Content and Language Integrated Learning in European Preschools

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is a form of bilingual education tied to a European political and educational vision of producing plurilingual citizens who are able to live and work in a global, mobile, multilingual society. Since the term was coined in 1994 it has become part of mainstream education. This chapter provides an overview of the development of CLIL and its application to preschool contexts with very young learners. Although CLIL has been adopted in policy in some parts of Europe, preschool CLIL programs are usually self-activated and largely undocumented in research. There are several overlaps, however, in the theoretical underpinning of early years education and CLIL, both of which are influenced by a social-constructivist approach to learning, emphasizing the importance of experiential, child-centered learning. At the theoretical heart of CLIL is the integration of language and content and this is a critical issue as far as CLIL teacher education and the planning and implementation of CLIL programs are concerned. There are no major studies on CLIL at preschool and there is little empirical evidence of the benefits of a CLIL approach at this level, so there is a clear need for a research agenda to be established. As more preschool programs are documented, new data from classrooms and from the various stakeholders – children, teachers, and parents – is starting to emerge. Future research directions are likely to investigate all forms of outcomes in CLIL programs at this level, including aspects of first and second oral language learning and curricular outcomes. They are also likely to address teacher education, training, and implementation as well as investigating stakeholder perspectives. Given the importance of oral learning, the adoption of classroom discourse analysis could provide insight into CLIL practice at this level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Early Language Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education.
EditorsM. Schwartz
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning)
  • Bilingual Education
  • Classroom discourse
  • Preschool
  • Integration


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