CLIL Teacher’s Voice

My CLIL Teaching Story 1: CLIL workshop for young learners

By Chantal Hemmi

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How the curriculum was created

I was asked by Ms Mina Yajima of JOES (Japan Overseas Educational Services) to create an opportunity for returnee children in Years 4 and 5 in January 2021, and as a SOLIFIC-JOES joint project, we successfully launched a CLIL workshop of eight 1.5 hr sessions in total. Here is how my learning journey as a CLIL teacher began.

The needs

JOES is a non-profit organization that supports Japanese children who will live overseas in the future, and those who have lived abroad and returned to Japan. It also runs a wide variety of services for Japanese schools abroad .The support for Japanese children given is in the field of pre-study before going abroad, educational counseling, language maintenance upon the children’s return to Japan in English and French, and also support for encouraging children to feel proud of their own identity as someone who has been exposed to different languages, ways of thinking and cultures whilst being abroad. The need to design and create the workshop came from the fact that it was necessary to make learning opportunities for children who had been to a Japanese school while they were abroad.  The students’ English level was around A2(CEFR) and they are greatly influenced by different cultures.  However, they had less exposure to English compared to those who went to local schools or international schools  where the language of instruction was English.

Co-constructing the curriculum with JOES staff

When this opportunity came to me, I sprang into action, as I was particularly interested in creating two CLIL modules and being in the actual classroom with young learners for the first time since October 2007. I worked at a primary school in Yokohama where a team of British Council teachers first created the programme for Years 1 to 6, and added some CLIL modules in Years 5 and 6. Since then, I have been doing a lot of CLIL teacher training, but I thought it was a fantastic chance for me to be back in the classroom with the children, putting into place what I have been teaching in teacher training sessions for elementary school teachers, and reflecting on the content and performance in my teaching. The best part of the activity was that I got to create the programme with three JOES staff, very experienced teachers and administrators who knew a lot about returnee children and their common needs.

What is CLIL?

CLIL started in Europe and has become popular around the world, but what is it? Here is a popular definition.  CLIL is“a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language” (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010, p.1) and it is often thought of as a good way to teach subject content and language together (Tedick, 2020). This is because of the idea that learning a language through a school subject produces good results in terms of proficiency in the language as well as scholastic achievement than learning a language on its own. There are many programmes in Europe where children learn a subject in an additional language such as English. For example, I visited a bilingual school in Holland where children were learning geography in English. You can find schools like that in Spain, also and in other countries in Europe. However, in Japan there are very few schools that take this approach, except for some bilingual schools or international schools.


I wanted to try a CLIL approach in this workshop because content which is interesting and stimulating can encourage children to enjoy what they are learning, and the language I used was just English, but I let the children say what they wanted to say in Japanese, as I wanted them to feel comfortable in talking about their own ideas. So initially, the workshop took a bilingual CLIL approach, but later, I weaned them out of using Japanese as we progressed in the course.

The curriculum

I based the curriculum on my previous teaching experience with the British Council, and framed it around Yamano’s CLIL syllabus sample presented in Yamano and Isobe (2019, p.37).


Corey. S.(2016). Malala, a hero for all. Random House.

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

Hughes, D. (2010). Little kids first big book of animals. National Geographic.

Tedick, D. J. (2020). Foreword. In K. Bower, D. Coyle, R. Cross & G. Chambers. (Eds.), Curriculum integrated language teaching (pp. xi-xv). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

山野有紀 磯部聡子(2019). 小学校外国語教育におけるC L I L授業案とその展開 笹島茂 山野有紀(編)「学びをつなぐ小学校外国語教育のC L I L実践」(pp.35-50). 三修社.


Chantal Hemmi is a professor at Center for Language Education and Research at Sophia University. Her research interest in CLIL, and in the past fourteen years, she has been involved in CLIL teacher training for schools. She has some practical experience of creating an English programme for Morimura Gakuen Elementary school where she also taught together with a team of British Council teachers.

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