CLIL stands for “Content and Language Integrated Learning,” meaning the learning of curriculum subjects such as geography, history, or Religious Education through a target foreign language. There is no set methodology or structure for a CLIL program, and this term can refer to varying levels of language exposure. However the common consensus is that both language and content are given equal importance, and that this way of teaching allows a language to be learnt and used in an immediately relevant context.

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Bringing bilingual learning to the table: Should more Victorian secondary schools implement CLIL programs?


At St Monica’s College our CLIL classes are carefully scaffolded to increase the exposure of our students to their target language more and more throughout the year, with the goal of full immersion. We understand that CLIL is more than talking at our students in another language, and as such, class instruction is delivered in simplified language along with gestures and visuals to assist with understanding. Students learn through the use of texts and resources in both English and the foreign language, and will often be asked to present at least part of their work in the target language. They are also encouraged to speak the language in class as much as possible.

We currently have an Italian CLIL program which runs from years 7 – 9.


Year 7: Italian, Religion, and Humanities
Year 8: Italian, Religion, and Humanities
Year 9: Italian, Religion, and Humanities
Our other four languages at St Monica’s (Japanese, French, Greek and Spanish) are currently offered through the general LOTE stream only. Italian can be studied either through LOTE mainstream or CLIL.


Faster language acquisition

While we are proud of our dynamic and extensive range of LOTE subjects at St Monica’s College, the fact remains there is only a small number of hours per week for our students to receive instruction in and about the language. By studying a language through CLIL, students are exposed to the language a greater number of hours per week and as a result, we have observed faster language acquisition rates in our students. Through CLIL they not only have more time to learn the language, but are also regularly using it in a real-life context of learning and discussing the subject content. Why would students need to remember the words like “map” and “population” unless they have an immediate need to use them to learn geography? This authentic context for use of the language helps students make deeper connections between vocabulary and the relative meaning, and are therefore more likely to remember them.

Deeper understanding of subject content

The more angles you see something from, the better you will understand it. The same applies for learning a subject through an additional language. Languages are beautifully unique and can shed further light on the subject matter by describing it in a different way.

Parents may feel concerned about the idea of their child learning subjects through a LOTE, for fear they will not achieve the same level of understanding. However, both research and our years of experience with CLIL have dispelled this myth, and we instead feel that our students gain a deeper understanding of the content by engaging with it through two language perspectives. Students are assessed on the same content as their non-CLIL subject peers, and overall show results similar to them – if not better!

Smaller class sizes

At St Monica’s each CLIL cohort attends separate classes for each subject content area than the rest of their year level peers. While it may not always be the case, this usually results in CLIL classes having a much smaller number of students than mainstream content subject classes. This allows students to have much more interaction with and one-on-one assistance from their class teachers. It also results in less disruption in class, and often means the class will be ahead of their mainstream peers in terms of the unit timeline, allowing for further extension and more revision time.

Class unity and strong, lasting friendships

Over the 3 years in the CLIL program, students in each class spend a lot of time together studying the language and CLIL subjects. In addition to the small class sizes this often leads to a strong sense of unity amongst classmates as they share the ups and downs of this unique experience. As part of a CLIL cohort your child will likely feel a sense of belonging to this smaller group, in addition to their homeroom class, forming deep friendships that may continue beyond the CLIL years.


St. Monica’s College currently has one CLIL program, Italian, which includes several subjects taught through the target language in addition to language focused classes. These CLIL programs run from Year 7 to Year 9, with an additional Advanced Italian class offered in Year 10. After the completion of CLIL, students will rejoin the mainstream content and LOTE language classes, if they choose to continue the language.

While previous study in the target language is an advantage, there is no requirement for your child to have any prior knowledge of the language when they begin CLIL. From the very beginning the language in these classes will be scaffolded according to the needs of each student. It may feel a little overwhelming at first, but this is part of normal adjustment to an immersion program. We have had several students join a CLIL program without prior language study and have seen them progress very quickly to excel in class. As long as your child is dedicated to their learning, there will not be any problem.
Due to conflicting timetables, you may enrol your child in either CLIL or Horizons, but not both. As they are each excellent programs we suggest you discuss this decision with your child and contact us regarding any questions you may have about either. If you do choose Horizons, your child can still study Japanese or Italian through the regular LOTE stream.
There are no extra fees for joining CLIL. It is simply offered as part of the unique Monican experience and is covered by the normal school fees.
Both of our CLIL programs last for a period of 3 years, from years 7 – 9, with an additional Advanced Italian class also available in year 10.
While we encourage all students to persevere and will lend support wherever possible, we understand that sometimes CLIL may not suit your child. In these rare cases we suggest returning to mainstream LOTE and content classes at the beginning of the next year.

Any student studying CLIL will likely find it challenging, but we encourage them to persist and rise to the challenge. We encourage them to discuss their learning and any difficulties they may be having with their CLIL teachers, who can share effective learning strategies and lend some additional support. While we encourage all students to persevere through to the end of the 3 year program, we understand that sometimes CLIL may not suit your child. In these rare cases we suggest returning to mainstream LOTE and content classes at the beginning of the next year.

Our current CLIL program uses the same textbooks in each subject area as in the mainstream classes, so whether students study the subjects via CLIL or mainstream, they will be purchasing and using the same texts. These mainstream texts are usually supplemented with resources in the target language (such as worksheets, presentations and activities) made by the relevant CLIL teacher so that students can refer to textbook content as well as carry out tasks in Italian.
While studying through CLIL requires work and dedication, your child is unlikely to feel it as an extra burden. Assessments and classwork loads will remain comparable to a mainstream class. It is strongly advised, however, that students participating in CLIL regularly review the language they learn in their CLIL classes and spend some time each day studying Italian. Regular revision of language is known to help students readily acquire and recall language, plus, students in CLIL who regularly revise the language components addressed in class also inadvertently revise class content as well.
As CLIL classes cover the same curriculum as mainstream subject classes, students do not miss out on any content. Instead, their understanding of the content is enriched by integrating language learning with the study of content.