1) Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Aberdeen
Unit of AssessmentEducation
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Summary of the impact
Research carried out by the University of Aberdeen has made a significant
contribution to understanding successful practice in teaching a foreign
language while at the same time using it as a medium of instruction for a
non-linguistic subject, such as History. Coyle's research findings, now
used in education policies and guidelines and applied widely in teacher
training across the world — especially in Europe, Australia, and Sri
Lanka, give teachers a unified approach that supports students in learning
both language and subject-matter simultaneously. New and developing tools
based on the research have been adopted widely by schools nationally and
In the 1990s, a new approach to teaching languages alongside academic
subjects — an alternative to immersion, became popular in Europe and
subsequently across the world. Content and Integrated Language Learning
(CLIL) involves teaching a subject like Geography through the medium of a
foreign language. This has various benefits: it is an efficient way for
students to gain knowledge of two disciplines; it enables them to use
language relevant to the subject; it stimulates cognitive development; and
it helps them communicate through other cultures.
Do Coyle, Professor in Learning Innovation at the University of Aberdeen
since 2008, an early CLIL pioneer, is now a leading authority in this
field. The problem with early CLIL was that teachers borrowed their
approaches either from language or subject teaching. Coyle's research at
Aberdeen continually develops an innovative unified approach which enables
both subject and language teachers to plan, execute and evaluate lessons
so learners gain new language skills and new subject matter
Coyle's grant (Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, 2009-2011) led to researching
CLIL in Britain across 11 schools. Classroom observations and reports from
23 teachers and over 650 students helped her to emphasise pupils' views of
`successful learning' in CLIL [3.5], investigating the conditions needed
for learners to sustain motivation and engagement, using her "Four Cs
Framework" (4CF) — the four Cs being Content, Communication, Cognition and
Culture [3.3]. Coyle's work on Culture, stresses ways in which additional
benefits for CLIL students arise from learning their national curriculum
through the lens of other cultures [3.1, 3.2]. For example, by analysing
original foreign language documents to provide alternative perspectives
and challenge thinking.
Since 2008, new work on the Communication `C' of the 4Cs has been
published. The Language Triptych (2010) [3.4] is a conceptual tool that
helps teachers and learners identify three types of language needed for
effective CLIL: language related to understanding the subject; functional
language for carrying out learning tasks; and new language likely to arise
according to individual learner needs during this process. The Triptych
encourages teachers to help students use new language, rather than
learn vocabulary in isolation.
In 2008, Coyle created a database of videoed lessons uploaded by CLIL
teachers (Esmée Fairbairn grant). These data have developed into a
collaborative digital repository and resource used increasingly by
teachers and students for analysing their own classroom practice through
the web-based tool — LOCIT (Learning-Oriented Critical Incident Technique)
[3.6]. The impact of teacher-pupil analysis of videoed lessons by
selecting and comparing "learning moments", leads to deep discussions
between teachers and learners about how future learning might be
organised. This approach to learning can motivate learners of all
abilities through talking about their own learning [3.6].
Since 2012, Coyle's research under the aegis of the Council of Europe in
a five-nation study is testing out a new model for literacy development
across more than one language (pluriliteracies) based on 4CF. This,
combined with her work as a policy adviser and teacher trainer, involves
current work with over 50 schools in five countries.
References to the research
[3.1] Coyle, D. (2009). Promoting cultural diversity through
intercultural understanding: a case study of CLIL professional development
at in-service and pre-service levels. In Carrio-Pastor (Ed) Linguistic
Insights Studies in Language and Communication Number 92, Bern:
Peter Lang pp 105-124.
[3.2] Coyle, D. (2010). Chapter 3, Language Pedagogies Revisited:
alternative approaches for integrating language learning, language using
and intercultural understanding. In Miller, J., Kostogriz, A and Gearon, M
(Eds)', Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms: New Dilemmas
for Teachers Ontario: Multilingual Matters.
[3.3] Coyle, D., Hood, P. and Marsh, D. (2010). Content and Language
Integrated Learning, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The book
was one of three finalists for the Ben Warren Book Prize (2011). Chapters
3 and 4 are authored by Coyle and are used extensively across the world as
key texts in teacher training.
[3.4] Coyle, D. (2011). Post-method pedagogies: using a second or other
language as a learning tool in CLIL settings. In Zarobe, Y.R.; Sierra,
J.M., and Puerto, F.G.(Eds), Content and Foreign Language Integrated
Learning: Contributions to Multilingualism in European Contexts.
Bern: Peter Lang. Awarded the XV Research Award of the Spanish Association
of Applied Linguistics (XV Premio de Investigación AESLA. Categoría:
Investigadores Experimentados) in May 2012.
[3.6] Coyle, D. (2013). Listening to learners: an investigation into
`successful learning' across CLIL contexts. International Journal of
Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(3), pp 244-266.
Coyle: Student Gains in Content and Language Integrated Learning:
New Approaches to Learning. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 2009-2011. £59,950.
Coyle/Meyer (Germany): Literacies through Content and Language Integrated
Learning: effective learning across subjects & languages. Council of
Europe: European Centre for Modern Languages, Graz, 2013-2015. 95,000
Details of the impact
As Content and Integrated Language Learning rapidly expands, Coyle's work
at Aberdeen has had a major influence — both nationally and
internationally — on education policies and guidelines, teacher training,
and the classroom experience of teachers and learners.
In 2008, Coyle presented her findings as a keynote speaker at the
high-profile EU Presidency Conference in Luxembourg to top level policy
makers, educationalists and stakeholders from all EU nations. She
co-authored the DES 2009 UK National Guidelines for CLIL [5.1a] to provide
an authoritative source of guidance for teachers [5.1b]. In 2011, the
Scottish Government's Modern Languages Excellence Group used a school case
study based on Coyle's 4CF to illustrate the successful classroom practice
and praised it as promoting young people's ability "to use and enjoy the
language effectively... for a range of relevant purposes... throughout
their life." [5.2]. In March 2011, the Times Educational Supplement
featured a school from the Esmée Fairbairn research project.
The 4CF has been refined since 2008, focussing on language for
higher-order thinking and cultural implications for literacy skills,
taking into account the learners' views of learning. It is widely adopted
internationally, especially since the publication of Coyle's seminal
(co-authored) 2010 book, Content and Language Integrated Learning
[3.3]. For example, in 2009-10, the Education Council for Francophone
Belgium trained over 30 teacher trainers in 4CF [5.3], now impacting on
over 270 schools. In 2011, Coyle acted as advisor to the Quatar Ministry
and the Flemish Ministry of Education, Belgium, [5.8] and is advising the
Sri Lankan Ministry of Education in using 4CF in the World Bank-funded
2012-2014 reform of the national bilingual education policy involving
4,895 teachers [5.4].
Since 2008, 4CF and its conceptual tools have impacted on the training of
thousands of teachers with professional organisations across the world
regularly access exemplar 4CF materials: in 2009-10, through Skype
master-classes and on-line resources for Language Teacher Associations in
Victoria [5.6]; and in 2011 in Madrid and Lombardy, reaching 100s of
teachers on each occasion. She has shared her work with delegates at over
30 teacher conferences in Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, Qatar, Slovenia,
Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Estonia, as well as Ireland
and the UK. These contacts have led to specific professional development
opportunities for teachers. The Catalan Government and the British Council
jointly invested over one million pounds in bespoke CLIL teacher training
under Coyle's direction (2005-2010), publishing teacher-participant
resources on an open-access website [5.7].
Coyle's work is used extensively across professional networks: in the
European-funded CLIL Cascade Network (CCN), with teacher members from 18
countries; in the UK's Association for Language Learning, which launched a
CLIL teacher network (FLAME, January 2013) [5.5a] with Coyle as advisor;
and other professional associations such as the MLTAV in Australia [5.5b].
Her role on the Scottish Government Advisory Group ensured her CLIL
research informed the 2012 national Language Policy. As a result, all
trainee teachers in Aberdeen now have a CLIL experience in preparation for
transforming traditional language practice in their schools.
The International Schools in Geneva funded 25 teachers to undertake
Aberdeen's MA in PluriLingual Education. These teachers published their
own e-book of CLIL materials in Aberdeen for the International
Baccalaureate Organisation. In the UK, the significance of 4CF was
corroborated by school inspections: in 2012, Chenderit School was graded
"outstanding" by HMI (Schools) for CLIL student learning.
An unexpected but far-reaching impact of Coyle's work [3.5] is the LOCIT
digital tool and repository described above. This now contains data from
50 schools across five countries. In 2011, remote primary schools on the
Isle of Skye used LOCIT collaboratively to self-analyse classes taught in
Gaelic. One teacher commented: It let the children become part of our
learning together in ways I wouldn't have believed. LOCIT evidence
is also used as training material for CLIL teachers. And its impact is
spreading: the Scottish Government is funding (2013-2015) a national pilot
for LOCIT available to teachers in all subjects across three Local
Authorities. LOCIT was presented to the Duchess of Cornwall during her
2012 visit to Aberdeen.
Coyle's work continues to attract wide attention among professional
educators. Coyle et al.'s 2010 book [3.3] has sold over 11,000 copies and
reports from Academia.edu indicate over 40 online hits per month. The book
is used for teacher development workshops across the world, is a core
resource for Professional Development programmes and is on university
reading lists in the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.
It is integrated into the University of Cambridge's ESOL examination: Teaching
Knowledge Test for CLIL [5.9].
Sources to corroborate the impact
1. The National Guidelines were commissioned by the DEF and published on
the Languages Company website. These have been used to guide teacher
training in the UK and elsewhere including Australia. They were co-written
by Coyle, D., Holmes, B., and King, D. (2009) `Towards an Integrated
Curriculum — CLIL National Statement and Guidelines', The Languages
Company for DFE. http://www.languagescompany.com/resources.html
A practical example of the use of the National Guidelines to inform
teacher training/mentoring in CLIL can be found in the Links into
Languages:Professional Development for Teachers (DES) project on
`meaning-making' where the project leader teacher Katie Lee used the
guidelines as a resource for CLIL mentor training.
2. Corroboration from the Scottish Government's Modern Languages
Excellence Group — tasked to write a report which defines and illustrates
excellence in Modern Languages teaching and learning in Scotland. The
report used a school case study based on CLIL and the Language Triptych on
pages 36-37 and 12 & 13.
3. The Education Council for Francophone Belgium (Organe d' Observation
et d'Accompagnement de l'Enseignement Immersif de la Communauté de
Belgique) will corroborate the training of over 30 teacher trainers for
cascading to classroom teachers in using the 4CF and its tools.
4. The Ministry of Education for Bilingual Education, Sri Lanka has
provided a letter confirming the impact of 4CF and tools on an initiative
involving 3,475 teachers.
5. FLAME is an initiative led by the Association for Language
Learning to support the integration of language learning with other
curriculum subjects. FLAME will corroborate how Coyle's work is
being used in schools.
6. The Modern Languages Teacher Association of Victoria (MLTAV,
Australia) in Languages Connect, 2012, provides evidence of using
the 4CF and its tools in their teacher professional development workshops.
Over one thousand teachers accessed the webinar outlined on page 2 The
potential for introducing CLIL in Victorian Schools.
7. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development of
Victoria, Australia on the national FUSE website for Teacher Resources
features Coyle's presentation to modern languages teachers where she talks
about her research and provides the tools for teachers in 2012
8. The Catalan Ministry of Education, Barcelona has an open source
website where exemplar teaching materials can be accessed. The Ministry
will corrobrate the impact of Coyle's work on Catalan teachers and the
pupils in their schools. The following link provides exemplar lesson
materials by a primary Science teacher based on Coyle's pedagogic tools.
9. Dr.Katrien Mondt (convener) will corroborate Coyle's membership of the
Expert Advisory Committee convened for a "CLIL Reflection Day", by the
Strategic Policy Support Department (Strategische Beleidsondersteuning) of
the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training regarding their CLIL policy
10. The University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations are taken by over 3
million people a year, in over 130 countries. TKT: Content and
Language Integrated Learning examines professional knowledge for
English language teachers and subject teachers who use English as a medium
for teaching their curriculum subject. The Handbook for the Examination
sets out the syllabus. See page 6 for reference to 4CF.