This paper examines the spread of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) through a number of lenses. It argues that the supporters and promoters of CLIL position it as a near-panacea and attribute to it a large number of benefits, not all of which are supported by research. Looking at the issues arising from recent attempts to define CLIL, the paper proposes a distinction between weak and strong CLIL. The paper points to the lacunae in the research into CLIL, and suggests that these gaps are the result of educational policies that privilege a second language over other curricular subjects. Looking at the contexts where CLIL seems to succeed, as well as places where such teaching has been acknowledged to fail, it emerges that success is often connected to a high level of student selection on a number of criteria, as well as a high level of investment in teachers and teaching, and that CLIL often privileges those students who are already high achievers both in language and content. The paper then looks at the way in which the spread of CLIL policies can be understood through theories of policy borrowing and educational transfer.
About the author
Amos Paran is Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London. He started his career as an EFL teacher in secondary schools in Israel and has since worked as a materials writer and teacher trainer in a variety of international contexts. His main research interests are reading in EFL and the use of literature in language teaching. He is editor of Literature in language learning and teaching (TESOL, 2006) and co-editor, with Lies Sercu, of Testing the untestable in language education (Multilingual Matters, 2010).
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