I’d like to start writing this post by sharing some of the questions an Italian colleague asked me a few weeks ago as a result of a conference I recently gave at Zaragoza University on language competence. “What’s the relationship between CLIL and BEP ( Bilingual education projects)? Is CLIL theorical and BEP more practical? Was CLIL created after BEP was already implemented in schools? What do you think about all this, Mr. Garrido?

I have to confess I had never reflected upon the fact that BEP may go far beyond CLIL. From my own working and personal experience I consider CLIL a wonderful step forward in relation to teaching and learning foreign languages in an academic context, but clearly insufficient if we compare it with an effective Bilingual Education Project.

In my opinion CLIL offers learners endless opportunities to be exposed and learn the foreign language through the acquisition of contents in specific subjects such as Science or Art. Students learn that language mostly in a limited context as the emphasis is put on academic results. Please don’t take me wrong. It’s been a great starting point to promote acquisition of foreign languages in a more practical way, not very natural though.

BEP definitely goes beyond this approach. Not only do students learn the contents and skills from a curriculum but also they use the foreign language in a wide range of more real-life situations in contrast with the academic approach of CLIL. The teaching of Language & Literacy, history or geography is the perfect vehicle to help students immerse themselves in the culture of the foreign language. And this is only possible if the two languages are taught through an integrated curriculum in which both languages have a similar number of hours or sessions.

However, I’m afraid there’s still a long way to go in order to implement Bilingual Education projects successfully, mainly due to poor training and a lack of understanding from many teachers and educational authorities on this particular but essential difference.

Related links:

CLIL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_and_language_integrated_learning

BRITISH COUNCIL BILINGUAL PROJECT: http://www.britishcouncil.org/spain/en/bilingual-schools-project-0


  1. If a foreign language and another subject were to be combined, I believe that there would indeed be a significant increase in languages actually being remembered, and not just learned, but used in life as well, Great post!

  2. Calvin says:

    Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a great article…
    but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

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