The lighter version
- CLIL is complex and context-sensitive.
- There are general parameters for CLIL.
- These are: Cognition, Culture, Content, Communication.
- Any particular CLIL model or methodology needs to consider the relative value/importance of the parameters above.
- Language as a learning tool operates in three ways: OF – FOR – THROUGH
The 4Cs Framework
Coyle, D. (2008). CLIL – a pedagogical approach. In N. Van Deusen-Scholl, & N. Hornberger, Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd edition (pp. 97-111). Springer.
Working towards a cohesive conceptual tool, and inﬂuenced by the
early work of Mohan and his Knowledge Framework (1986), Coyle
(1999) developed the 4Cs Framework (Figure 1). This Framework
differs from the standards-based world languages education strategy
Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (1999)
published by ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign
Languages), which focuses on the language curriculum. Although
some interesting links can be made (e.g. communication, cultures and
connections), there is a difference in emphasis since the starting point
is language education. The 4Cs framework for CLIL starts with content
(such as subject matter, themes, cross-curricular approaches) and
focuses on the interrelationship between content (subject matter), communication
(language), cognition (thinking) and culture (awareness of
self and ‘otherness’) to build on the synergies of integrating learning
(content and cognition) and language learning (communication and
cultures). It unites learning theories, language learning theories and
1. Subject matter is not only about acquiring knowledge and skills,
it is about the learner constructing his/her own knowledge and
developing skills (Lantolf, 2000; Vygotsky, 1978);
2. Acquiring subject knowledge, skills and understanding is related
to learning and thinking (cognition). To enable the learner to construct
an understanding of the subject matter, the linguistic demands
of its content must be analysed and made accessible (Met, 1998);
3. Thinking processes (cognition) need to be analysed for their linguistic
demands (Bloom, 1984; McGuiness, 1999);
4. Language needs to be learned in context, learning through the language,
reconstructing the subject themes and their related cognitive
processes e.g. language intake/output (Krashen, 1985; Swain, 2000);
5. Interaction in the learning context is fundamental to learning.
This has implications when the learning context operates through
L2 (Pica, 1991; van Lier, 1996);
6. The relationship between cultures and languages is complex.
Intercultural awareness and learning is fundamental to CLIL
(Byram, Nicols, and Stevens, 2001).
The 4Cs Framework holds that it is through progression in knowledge,
skills and understanding of the subject matter, engagement in associated
cognitive processing, interaction in a communicative context,
developing appropriate language knowledge and skills as well as
acquiring a deepening intercultural awareness through the positioning
of self and ‘otherness’, that effective CLIL takes place whatever the
model. From this perspective, CLIL involves learning to use language
appropriately whilst using language to learn effectively. The 4Cs
Framework is a tool for mapping out CLIL activities and for maximising
potential in any model, at any level and any age.
The language triptych