Teachers’ attitudes, perceptions and experiences in CLIL: A look at content and language

Jermaine S. McDougald


This paper is a preliminary report on the “CLIL State-of-the-Art” project in Colombia, drawing on data collected from 140 teachers’ regarding their attitudes toward, perceptions of and experiences with CLIL (content and language integrated learning). The term CLIL is used here to refer to teaching contexts in which a foreign language (in these cases, English) is the medium for the teaching and learning of non-language subjects. The data that has been gathered thus far reveals that while teachers presently know very little about CLIL, they are nevertheless actively seeking informal and formal instruction on CLIL. Many of the surveyed teachers are currently teaching content areas through English; approximately half of them reported having had positive experiences teaching content and language together, though the remainder claimed to lack sufficient knowledge in content areas. Almost all of the participants agreed that the CLIL approach can benefit students, helping them develop both language skills and subject knowledge (meaningful communication). However, there is still considerable uncertainty as to the actual state-of-the-art of CLIL in Colombia; greater clarity here will enable educators and decision-makers to make sound decisions for the future of general and language education. 


CLIL; content & language, bilingual education, teacher beliefs.

Full Text:



Adams, A. and Cox, A. (2008) Questionnaire, in-depth interviews and focus groups. In Cairns, Paul, and Cox, Anna L. eds. Research Methods for Human Computer Interaction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp 17-34. Retrieved from https://wiki.engr.illinois.edu/download/attachments/195760983/adams-cox-qualitative-methods.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=1358139440000

Brinton, D. M., Snow, M. A., & Wesche, M. B. (2006). Content-based second language instruction. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (Original work published 1989)

Banegas, D. L. (2012). CLIL teacher development: Challenges and experiences. Latin American Journal of Content & Language Integrated Learning, 5(1), 46-56. doi:10.5294/laclil.2012.58.1.4 ISSN 2011-6721

Coyle, D, Hood, P & Marsh, D. (2010). CLIL: Content and language integrated learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Cross, R. and Gearson, M. (2013) Research and Evaluation of the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Approach to Teaching and Learning Languages in Victorian Schools. Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Retrieved online from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/curriculum/Pages/clilvictoria.aspx

Check, J. & Schutt, R. (2012) Research methods in Education. University of Massachusetts, Boston. SAGE Publication, Inc. retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/43589_8.pdf

Curtis, A. (2012). Colombian teachers’ questions about CLIL: What can teachers’ questions tell us? (Part II). Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning, 5(2), 1-12. doi:10.5294/laclil.2012.5.2.6 ISSN 2011-6721.

Darn, S. (2012). CLIL – Content and Integrated Language Learning. [PowerPoint slides] Retrieved from http://www.istitutogentili.it/clil/CLIL_M1_U1.pdf

Eurydice, European Union Directorate-General for Education and Culture. (2006). Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) at School in Europe. Brussels: Eurydice European Unit. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/languages/documents/studies/clil-at-school-in-europe_en.pdf

Fricker, R.D. & Schonlau, M. (2002) Advantages and disadvantages of internet research surveys: Evidence from the literature. Field Methods, Vol. 14 No. 4, 347-367. doi: 10.1177/152582202237725.

Grabe, W., & Stoller, F. L. (1997). Content-based instruction: Research foundations. In M. A. Snow, & D. M. Brinton (Eds.), The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content (pp. 5–21). NY: Longman.

Graddol, D. (2005, April 20). Spoken everywhere but at what cost? Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2005/apr/20/guardianweekly.guardianweekly11

Habte-Gaber, E. (2009). Maintaining Professional Identity in CLIL. Humanising Language Teaching, 11(5). Retrieved from http://www.hltmag.co.uk/oct09/sart10.htm

Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning, LACLIL (2013). Policies: Focus and Scope. Retrieved online from http://laclil.unisabana.edu.co/index.php/LACLIL/about/editorialPolicies#focusAndScope

Marsh, D. (2006). Using languages to learn and learning to use languages. Retrieved from http://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/clilmatrix/pdf/1UK.pdf

Marsh, D., Mehisto, P., Wolff, D., Frigols Martín, M. J. (2011), European Framework for CLIL Teacher Education. A Framework for the Professional Development of CLIL Teachers, http://www.ecml.at/tabid/277/PublicationID/62/Default.aspx

Massler, U. (2012) Primary CLIL and its stakeholders: What children, parents and teachers think of the potential merits and pitfalls of CLIL modules in primary teaching. International CLIL Research Journal, Vol 1 (4), 36-46.

McDougald, J. S. (2009). The state of language and content instruction in Colombia. Latin American Journal of Content & Language Integrated Learning, 2(2), 44-48. doi:10.5294/laclil.2009.2.2.15.

Mehisto, P. (2008). CLIL counterweights: Recognizing and decreasing disjuncture in CLIL. International CLIL Research Journal, 1(1), 93-119.

Mehisto, P. & Asser, H. (2007). Stakeholder perspectives: CLIL programme management in

Estonia. Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 10(5), 683-701.

Ministerio de Educación Nacional, MEN (2009) Establecimientos Clasificados en Libertad Regulada, que Certifican ante la Secretaría de Educación Ofrecer Educación Bilingüe, y ofrecen Jornada Completa 2009. Retrieved online from http://www.colombiaaprende.edu.co/html/home/1592/article-228186.html

Nikula, T. and Marsh, D. (1996). Kartoitus vieraskielisen opetuksen tarjonnasta peruskouluissa ja lukioissa. Helsinki: Opetushallitus. (Available in English as Language and Content Instruction in the Finnish Primary and Secondary Sectors, Workplace Communication, Continuing Education Centre, University of Jyväskylä, Finland).

Pena Diaz, C. and Porto Requejo, M.D. (2008) Teacher beliefs in a CLIL education project. Porta Linguarum, 10, 151-161.

Rodriguez, M.B. (2011) CLILL: Colombia Leading Into Content Language Learning. Íkala, Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, Vol. 16, No. 28, 79-89.

Ruiz-Garrido, Miguel F. y Fortanet-Gómez, I. (2009) “Needs Analysis in a CLIL Context: A Transfer from ESP” in D. Marsh, P. Mehisto, D. Wolff, R. Aliaga, T. Asikainen, M.J. Frigols-Martin, S. Hughes y G. Langé (eds.) CLIL Practice Perspectives from the Field. CCN: University of Jyväskylä (Finland). pp. 179-188.

Savic, V. (2010) Are we ready for implementing CLIL in Primary language classrooms? British Council Serbia ELTA Newsletter, May. Retrieved from http://www.britishcouncil.org/ro/serbia-elta-newsletter-2010-may.htm

Secretaria de Educación de Bogotá, SED (2012) Legalización de colegios bilingües Instituciones de educación formal oficiales y privadas. Retrieved online from: http://www.sedbogota.edu.co/archivos/Temas%20estrategicos/Inspeccion/2012/abril/orientaciones%20legalizacion%20colegios%20bilingues.pdf

Snow, M. A & Brinton, D. M. (Eds.) (1997). The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content. NY: Longman.

Yassin, S.M., Marsh, D., Tek O.E., and Ying, L.Y. (2009). Learners’ Perceptions towards the Teaching of Science through English in Malaysia: A Quantitative Analysis. International CLIL Research Journal, 1(2), 54-69. Retrieved from http://www.icrj.eu/12/article6.html

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14483/udistrital.jour.calj.2015.1.a02

Copyright (c) 2015 Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal