CLIL: A Way Forward for Turkey

If you look at the FACT (Forum for Across the Curriculum Teaching) website (, you may notice that the Turkish flag has recently been added to the thirty or so others of countries currently participating in a rapidly growing global education community. These countries are currently adopting, experimenting with, or running projects concerned with various versions of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) as part of their curricula.

The appearance of the Turkish flag on the FACT webite is much to do with recent intiatives of the Teacher Development Unit at the Izmir University of Economics, where efforts are being made to improve communication between language instructors and faculty members, and to raise awareness of overlapping roles in providing both subject-based language instruction and language support from teachers of other subjects.

It is, however, surprising that Turkey has only just entered the world arenas of CLIL and Across the Curriculum Teaching, given that English has played such a prominent role in education, particularly in the private sector, for so many years. Teacher educators in other private universities are known to be liaising with faculty members over language education, while science and mathematics are widely taught in English in private secondary/high schools. Hence, elements of CLIL have been in existence, but unrecognised, in certain sectors of the Turkish education system for decades.

The system as it stands is not without its problems, and there are likely to be further obstacles resulting from recent changes in the national curriculum. The teaching of English together with training of English teachers has not moved ahead at the rate which the private sector has demanded. Furthermore, the abolition of a compulsory year of English at private high schools is likely to mean that a relatively small proportion of candidates for places at private English-medium universities will have reached the required level of proficiency. Although such universities provide their own intensive preparatory language programmes, it is a tall order to expect students to achieve a competence that will allow them to function efficiently whilst studying their chosen subject in a foreign language. The danger is compromise, both in language teaching and in the mode in which content-based material is delivered.

While there is no exact formula for CLIL, the concept of a simultaneous dual focus on language and content may be a realistic way forward for English-medium institutions in Turkey, as it is proving to be in a number of other countries. What is required, however, is both awareness-raising and training for teachers from both the language and content fronts, and the development of materials which are appropriate for this approach.

There is no attempt here to define or elaborate on CLIL. There is a growing body of literature on the theory and practice behind content and language integration (below), and a variety of styles, options and contexts to be chosen from.

CLIL: Key Sources of InformationCLIL: A European Overview – search # ED490775
CLIL Compendium –
CLIL Matrix –
European Centre for Modern Languages –
Forum for Across the Curriculum Teaching –
National Centre for Languages (CILT) –
Norwich Institute for Language Education –
Science Across the Curriculum –
Translanguage in Europe –

Tips, articles and materials are available on the OneStop English and British Council Teaching English websites:

Two short radio programmes are available as podcasts from the BBC:

There is also an ongoing debate in the UK press:

first published May 2006

Related Posts