Using language(s) to develop subject competences in CLIL-based practice

Phil Ball


This article documents and analyses the shift
in emphasis that has taken place in CLIL and
other forms of multilingual educational practice,
where priorities seem to be placing a welcome
importance on the use of language as a transversal
element in the development of the range
of subject competences that constitute the school
curriculum. CLIL has also changed from being a
methodology to help teachers support learner development
in the particular discourse field of an
academic subject to a more inclusive paradigm
which has attracted the attention of languageteaching
practitioners. The elusive notion of what
constitutes ‘content’ is therefore more important
to clear up than ever, since both subject and language
teachers are concerned with its shape and
its characteristics, and of understanding its distinct
types. This article offers the idea of content as
three-dimensional, of which language is a crucial
component, arriving at the inevitable conclusion
that language is the only true transversal element
which unites the diversity of subject competences,
just as long as its use remains subservient to
procedural (competence-based) aims. This is the
new single focus of CLIL.

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