target language in context. Thus, it is hoped that both intentional and incidental learning simultaneously occurs.

All of the activities discussed in this paper can easily be done in class in groups; if necessary, a text can be split up into segments so that learners do not deconstruct the same parts to increase engagement and meaningful collaborative learning. At the lexico-grammatical level, through concordancing, mind mapping and concept mapping content-specific texts, learners are guided to notice (facilitating the processes of intention and attention) and are then encouraged to manipulate these resources by negotiating meanings, and to develop inherent connections between lexemes. At the discourse level, activities such as argument mapping and analysing persuasive appeal enable learners to critically read content-specific texts and to make informed judgments about the meanings authors strive to convey through the premises and conclusions drawn in their writing. Strategies to critically deconstruct expository texts in this way develop important critical thinking skills such as analysing, associating, evaluating and conceptualising. They are also useful in reconstructions. For instance when asked to summarise a text, they act as an effective foundation from which to build. In addition, the academic literacy skills, as demonstrated in the literature reviews for each, are common in diverse academic fields and are thus transferable and useful in the long term.

For the Sport and Competition course, students were required to write 1500-word persuasive academic essays. Learners chose their own topics, and many focused on their own areas of study or their own passions. For example, an engineer wrote a paper on the use of technology in sport and to what extent we should allow it; he used the case study of the LZR swimsuit during the Beijing Olympics as an empirical source. A female student wrote about women’s football and the way a female’s body is portrayed in the sporting media; this student drew on feminist and postmodern feminism for her expose. In the writing of these papers, the students drew on some of the lexico-grammatical resources encountered during the course, but they were exposed to a great deal of new content-specific language through their own research and this provided them with the bricks required for their essays. In the end-of-course feedback, students reported that they had used the skills presented in this paper for their own research, particularly during the reading of complex content-specific text and the writing of their literature reviews. That is one major reason why the activities presented were selected for this paper. A common thread in the course feedback is encapsulated in the following student’s writing:

I have learnt a lot, both in content and especially with regards to academic reading and writing skills, and I believe that these will be very useful and applicable for the rest of my time at NUS.

The main benefit of the strategies for CLIL presented in this paper can be seen to be their transferability; whatever the student’s specialisation, raising awareness and facilitating practice of academic literacy skills such as these, are essential. It is hoped therefore that readers of this paper will see how some of these practices in a Content and Language Integrated Learning classroom can be effective in developing academic literacy at lexico-grammatical and discourse levels as well as learners’ lexicons.

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About the Author
Mark Brooke blogMark Brooke is Lecturer at the Centre for English Language Communication at the National University of Singapore. He has presented and published in areas such as the sociology of sport, linguistics, teacher training, qualitative research methodology, and educational policy-making.

  1. No performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) should be legalised.
  2. athletes should represent positive social values such as excellence and dedication in because [3. the youth idolizes some sporting greats. Second, [4. PEDs are dangerous: due to genotypic differences, a diverse unpredictable range of physiological responses can be expected. Indeed, as stated by the President’s council on bioethics, [5. no biological agent powerful enough to induce major bodily alterations can be entirely trustworthy or without side effects. Third, although [6. Tannsjo (2004) argues that poorer nations would be advantaged, [7. this is difficult to believe as their athletes would not have the same kind of medical entourage as their richer counterparts

Countering Essentialist Conceptualizations of Content Knowledge in a Japanese CLIL Situation

by Glenn Toh
Tamagawa University, Japan

Knowledge of reality is essential for developing self-consciousness and a subsequent increase of knowledge. But if it’s to be authentic, this act of knowing always requires the unveiling of its object. (Freire, 1985, p. 168)

For the dialogical, problem-solving teacher-student, the program content of education is neither a gift nor an imposition – bits of information to be deposited in the students – but rather the organized, systematized, and developed “representation” to individuals of the things about which they want to know more. (Freire, 2000, p. 93)

This article discusses CLIL in a Japanese university. It seeks to explore ways of combining CLIL with creative pedagogies which encourage students to view content knowledge as being fluid, situated and dynamic given the current fast-changing realities surrounding the ways in which knowledge is shaped, created, represented and appropriated. It also seeks to examine the practical implications of the view that language use (in this case EFL) is inherently discursive and contextually-situated in nature. It argues for the importance of appreciating different ways in which language can be mobilized to shape and generate new meanings through CLIL, represented in this article as a ‘cutting-edge’ approach of ELT. Using examples from a third- and fourth-year seminar program in Multicultural Studies conducted in English, the article additionally illustrates how dynamic views of language and content knowledge can open up opportunities for students to think beyond existing configurations of content knowledge and meaning. The content of this article holds larger implications for an ELT which needs to be more responsive to current fast-changing global conditions and local specificities.

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This article is in the manner of a reflexive narrative focusing on my professional praxis as a teacher of English and Multicultural Studies in a Japanese higher education situation. I came to Japan in 2007 after having taught EFL, EAP and ESP as well as TESOL teacher training courses in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong and my native Singapore.

My aim in this article is to explore ways of combining my practice of CLIL with what Edwards and Usher (2008) refer to as pedagogies of (dis)location, which set out to encourage students to look at knowledge and content as being multipliable and malleable and as ‘things about which they want to know more’ (Freire, 2000, p. 93). I will argue that the dynamic attributes associated with the pedagogies of (dis)location can work together with CLIL’s aims to integrate content and language, ‘create life experiences’ (Mehisto, Marsh & Frigols, 2008, p. 32) and make content and English language learning more meaningful and empowering for students.

My reason for exploring these dynamic linkages between CLIL and the pedagogies of (dis)location is that Japanese universities have recently been attempting to find ways to respond to fast-moving changes as a result of globalization and the impact of newer understandings of content knowledge that an increasingly digitalized world of communication is bringing about (Yamagami & Tollefson, 2011). Japanese universities have, moreover, been making concerted efforts to reform their curricula including plans to deliver content courses in English (Yamagami & Tollefson, 2011), where Japanese had previously been the sole medium of content instruction. Such a development has presented new challenges to the ELT profession. Given these recent happenings and developments, CLIL and its concerns with the integration of language and content are matters of currency (if not urgency) in Japanese ELT.

In relation to current understandings of CLIL as reflected in its professional literature, my discussion will seek to address and expand on the notion of socio-constructivism highlighted in Marsh, Mehisto, Wolff and Frigols-Martin (2010) and how socio-constructivism relates to the dynamics of both critical and creative thinking. Through the classroom illustrations provided, my discussion will also examine how CLIL teachers can actively ‘deploy strategies for the co-construction of knowledge with learners’ while ‘fostering critical thinking’ (Marsh, et al., 2010, p. 21). The relevance of this aspect of CLIL will become apparent later in my description of the activities and processes of my multicultural studies seminar in English, not least because notions of multiculturalism are currently very much in a state of flux in Japan given contestations over powerful discourses representing Japan as a monocultural nation.

This discussion is premised on my understanding that CLIL ‘encourages teachers to keep using their favorite strategies and to apply standard best practices in education’ while ‘opening windows for personal achievement’ for students (Mehisto, et al., 2008, p. 27 and p. 138). The content of the discussion has wider implications for an ELT which will be more responsive to fast-changing global and local realities and challenges.

In terms of the development of the overall narrative, I will highlight and review the relevant literature on the nature of content knowledge and the pedagogies of (dis)location before turning to other details concerning the planning and operationalizing of my multicultural studies seminar.

Pedagogies of (dis)location
By pedagogies of (dis)location, I am referring to the way such pedagogies allow for understandings of content knowledge that are based on the circumstantial, contextual and cultural-political situations where this knowledge asserts its meaning. At the same time, because of the fluidity and dynamism of these surrounding situations as well as the reality of individualized understandings of different meanings, this knowledge will often be destabilized or dislocated from its original or fixed meanings and appropriations. The notion of (dis)location, therefore, captures an interesting condition where both stability and instability are in dynamic co-existence.

Pedagogies of (dis)location, according to Edwards and Usher (2008), are an important and necessary response to a fast-changing world where knowledge and meaning are increasingly subject to negotiation and change. The fresh realities and challenges that emerge are often significant in the lives of students and teachers through the human exigencies around them. Such changeability is to be contrasted with conceptualizations of content knowledge as being fixed, static, pre-existent, unmalleable or textbook-like.

Pedagogies of (dis)location allow for repeated questioning, reflection and interrogation of what is commonly termed ‘content’ knowledge, which extends beyond what Coyle, Hood and Marsh (2010) note to be ‘transaction modes of educational delivery’ (p. 21). Transaction modes of delivery are ‘largely [about] imparting information’ (Coyle, et al., 2010, p. 21). Integrated with the teaching and learning of language, and in the case of this discussion, English as a Foreign Language, such a dynamic view of content knowledge taps on the potential of language to capture, enable and embody fluidity, hybridity and nuancing of content knowledge. In other words, language is recognized as a means to facilitate new ways of viewing and expressing knowledge.

Combining content and language in this way allows students and teachers to value their own understandings and expressions of localized and individualized meanings. Consequently, content knowledge is not tied down only to essentialized understandings of its nature. Combined with CLIL’s ‘integrative nature’ (Marsh, et al., 2010, p. 5) and attendance to ‘ideas, creativity and intelligence’ (Coyle, et al., 2010, p. 5), such a view of content knowledge allows for an integration of hybridized meanings with increased awareness of the discursive nature of language. Language is within this context recognized for its discursive or representational nature and for its usefulness in helping learners and users appreciate its socially placed role in negotiating meaning (Christie & Derewianka, 2008), while ELT becomes more responsive to the potential of language to capture, create or embody new ideas.

Teaching context
This discussion, which is set within the Language and Cultural Studies department of an established private university in Tokyo, seeks to explore how the above-mentioned fast-moving changes can be met at curricular and pedagogical level through more dynamic understandings of content knowledge and their implications for ELT practitioners like me. Throughout the discussion, I will draw primarily on my experience teaching a seminar entitled Multicultural Studies, which provides ample opportunities to explore how pedagogies of (dis)location can be incorporated into the practices of CLIL.

Literature relevant to the discussion
By way of conceptual framework, this discussion is based on two important observations relating to the way content knowledge is understood by scholars of academic and critical literacies. The first observation concerns what is called the diasporic and (dis)located nature of content knowledge and content development processes (Edwards & Usher, 2008; Peters & Roberts, 2012). The second observation concerns the discursive nature of linguistic and textual representations of content knowledge (Hyland, 2000; Prior, 1998) and social interaction (Christie & Derewianka, 2008).

Concerning the changeable and diasporic nature of content knowledge, Edwards and Usher (2008) argue that in the global age, there can be no one absolute canonical body of content knowledge to be drawn from what critical educator Henry Giroux (cited in Dale & Hyslop-Margison, 2010, p. 57) calls the ‘Great Books’ of high learning. With open journal systems, open learning systems and open information systems becoming the norm, attempts at controlling knowledge production or centralizing knowledge sources (for example, in print versions of textbooks) are becoming extremely impractical (Peters & Roberts, 2012). The emergence of new technologies means that the new Knowledge Age (Coyle, et al., 2010) is characterized by ‘movement and unlimited resources’ (p. 5) as well as seismic changes in the plural nature of global cultures. Moreover, in the many locations (institutional and cyber) where content knowledge is taught or discussed, local practices and unique socio-political conditions are creating new phenomena that help rearrange such knowledge. Such a situation is described in Edwards and Usher (2008) as a (dis)located condition. In other words, ways of knowing and understanding are varied and spread out because of differences in extant or local conditions. As I will demonstrate, discussing multiculturalism in this case must take into account fresh phenomena emerging from the specificities of my teaching context.

The above observations from Edwards and Usher (2008) are consistent with the understanding that ‘content knowledge’ is produced by people (scientists, academics, thinkers and even textbook writers) working out of different localities and situations or within particular discourse communities (Hyland, 2000). These people do not perform their activities in a cultural or intellectual vacuum but are subject to the social, political and intellectual climate in which they live, work and generate the contents of their research and writing (Hyland, 2000).

In addition to its dynamic, diasporic and (dis)located attributes, content knowledge as it is communicated through language is also subject to the rhetorical nature of language use. By this, Hyland (2000) refers to how language use is not something that is neutral and transparent but is affected by the uncertainties, prejudices, preconceptions and devices of human and power relations, including what are commonly thought to be ‘objective’ texts like reports of scientific experiments or findings. In this regard, Hyland (2000) provides a useful summary of how:

…it is naïve to regard texts as accurate representations of what the world is like because this representation is always filtered through acts of selection, foregrounding and symbolization; reality is constructed through processes that are essentially social, involving authority, credibility and disciplinary appeals. (Hyland, 2000, p. 6)

Hyland’s (2000) argument about the socially situated processes of language is an important one in the way it confirms similar observations by Christie and Derewianka (2008). These same authors highlight how language represents the realities of human experience and social interaction, the awareness of which should be promoted by language teachers to help students appreciate different examples of diversity in human experience (Kubota & McKay, 2009).

Hence, in addition to providing language input like vocabulary, parts of speech, punctuation, paragraphing, genre features and other areas normally associated with ELT and EFL, my approach will include awareness of the socially situated and dynamic nature of language. The significance of these observations about how ELT, CLIL and content knowledge are subject to changeable realities will become apparent in the following description of the issues I encountered while planning and implementing my multicultural studies seminar. This realization has helped me shape the way that I understand and approach both content and language teaching.

Planning for the Multicultural Studies seminar
In the following sections, I will describe matters that I found myself having to consider when I planned the ‘syllabus’ for the multicultural studies seminar. A seminar in the Japanese context is where third- and fourth-year students are allocated to specialized interest groups each guided by a teacher who functions as counselor, facilitator and supervisor. Each seminar usually has between 12 and 20 students and meets once a week for two hours.

With regard to the planning that I had to do for seminar activities, I should emphasize here that the idea of a week-by-week ‘lecture’ schedule with set content on multiculturalism followed by worksheets for language practice and tutorial discussions is not the ideal approach, given the dynamic and evolving nature of understandings of multiculturalism in Japan (and beyond). I nevertheless do provide students with broad thematic areas covering immigration, emigration, integration, culture, language and ethnicity for them to explore during seminar contact time. The reason for having broad themes for students to work around is that the idea of multiculturalism in the Japanese context is still in a state of flux, and hence cannot be as straightforward or as easily reduced to a fixed content syllabus along with a set of English vocabulary to be learnt. Indeed, many writers consider Japan to be more of a monocultural society than a multicultural one (Befu, 2001; Hall, 1998; Lee, 2006; Lie, 2001).

In the discussion below, it will be apparent from the issues that emerge how my initial observations about content and language as expressed by Edwards and Usher (2008), Hyland (2000), Christie and Derewianka (2008) and Marsh et al. (2010) are relevant to my practice of CLIL.

Contextual background: Understanding static and dynamic constructions of culture
In terms of contextual factors relevant to my planning, I was conscious of the fact that conceptualizations of Japaneseness and foreignness have been stereotyped in a genre of literature called nihonjinron literature (Befu, 2001, and 2006). Nihonjinron (meaning tenets of Japaneseness) writing is characterized by essentialized views of what it means to be Japanese, often emphasizing what its proponents proffer as characteristics of Japanese homogeneity and uniquenesss. In Japan, nihonjinron functions almost as a civic religion (Befu, 2001). Foreign cultures, notably American culture (also) in an essentialized form, are held in juxtaposition to Japanese culture as a way of accentuating Japaneseness (Befu, 2001; Hall, 1998). Nihonjinron understandings of cultural comparison are also gradated in such a way that white European cultures are thought to be superior to Japanese culture while Asian cultures are thought to be inferior (Befu, 2001; Lee, 2006).

In contrast to what is believed by nihonjinron writers, Tai (2007) argues that Japan is, in reality, not as monocultural as may be assumed by calling the beliefs of Japanese homogeneity a constructed myth. Tai (2007) also points out that Japan was, historically speaking, more diverse if not multiethnic. There have also been attempts in local schools to promote a Japanese version of multicultural education that emphasizes harmonious living among Japanese and immigrants, even though these attempts have been criticized for reproducing inequalities and former colonial hierarchies which may deepen the separation between newcomers and the Japanese (Tai, 2007). Despite these concerns of inequality, the fact remains that Japanese suburbia and hinterland are experiencing an increasing presence of immigrants from Brazil, China, Peru, Korea and Thailand (Kubota & McKay, 2009), providing a very different picture from the powerful image of a monocultural and monolingual Japan.

With such differences in the views of current Japan, it is apparent that there is actually no one canonical body of content knowledge that can be subsumed under the theme of multiculturalism, an observation that recalls Edwards and Usher’s argument (2008) about the situated and dynamic nature of knowledge and the need for a reflexive and (dis)located pedagogy. Indeed, any sort of planning for a course in multicultural studies in the current Japanese context will need to take this important observation into account. In addition, given that my seminar class is comprised almost entirely of students who have grown up in a variety of social and geographical (e.g. Kanto, Tohoku, Chubu) settings, the dynamic and diasporic notions of content knowledge offered by Edwards and Usher (2008) can be effectively used to reflect the histories, subjectivities and understandings of my very own students – and especially the question of what multiculturalism means to them and their peers. Thus, the ‘C’ (Content) in CLIL achieves a social and diasporic dimension among my students as they become active co-constructors and co-creators in the production of content knowledge.

Benefits for teaching and learning
What are the benefits to be gained for CLIL in allowing for wider and more dynamic understandings of content knowledge as described in Edwards and Usher (2008)? And what are the advantages of encouraging student awareness of rhetorical and interactional influences on the way knowledge is conveyed through language (Hyland, 2000)?

Benefits for content teaching
An important benefit to be gained from a dynamic and diasporic view of content knowledge and from allowing student agency and participation in the co-construction of knowledge is that students are alerted to the fluid, situated, relativized and (dis)located nature of knowledge. This in itself is very important in helping students appreciate their own role and agency in the shaping of knowledge and meaning. Being thus empowered socially, instead of being spoon-fed with ‘syllabus’ content, is an important benefit for their (higher) education. Students become the makers of content. Indeed, as noted in Coyle et al. (2010), ‘CLIL is not about the transfer of knowledge from an expert to a novice’ (p. 54). For my students, content knowledge actually means content knowledge production (Peters & Roberts, 2012), the way they collaborate to create knowledge incrementally through a democratic and participatory mode of generating knowledge (Coyle, et al., 2008). Instead of the traditional Japanese way of being fed with a quantum of fixed or prescribed content to be memorized and regurgitated (van Wolferen, 1993), students become aware that their subjectivities and realities are an integral part of that content. Such an approach opens the way for students to look further afield beyond their own insularity (van Wolferen, 1993) by becoming more conscious of the ways students from other parts of the world would construct or co-construct their own cultural meanings. Thus empowered, students are positioned to look at topics and themes about multiculturalism in a broader and more critical way that any student in higher education should rightly be doing.

Benefits for English language teaching
In terms of integrating the above benefits with English language teaching, a dynamic view of content knowledge encourages teachers to emphasize the role of language in helping students shape and negotiate new meanings as well as in facilitating their engagement with diverse perspectives and possibilities in the texts that they read or create (Christie & Derewianka, 2008). Students also benefit from deeper levels of what Mehisto et al. (2008) call metalinguistic awareness, in their ability to become skilled English language users. They become more sensitive to word choices and nuances towards becoming successful communicators. In this way, ELT goes from being more than a matter of skills like reading, writing, speaking and listening (Holliday, 2005), or vocabulary or atomized grammar and structure (Lea & Street, 2000), towards becoming a matter of action and interaction for the creation and shaping of meaning (Christie & Derewianka, 2008). Very importantly, the creation and shaping of meaning is not just an exercise involving individual students deciphering the ‘meaning’ of written text (i.e. reading ‘comprehension passages’) but more about teachers and students being jointly empowered through the drafting, crafting and negotiation of text, context and language (Christie & Derewianka, 2008; Prior, 1998).

In my own experience, students have become more aware of the creative and evocative potential of language and (they better understand) that the way different cultural subjectivities are realized through language is not something innocent or neutral (see discussion on Japanese-Brazilians and Ryukyuans below). Moreover, through the dynamic and interactive processes of teacher-student negotiation, students are encouraged to become more aware of the language choices they make (depending on occasion, context, nuances, social behaviors etc.). They also learn to appreciate the language choices others make (fellow classmates, authors of books, etc.), and the overall effects of these choices on the quality of communication. English classes become more interesting and meaningful for students.

Practical steps and classroom illustrations
In terms of the day-to-day operationalizing of my seminar in Multicultural Studies, I have found that storytelling provides a powerful approach to integrating content and language.

By storytelling, I refer to a specific approach to constructing and re-constructing cultural experiences (Bueno & Caesar, 2003; Kubota & Fujimoto, 2013; Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) that authenticates the reality of individual cultural experiences and histories. Following a pedagogy of (dis)location (Edwards & Usher, 2008), the creation and uptake of knowledge takes place not so much through ‘authoritative transmission of canonical bodies of knowledge’ (p. 103) but through stories that are appropriated in the lives of students and teachers alongside the readings they engage with. The telling and re-telling of stories has been used to re-create experiences of a racial and cultural nature (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002). Drawing on storytelling and joint negotiation of meanings, my students and I work together to compose, compare and contrast cultural experiences.

For me, the highlight of these dynamic classroom interactions is how the issues highlighted in the stories can spawn deeper inquiry and critical reflection, ultimately to be realized in the students’ compositions, journal reflections and extended projects. The valuing of individual experiences is a way of building greater confidence among students because their stories are heard and valued. This in turn provides a useful path towards greater student autonomy (Marsh, et al., 2010) as students become absorbed in classroom discussions that ‘engage both individual thinking and dialogue about the subject’ (Coyle, et al., 2010, p. 97) while applying themes and ideas to themselves.

Instances of student engagement
A third-year student shared his experience growing up in Yokosuka, where the American navy has a base. This student related how Yokosuka has all along been a colorful place famous for its American-influenced cuisine, and in particular, a large and meaty version of the hamburger known as the Navy Burger. This student’s sharing generated discussions on Yokosuka’s unique character as a Japanese town with a colorful history of cultural confluences, leading to deeper probes into other cities like Nagasaki, for example, with its rich history of contact with Asian and European traders and missionaries, realized in both hybridized cuisines demonstrating Chinese and Portuguese influence, for example, and inspiring architectural designs.

Building on the momentum, another student related how his father and grandmother strongly valued their Ryukyuan origins. He noted that the Ryukyu region (broadly referred to as Okinawa in daily parlance) was not part of Japan until the latter part of the nineteenth century. This student related in class how his father and grandmother speak a distinct variety of Ryukyuan (there are different varieties of Ryukuyan), which is very different from Japanese. He also described Ryukyuan cuisine with its liking for pork and bitter gourd, Ryukyuan architecture, especially roofing and roof-tiling which has its own style very different from that of mainland Japan, and Ryukyuan musical instruments tracing their origins to ancient China.

Students’ compositions and projects
Final year students are encouraged to write a graduation thesis in an area of their choice. The writing of the graduation thesis is supervised by seminar teachers like me. A fourth year student in my seminar decided to base her research for her graduation thesis (卒業論文) on qualitative data that she gathered on the life of a young Brazilian-Japanese immigrant from Brazil, set in Gunma Prefecture (Suto, 2013). Gunma Prefecture, about two hours from Tokyo, has a large population of Brazilian-Japanese descended from their Japanese forebears who migrated to Brazil in the early 1900’s. Their descendants were allowed to return to Japan during the time of Japan’s economic boom to meet labor shortages. Brazilian shops, restaurants and supermarkets can be found in suburban areas of Gunma, giving the prefecture a distinctive feel. In her research, Suto (2013) conducted structured interviews with Maralyce, who was born in Brazil and came to Japan as a child. Her father was a Brazilian while her mother was a third-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent. The research yielded valuable findings highlighting schooling problems not commonly discussed, and covering matters to do with language education of migrant children and cultural differences including issues like the bullying of children of a different ethnicity. Throughout the process of drafting and editing the thesis, this student became more aware of the nuances of language and word choices (Mehisto, et al., 2008), especially in the ways cultural phenomena like migration, ethnicity and displacement are represented.

Another positive experience for me was when students came up to me during consultation time for their seminar term essays (ゼミ論). Two students expressed interest in doing research on the theme of family origins. One student wanted to do a study on the historical and cultural origins of his family name, from which he learnt that his family probably came from Aomori Prefecture in the northern part of Honshu. Another wanted to research immigrants from the Korean peninsula, from where his grandfather came, telling me that the atmosphere of openness to different cultural experiences and subjectivities fostered during seminar time was why he felt confident enough to reveal this normally secret bit of information. As noted in Lee (2006), Zainichi Koreans, as these descendants are commonly called, often prefer not to freely reveal this aspect of their ancestry. I was particularly gratified that by following Edwards and Usher (2008), I had adopted a more dynamic and diasporic approach to content knowledge, one that fitted in well with my seminar. Like these two students, other students in the seminar also began to show an interest in appropriating and ‘manipulating content … relevant to their lives’ (Mehisto, et al., 2008, p. 21).

Moreover, through classroom discussions and dynamic co-production of knowledge, students became aware of the role of language in the shaping of ideas, once again, a reminder of the way CLIL enhances metalinguistic awareness among learners (Mehisto, et al., 2008). Some, for example, came to realize that the use of a name like Ryukyu is not entirely neutral but carries with it deeper implications of earlier political history. Another term like Zainichi Koreans (literally in Japanese: Koreans residing in Japan) used in English (Lee, 2006) also attracts deeper scrutiny because of its historical and political epistemologies. When considering such terms, the students were encouraged to consider the implications for their use, even though their opinions and answers might have differed. Through exposure to such issues, they became more aware of how language can either be used more inclusively or exclusively to embrace or to marginalize. In this connection, students and I continued to strive to be conscious of the ways words like ‘foreigner’ or ‘alien’ (Lee, 2006) could be used, however inadvertently, to mean some who is an ‘outsider’ and thus as a means of excluding. Hopefully, these same students would become even more empathetic as they become more sensitized to issues concerning multiculturalism and the way these are expressed in language.

Student feedback
In terms of feedback which came in the form of journal reflections (感想文), student responses showed their appreciation at being exposed to more dynamic conceptualizations of content knowledge and the way such knowledge is represented in language. Earlier feedback had a tendency towards being more tentative. Students started off being unsure about the opportunities given to them to express their opinions on language and culture or to explore and expand on their areas of interest concerning culture and community. Some also showed a lack of awareness of aspects of cultural diversity, expressing surprise at the existence of hybridized identities, for example, students candidly confessing their own lack of knowledge of the existence of Japanese-Americans or Brazilian-Japanese (these terms were also discussed for their nuances, again with differing opinions). Subsequent feedback showed deeper acceptance of the presence of these hybridities and concentrated more on the desire to learn more about multiculturalism and its potential to enrich society as well as their own communities. Some students even expressed interest in doing more research on the benefits of embracing more multicultural worldviews and subjectivities, while others indicated that they wanted to make new friends from different cultures or to do more traveling, googling or blogging in these areas.

Another strand of thought emerging from the feedback was the way that students became more readily accepting (or appreciative and respectful) of the variations that they found in their own personal and communal narratives as opposed to the more homogenizing or totalizing narratives characterized by nihonjinron tenets. A student from Saitama started to take an interest in her own prefecture. Her journal reflection highlighted a deeper appreciation for the local dialect called Saitama-ben, or Chichibu-ben, the murasaki-imo, a rich-tasting sweet potato that the prefecture is known for, as well as a well-preserved town from the Edo period in Kawagoe. As a sportsperson, this student also made mention of Saitama’s football stadium that hosted World Cup matches in 2002.

The student who did his seminar term essay (ゼミ論) on Zainichi Koreans gave positive feedback about his experience going to Shin Okubo, suburb in Tokyo where there is a large concentration of Zainkchi Koreans, as part of gathering ideas and inspiration for his research. He also interviewed his mother on her experiences growing up in Japan as a second generation Zainichi Korean while also acknowledging his grandfather’s refusal to be interviewed in depth for the assignment, for reasons to do with his difficult past. As an indicator of his appreciation for the openness to diasporic understandings of Zainichi Korean subjectivities, this student eventually decided to base his graduation thesis (卒業論文) on the same topic. This entailed more visits to Shin Okubo to study the occurrences of signage in the Korean language and a second attempt at interviewing his grandfather.

From my own praxis of action and reflection (Freire, 2000), the conclusion I have come to is that it would be extremely difficult to discuss a topic like multicultural studies without a pedagogy that affirms dynamic views of knowledge integrated with an understanding of language in a way that is sensitive to the diversities of human and social relations. The reason for this, as I have noted, is that Japan has been thought of and written about as a monocultural and monoracial nation, all the more reinforced by nihonjinron beliefs in the homogeneity and uniqueness of Japanese bloodlines (Befu, 2001). What the combination of CLIL with a pedagogy of (dis)location has done, in opposition to this, is to introduce into the matter of multiculturalism a lively localized dimension that values a myriad of new possibilities while giving voice to individual people like my students. From the viewpoint of both performance evidence as well as affective evidence (Coyle et al., 2010), my students have benefited from broader and more inclusive views of knowledge and a dimension of English language learning that allows them to appreciate language as a dexterous tool for the expression of meaning.

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Befu, H. (2006). Conditions of living together (kyosei). In S. Lee, Murphy-Shigematsu & H. Befu (Eds.), Japan’s diversity dilemmas: Ethnicity, citizenship and education (pp. 1-10). New York, NY: iUniverse.

Bueno, E., & Caesar, T. (Eds.). (2003). I wouldn’t want anybody to know: Native English teaching in Japan. Tokyo: JPGS Press.

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About the Author
toh_2Glenn Toh teaches English for Academic Purposes and English as a Foreign Language at the Faculty of Humanities in Tamagawa University in Tokyo, Japan. He has taught EAP, ESP, as well as courses in TESOL teacher training in Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

CLIL in ELT: A Personal Note from the Special Editor

by David Marsh
University of Jyväskylä,

ELT is being buffeted by a set of at least ten forces, sometimes simultaneously and with differing degrees of energy, across all sectors from pre-school to higher education.

These forces include the:

  • ELT industries and the political forces alongside which they operate
  • ELT testing and accreditation industry and the political forces alongside which it operates
  • ELT professional associations, networks and organizations
  • Educational technology-driven sector
  • Political entities that demand improvement in English language learning outcomes within a given country or region
  • Citizens and members of communities that demand access to quality English language learning for their children and young people
  • Employers requiring higher levels of English language competence of staff
  • Research sectors on language learning from within the neurosciences and other domains
  • Higher education, vocational education training and other providers requiring higher levels of English language competence of incoming students
  • Educational experts and entities focused on educational transformation across the curriculum, including the teaching and learning of English.

There is a high degree of convergence among these forces which impacts on countries and regions in different ways. What happens in one sector (such as primary level ELT) has a ripple effect on another (such as higher education ELT). Some of this impact is not necessarily conducive to timely change, and results in undue drag and turbulence, but there are examples of innovation and progress.

These forces impact on both the teaching of English as a subject, and the use of English as the medium of instruction in higher education. Countries differ widely with respect to the position of English, but there are some challenges which are widespread. Some examples of these are presented below:

  • The English language curriculum in school-based education is not sufficiently competence-based. Not enough students have the study skills and other competences on graduation to use English in higher education or workplace contexts. Thus, the transition from school to tertiary level or equivalent requires remedial English language teaching intervention that is costly, time-consuming, and demotivating.
  • This links to the testing and accreditation industry that often acts as a major gatekeeper in transitional phases of ELT. In relation to 21st Century knowledge and competence-needs, some major tests perpetuate valuing what is measured instead of measuring what should be valued.
  • Some ELT professional associations have remained in a longstanding comfort zone resulting in little substantial development since the major paradigm shift in the 1970s towards communicative language teaching. In ELT contexts this condition has been steadily undermined by the younger generation itself. The issue is about authenticity. It is not about communicative ELT methodologies. It is about scope and purpose. Why simulate when teaching and learning can be real-time and genuine?
  • School-based education has not kept up with the ways in which technology permeates the lives of young people. For too long emphasis has been on investment and procurement, and training teachers to use technologies in the classroom. It has neglected the potential for progress by encouraging young people to utilize their existing digital autonomy and skills in using technology to support learning.
  • Politics often play a key role in steering the direction of ELT. Those in politics often operate within a limited time-span with associated budgetary constraints. They may enable decisions to be made about education that do not reflect the insights, experience and knowledge of key players in the field including educators and management. In some cases these decisions may be based on striking against the proliferation of English language itself in order to buffer other non-related socio-political interests. In other words, objectives may be detached from realities.
  • There is a powerful demand for quality ELT from citizens and communities which impacts all of the above. It is being further boosted by increasing recognition that bi-literacy brings positive impact to an individual, especially in relation to mind and brain.
  • This has driven interest in having students both learn English, and learn other subjects, or parts of subjects, through English. This is often referred to as English Medium Instruction (EMI). EMI requires adaptation of teaching and learning methodologies, particularly if these have been originally developed for monolingual education. The purpose-designed methodological approach, specifically for students learning content through English as an additional language, is called Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).

The challenge throughout ELT is one of disjuncture. There is a lack of convergence between and across these forces. Lack of convergence results in even the finest schools and teachers, and the most confident and motivated young people, not being able to realize their full potential in English language by the time they leave school.

Higher education is one piece of the jigsaw. In some countries, universities have been teaching through English as an additional language for many years, and doing it to a high level of excellence. In others there has been recent pressure to rapidly adopt English as the medium of instruction for programmes involving staff and students who are required to use English as an additional language. The major problem is not only related to levels of fluency in English of staff and students alike. It is also about higher education methodologies and understanding of the complex discipline-specific demands of thinking and learning which students face in programmes. Even students graduating from school in monolingual contexts face challenges when embarking on studies at university. When studying through English as an additional language, the skills and demands are considerably different and often greater. However, there can also be substantial rewards.

The articles in this issue of ELTWO address issues now being faced in higher education. Focusing on aspects of both EMI and CLIL the set of 8 articles reveal differing ways in which changing the language of instruction impacts on faculty, students and programme development. In so doing they reveal pressures, and opportunities for development in higher education, which link back to how earlier experience of ELT has played out in school-based education in the country contexts.

This issue of ELTWO comes at a time when there is a dearth of published research into EMI and CLIL at university level globally. There has been much discussion on the failure of schools to prepare students for higher education studies in English, and the Foundation Year dilemma. Articles on the importance of increasing levels of language teaching, diversifying methods, refining the concept of English for Special Purposes, amongst others, have been plentiful.

But there has been a scarcity of those that look at the issue of EMI in an integrated way; those that consider the language, the content taught, and the thinking skills required to learn the content through the language, and the language through the content. Drawing on experience from Austria, France, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, the authors contribute to a global discussion now underway within higher education. This involves a range of stakeholders, ELT, other discipline and educational technology specialists, higher education administrators and political entities, assessment and accreditation bodies, and students themselves.

In this period of rapid change in higher education globally, EMI is one card on the table. To implement EMI successfully involves consideration of CLIL. It is the relationship between what we do (introducing programmes in English) alongside how we do it (adapting parallel ELT provision and developing language-supportive approaches to teaching and learning content subjects).

It is an honour to have been involved with the editors of this issue of the ELTWO and the authors of the chapters, and to have been able to engage with you the reader.

David Marsh,
April 2015

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About the Author
David Marsh blog
David Marsh, Ph.D., Hon.D., is author of The CLIL Trajectory: Educational Innovation for the 21st Century iGeneration, Córdoba Academic Press, 2013, lead author of The Higher Education English Language Landscape, VIU 2011, and co-author of Content and Language Integrated Learning, Cambridge University Press, 2010.