Are you one of those forward-thinking educators who always wants to try the latest, greatest innovation in the classroom?
If you are, then you know how exhausting it can be!
Deviating from tried-and-true methods requires meticulous planning, limitless collaboration and boundless energy.
If you’re implementing CLIL (or Content and Language Integrated Learning) in your school or classroom, then you can be certain your efforts will be well worth it. Based on what we know about how students learn best, the relevance and connections available to them through CLIL will enhance both their language ability and their grasp of other academic subjects.
But as with anything, the devil is in the details. You need just the perfect tasks for your students! You don’t want old-fashioned, repetitive, boring worksheets. You want worksheets that give your students a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate and practice the skills they’re learning.
So, where can you find or make worksheets that give students the opportunity to demonstrate learning in the target language and in the subject area at the same time?
We’re here to help.
The Essential Ingredients of a Great CLIL Lesson
Before starting off on your quest to create the perfect CLIL worksheets for your students, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on the components of a quality CLIL lesson. (This article will assume you have some familiarity with CLIL and are prepared to implement it if you haven’t already done so. For an introduction to the basics of CLIL, check out this article before reading on.)
- The Four Cs: When planning your CLIL lesson and tasks, keep in mind these four key elements: content, communication, cognition and community/culture.
The content of the lesson should show a solid progression in knowledge and skills that are relevant to the subject. Communication must be solely in the target language. Cognitively, the students must be able to link their language acquisition with the concepts in the subject area. And lastly, a great CLIL lesson deepens the student’s awareness of culture and his/her sense of his/her own place in it.
- Higher order thinking skills: Remember learning about Bloom’s taxonomy? Just to refresh your memory, there’s a hierarchy of thinking skills, with basic tasks such as remembering and understanding at the bottom, and creating, evaluating and analyzing at the top.
Students have to engage in the lower-order thinking skills sometimes as part of the learning process, but the goal of your CLIL lessons should always be to get them to reach those higher order thinking skills.
- Inclusion of all four language skills: To truly learn a language, students need to master listening, reading, writing and speaking. Your CLIL lessons should ideally represent a balance of all four of them.
Designing a Meaningful CLIL Task
Since you know your students better than anyone, you may find that it’s most effective to create your own CLIL tasks and worksheets. Even if you find a great resource (we’ve listed some further down), you may still prefer to tweak it to suit your needs.
When designing a CLIL task or activity, keep these things in mind:
- Simple layout: Keep any worksheets visually appealing and user-friendly. Avoid overcrowding it or making it too “busy.”
Use a consistent font and style throughout—ideally a basic font that won’t be distracting. Include lots pictures and graphs to enhance the visual appeal.
- Rich input: Before beginning any worksheet task, make sure that students have received plenty of “comprehensible input” to prepare them. That means a mix of lectures, notes and reading passages on the topic in simple language that the students can understand.
- Scaffolding: Give the students the temporary supports they need to reach higher levels of comprehension and mastery, in terms of both the language and the content. Begin with simple tasks and work your way up to those that are more complex. Give clear directions and explain concepts in multiple ways to ensure understanding.
- “L.O.T.S” and “H.O.T.S.:” Include a good mix of “lower order thinking skills” (i.e., “duplicate,” “repeat,” “describe” and “identify”) along with a few “higher order thinking skills” (such as organizing, appraising, designing and investigating) in or alongside your worksheets. The goal is always to move students from the bottom of Bloom’s taxonomy to the top.
Hopefully, now you feel confident to begin designing a CLIL worksheet that meets the needs of your classroom.
But remember, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel! Here are a few great online resources for CLIL worksheets and lessons.
Your One-stop Shop for Great CLIL Worksheets
Created by the makers of “One Stop English,” this site provides unique English CLIL resources that can be adapted to any language.
You’ll find puzzles, crosswords, vocabulary worksheets and more catering to a range of ages. There’s a specific section for Young Learners, where you’ll find fun CLIL worksheets covering everything from the food groups to anatomy.
One Stop CLIL is also a particularly helpful resource for high school learners, due to the interesting subjects represented here. In the Secondary Resources section, you’ll find CLIL worksheets covering urban development, the Cold War and bioethics.
If you’re not familiar with this popular site, now is the perfect time to check it out. As the name suggests, this is a platform where teachers can sell resources that they’ve created to other teachers.
A search for “CLIL Teaching Resources” brings you to a wealth of resources. To find worksheets specifically, go to the right sidebar under “Top Resource Types” and select “Activities” or “Handouts.” You can also filter by subject and grade.
What’s great about this resource is you know you’re getting up-to-date CLIL worksheets from others in the field. Generally speaking, you’ll find that the resources are easy to adapt to your students’ target language; word processing programs such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs allow you to change your language settings so that you can easily recreate these worksheets in the target language.
Bonus: the knowledge that you’re supporting another great teacher like you.
For generations, Scholastic has produced magazines to support course content across multiple disciplines with brief, engaging articles and activities, including an online audio component. It’s also a great place to find worksheet ideas to fit any subject you’re teaching through CLIL.
Head over to the Lessons and Ideas section for grade-appropriate lesson plans on everything from literature to basic science to economics. Note that this is one of the more flexible resources on this list—rather than pulling directly from the lesson plans, which aren’t necessarily created for language educators, you can use them as jumping off points to hit those four Cs in your CLIL lessons.
You’ll get well-designed, user-friendly materials including diagrams and comprehension questions that you can adapt to your target language.
This nontraditional worksheet option is great for teaching vocabulary in any subject or language in an engaging way. You can use this instant crossword maker to easily produce fun worksheets targeting any vocabulary set you’re working on.
It takes some thought to create your own crossword puzzle, but this site allows you to generate one quickly and easily simply by typing in your vocabulary words and clues. By choosing the words and clues yourself (say, a list of target-language art terms in a CLIL art class), you can quickly create a subject-specific crossword puzzle in your target language that fits your students’ ages and levels.
In the process of completing a crossword puzzle as a whole class or with partners, students have the opportunity to ask questions about vocabulary terms that they don’t fully understand. You may even decide to use this flexible resource in your traditional language lessons, too!
Mostly known for craft and home decor inspiration, this popular platform is now also a go-to source for great lesson plan ideas.
When you type “CLIL” into the search bar, you’ll be directed to activities and worksheets on a variety of topics that can be adapted to any language. To get even better results, type the name of the target language (in the target language) into the search bar too (e.g. “CLIL italiano”). The nice thing about any worksheets you find this way is that they’re already in the target language, so it’s not necessary to adapt them.
In general, there seems to be more available on Pinterest for elementary school children and not as much for older learners. But you’re bound to find interesting ideas no matter what! Some of our favorite discoveries have included an ESL activity for learning body parts, a foldable notebook activity about ecosystems and a fun “getting to know you” creative art activity for the first week of school.
With these resources, it’s simple to create just the right worksheets to bring your hopes and dreams of an inspiring and meaningful CLIL lesson to life.
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