Updated: May 28, 2021
If your child is already with FranceABC then we don’t need to tell you the benefits of learning French - you must already know they’re tenfold. But your burgeoning bilingual can only reap these rewards if they learn French well. We know this, and we’re sure you do too. That’s why we enact professional learning strategies and techniques to help foster growth. One of these is CLIL - or content language integrated learning. CLIL language learning is a well-known pedagogical approach that immerses your child entirely in their learning experience.
But, unless you’re a language teacher, CLIL language learning may be an entirely foreign concept. And while it sounds quite technical, understanding this teaching strategy is quite straightforward (even if enacting it isn’t always!). Here we’ll outline what CLIL language learning entails, how it works, and what you can do at home to continue this process.
What is CLIL?
It’s been said that all teachers are teachers of language. When your child is just learning language as a toddler, you use visual cues - toys, facial expressions, colours - to teach them what the meaning of the words you’re saying. Even as you speak around them, teach them things like how to get dressed and use the potty, they pick up grammatical rules and vocabulary unintentionally. The same happens in school. Think, for instance, of math. Teachers will say they’re going to teach multiplication that day and show an example of what that is. In that way, students learn what the word multiplication means. Similarly, reading books will help kids learn grammar by seeing constant examples of what proper grammar looks like.
So, the key for CLIL is in the name: content language integrated learning. In other words, we integrate French into lessons about educational content - food, for instance, or science. This is, in many ways, similar to what students would expect in a French immersion program at school. We use the language, paired with visual cues, to help teach a new subject to our students.
In other words, French is used to teach content and content is used to teach French.
How Does FranceABC Embrace CLIL Language Learning?
One look at our success stories will tell you that our students benefit most from the interactive atmosphere we create in our classrooms. This is due to our dedication to CLIL.
For instance, our science and history classes can be perfect for teaching the conditionnel tense. Discussing evolution helps us to imagine hypothetical futures while discussing the past. It also helps us to continue the curriculum that your students are getting at school. While they hear new or unfamiliar tenses being used in lessons, students naturally pick up the way that tenses and verb conjugation works.
Similarly, for our younger students, we use their favourite toys to encourage the students to immerse themselves in the experience. This becomes a way for students to move and physically interact with their lessons. Moreover, when children involve toys they learn the words for movement.
The content of each lesson decides the language and format to be used. This is an adaptive technique that keeps lessons interesting and new. Through flexible and interactive learning, students build their listening and reception skills while also improving upon their own focus and ability to communicate.
Embracing the 4Cs of Teaching
As part of CLIL language learning techniques, FranceABC focuses on the 4Cs of learning: content, cognition, communication, culture.
An example of enacting the 4Cs of learning is our restaurant unit in which our students learn valuable communication skills for daily interactions in French. These lessons not only teach them vocabulary suited for restaurants - food, utensils, etiquette, and so on - but also help them learn conjugation for formal and informal requests. These are ingrained in their vocabulary and skill set by role playing a restaurant scenario to offer interactive immersive education.
In this example, our students use and practice their communication skills in collaboration with one another while role playing to learn the content - vocabulary, conjugation, and daily interactions related to ordering and consuming food in a restaurant setting. In the process, they learn about popular French cuisine, enhancing their understanding of French culture. Overall, this practice encourages our students to explore their creativity while working on their cognition. That is, their understanding of abstract and concrete concepts, and making connections between these. By working with one another they can ask questions and help each other understand the content. This builds critical thinking skills and enables abstract and concrete concept comprehension.
Language learning then leaks into their education into new specific areas of knowledge, and towards expanding their awareness of and compassion for others’ perspectives, cultures, and experiences. Moreover, they learn how the language is used in day-to-day life - not just the grammatical rules and formal uses, but a lexicon suited to interpersonal relationships and conversation.
And by setting up a system where our students gain rewards, it becomes a positive experience. We allow them to pick their topics for learning to help them expand areas of interest. Choosing their own topics also helps them to take control of their education by learning more about those things for which they’re passionate.
How Can You Continue CLIL at Home?
Games, flash card stickies, films, and music can really help advance your child’s learning at home by keeping them immersed in the language. See here for more tips in detail. One big way to help your children learn basic vocabulary, however, is one of the simplest.
Put sticky notes around your house on day-to-day items. As your child improves their French vocabulary, expand the number of items you add st