Teacher collaboration in Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

Collaboration and support among teachers is efficient for various education activities. Collaboration is especially significant in Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classes. However, very often teachers have a lack of understanding about CLIL and teacher collaboration in CLIL. There are not many studies conducted on this topic. So in this blog I would like to throw light on two relatively new studies investigating teacher collaboration in CLIL.

Collaboration in CLIL is a teamwork of content subject teachers and language teachers. Some researchers (García & Vázquez, 2012; Rymarczyk & Yearwood, 2016) studied the way how content and language teachers work together and explored different types of collaboration. Research findings were controversial in some contexts. For instance, content teachers in one Andalusian school really appreciate collaborative work with language teachers (García & Vázquez, 2012). On the other hand, some language assistants show misunderstanding of “the connection between content and language in the CLIL class, not having a clear idea of the role language plays in the learning process” (p. 584). Thus, language teachers in this school focus mostly on teaching vocabulary needed for content classes and repeating information previously given by content teacher. In this case, I think the collaboration among teachers is far from efficient, because language teachers do not really understand their role in CLIL classes.

The opposite situation seems to happen in Germany, where Rymarczyk and Yearwood (2016) investigated cross-curricular collaboration between content and language teachers. After conducting surveys researchers found out that content teachers do not want and do not ready to get help from English teachers. At the same time, English teachers show high level of willingness to provide support for content subject teachers. Rymarczyk and Yearwood (2016) also highlighted that despite opposing views both content and language teachers admit that collaboration helps them to save time. Moreover, while working together teachers build so called “parallel collaborative structure” and improve their communication and positive attitudes toward each other (p. 266).

All in all, I want to highlight that teacher collaboration in CLIL is crucially important. It is even seems impossible to provide quality content and language teaching without teacher collaboration. The main problem that should be addressed is teachers’ misunderstanding of this collaboration.

How do you think what other benefits can teacher collaboration bring to CLIL classes, that were not mentioned in the blog?


Photo credits to: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/457045062155040757/

García, M. del C. M. & Vázquez, V. P. (2012). Investigating the coexistence of the mother tongue and the foreign language through teacher collaboration in CLIL contexts: perceptions and practice of the teachers involved in the plurilingual programme in Andalusia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(5), 573–592. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2012.670195

Rymarczyk, J. & Yearwood, T. (2016). 1 subject + 1 subject = 1 subject-teacher? Teacher beliefs on cross-curricular collaboration in forming the design of CLIL degree courses. Language in Different Contexts,7(1), 260-268.

3 thoughts on “Teacher collaboration in Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

  1. Thank you Alina for your blogpost! Collaboration is indeed hard to establish and maintain throughout the course, whether it is done within the CLIL programme or not. And If it then couples with teachers’ misunderstandings about their role in a team, it is little surprise that a good collaboration is not taking place. In this regard, I believe research studies should be conducted to identify certain conditions under which collaborative teaching will be effective. In addition, to eliminate any potential misunderstandings, teachers (both content and language) should be provided with some sort of roadmaps, which will serve them as a reliable and valid guidance. This guide needs to clarify every teacher’s role in a team and specify the division of tasks.
    Plus, there should also be some techniques that can help to increase the effectiveness of collaboration. It would be highly advisable to use them as much as possible.


  2. Thank you, @alinatatiyeva for your raising an interesting issue of the CLIL program in your blog.
    I think, the issues of “a lack of understanding about CLIL and teacher collaboration in CLIL” are, in fact, a result of the top-down policy, which is the main reason for the lack of knowledge among major practitioner-stakeholders (teachers and school administrators). This in turn leads to poor team teaching, where one teaches content, while another teacher simply focuses on an unnecessary translation practice. In this sense, I think the role of school administrators is an utmost of importance to act as a liaison between content and language teachers to somehow improve the collaboration of teachers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s