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Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

The term – Content and Language Integrated Learning (briefly: CLIL) today is familiar to the language teachers starting from the kindergarten and primary school and finishing with the university, though sometimes it seems that it is rather considered the sphere of general and level education; in adult education, vocational, or professional, language study is supposed to be dominating. For instance, vocational institutions in Estonia provide language studies in training extension courses: professional Finnish language /Russian language; professional Finnish language for medical workers and caretakers; English language for service attendants, etc.  Should we try to explain the difference between CLIL-study and professional language study – while some people share an opinion that there is no difference, and CLIL-study is actually well-forgotten old though in a new guise – then, in general sense, teaching professional language deals with creation and providing the study material corresponding with the needs of specific student. CLIL-study is basically bilingual study, focusing both on the subject content and language learning. As for the first example, the most obvious are business (English) language or tourism language courses and numerous textbooks available in the market.


Photo: The Conversation

On 1st of June 2016, a work group gathered together in the Estonian Qualification Authority (trademark Kutsekoda) to introduce the results of a project „The improvement of foreign languages knowledge in descriptions of the occupational qualifications system“. As a result of the project the descriptions of foreign languages shall be defined, which will become a basic tool both for teachers and students. The more exact descriptions will hopefully integrate with more success into the foreign language assessment within the occupational examinations. The project report mentions: „Foreign language sub-skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) cannot be equally important within the limits of one occupation “. It is believed, that more attention should be given to development of professional language skills, what is more – within the framework of the Content and Language Integrated Learning. The input should be based on the more exact competencies description in the occupational qualifications system so that student could acquire namely such phrases that are absolutely necessary in their working environment. The report confirmed that „based on the work experiences, the occupational training of waiter received with the aim of communicating with clients and colleagues in foreign language was not sufficient for their job tasks performance (the professional vocabulary was gapped, also, according to the food culture, it is necessary to know the most frequently used phrases and names in French, etc.).“

Cedefop’s report concerning Estonia claims about the Estonian skills prognosis until the year of 2025 that a raise of the qualified labour force and services sector is expected in the national economics. Besides, qualified employees in the services sector are expected to boast a good level of knowledge in more than one foreign languages. Taking into consideration a tendency for people to move between the workplaces and sectors relatively faster than ever before, they may not have an opportunity to undergo the professional foreign language courses within their level studies, hence, there is an opportunity to offer adult education trainings, incl. in cooperation with the sector companies, that combine vocational studies (e.g. student’s study) and foreign languages study, or to be a partner in projects, where foreign language training can be added. It provides student with the opportunity to learn foreign language along with their trade outside a formal classroom and, naturally, accompanied by the digital solutions available today.

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