Although the concept of ‘Content and language integrated learning’ (CLIL) was first used in the context of Europe in 1994 (Marsh 2012: 1), in one form or another it has been around since at least the 1980s and even before, in Canadian immersion courses of the mid 1960s (Baker and Jones 1998). What is interesting in the initial spread of the concept of ‘immersion’ is that it started from the bottom up, which also accounts for the enormous success of similar programmes. In 1965, a group of English-speaking parents living in the French territory of Quebec, Canada, suggested that an educational kindergarten programme for their children be established that would give these children the opportunity (a) to become competent to speak, read and write in French, (b) to reach normal achievement levels throughout the curriculum, including the English language and (c) to appreciate the traditions and culture of French-speaking as well as English-speaking Canadians (Baker 2006: 245). These same principles of combining language learning, subject learning and intercultural competence are part and parcel of what we understand today as CLIL. RPLTL is very happy and, indeed, proud, to devote a two-volume Special Issue on this subject.
The Special Issue is divided into two parts, or volumes. The first volume is concerned with the presentation of the CLIL model as an innovative way of engaging learners with both the content they are interested in and English language use and learning, while at the same time making them aware of the plurilingual character of modern-day communication. The papers presented in this first volume make clear cases for the promotion of CLIL as a way of enhancing autonomous learning (cf. the paper by van de Craen and Surmont), through exposing learners to authentic learning situations (Bakić-Mirić and Erkinovich Gaipov) and accounting for different learning styles (Anastasiadou and Iliopoulou). Of equal interest and importance is the discussion of different aspects of CLIL, for example, the cultural dimension and the ‘gift’ of plurilingualism (Furlong and Bernaus), the central issue of assessment (Zafiri and Zouganeli), as well as concerns for teacher collaboration and planning (Iskos and Ralls), teacher education (Mathaioudakis and Alexiou) and, needless to say, teacher professional development through CLIL instruction (Spratt).
In the second part of the Special Issue, the guest editors have invited teachers who have worked with various CLIL implementations to share their perspectives and experiences from these implementations. This entire volume is a case for formally introducing CLIL in the Greek primary and secondary educational context. The first section of this volume is concerned with comprehensive descriptions of CLIL-related projects that show the already extensive integration of the CLIL methodology in such contexts. For example, readers are able to see, among other fascinating accounts, how school subjects like history, geography and art can be seamlessly integrated with the teaching and learning of English to 6th graders (Korosidou and Deligianni), or how English language teaching and learning can be boosted through the subject of physical education (Emmanouilidou and Laskaridou). The second section goes on to present briefer first-hand descriptions of CLIL implementations by the very teachers who implemented them. The volume is choke-full of practical ideas and suggestions for integrating CLIL in different contexts—but what is also exciting is the holistic Editorial / Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning 1 (2010) 4-6 5 account provided by the contributors, which sheds light not only to the strengths and advantages of CLIL in each separate case but also to the obstacles and problems they
encountered in their implementation of the CLIL framework.
The Special Issue is dedicated to the loving memory of our dear friend and colleague, and member of RPLTL’s editorial board, Aikaterini (Keti) Zouganeli.
Nicos C. Sifakis
Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of Bilingual education and Bilingualism. (4th edition). Clevedon: Multiligual Matters.
Baker, C. & Jones, S. P. (1998). Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Marsh, D. (2012). Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). A Development Trajectory. Córdoba: University of Córdoba.