CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning and the term was coined twenty years ago by David Marsh and Anne Maljers. Margarita explained it quite simply: It’s when you teach a subject using a foreign language. Any subject. Math, for example. Why do that? Because it does not actually matter in which language you learn the numbers as long as you learn how to count. “Baby CLIL” is practised with very young children, starting from ages 3-4. More complicated problems can be introduced later on. This method helps get children to learn by experience by doing and by making things. Shapes, numbers, positioning and movement, spelling and all sorts of concepts can be taught and learned through games and activities that are fun.
Benefits? There are, obviously. This practice really motivates kids and the use of the foreign language becomes meaningful because it’s being used in context. And when the context is fun and games, that’s even better. Actually, CLIL functions as a secret mechanism that serves a hidden purpose which aims to improve children’s overall linguistic competence. As Margarita put it: “Kids get the whole picture.” Moreover, “kids that engage in such activities learn how to become citizens of the world by being introduced to how other people think.” Margarita clearly stated that she is a huge advocate of multilingualism, not just bilingualism and yes, she quoted psycholinguist Frank Smith, who said that: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” The video Margarita made that we got to watch at the end of her presentation is a clear proof that CLIL can work really well, even with very young children, especially when put it into practice in a fun and creative way.