CLIL in a Basque-medium school in the Basque Autonomous Community (Spain)

Author(s): Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe
Institution/Organisation: University of the Basque Country (ES)


1.1 Scope of the initiative

 1.2 Range of languages studied

o Model D programme: all subjects, except Spanish language and Literature and the modern language (English) are taught through Basque. Apart from that, 2 non-language subjects are taught through English: Social Sciences and Technology.

o Traditional EFL programme: all subjects, except Spanish language and Literature and the modern language (English) are taught through Basque. English is taught as a foreign language for 3 hours per week.

1.3 Learning outcomes

 1.4 Practical realisation


2.1 Context


The Basque Country is a bilingual community in which both Basque and Spanish are official languages. The implementation of CLIL in the Basque Country is relatively new (mainly the last five years). Nevertheless, these programmes have benefited from the experience gathered in programmes for the normalisation of Basque as an official language (the Basic Law on the Standardisation of Basque, 1982). Three linguistic models were established to ensure that every student had the possibility to learn in Spanish and/or Basque.


(i)  Model A: all subjects, apart from the Basque language and literature and modern languages, are taught in Spanish.
(ii)  Model B: both Spanish and Basque are used to teach all the subjects.
(iii) Model D: all subjects, except Spanish language and literature and modern languages, are taught in Basque.


The Department of Education of the Basque autonomous community also has set up an experimental programme to implement CLIL models geared to promote the knowledge and use of a foreign language (English or French). This approach provides the opportunity to learn a third language without requiring extra time in the curriculum.

2.2 Strategic goals of the initiative


The goal of the initiative is to provide empirical support for Content and Language Integrated Learning, an umbrella term for bilingual, content-based instruction that has spread throughout Europe since the mid-nineties. Nevertheless, there is still very little applied linguistic research on the field.



CLIL is an efficient educational approach because, among other issues, it:

This is particularly interesting in communities where two languages already need to be accommodated in the curriculum, which is becoming increasing true in the European educational landscape.


5.1 Lessons to be learned at institutional level


CLIL has proven to be an effective model to enhance language competence. Future language policies should take this fact into account to provide a coherent theoretical framework. Nevertheless, there are still obstacles to be faced: effective teacher training programmes, development of content materials and instructional resources, to mention just a few.

5.2 Broader implications


CLIL is an effective framework to comply with the European Union commitment for a multilingual Europe. Promoting multilingualism has become a cornerstone of the EU to tackle the challenge of creating a more integrated and inclusive society. Multilingualism is a tool to foster integration and deal with the reality of multiethnic societies. CLIL is an educational model that can account for the diversity of European programmes to ensure that everyone can become proficient in several languages (i.e. mother tongue + 2 objective), one of the objectives of European policy in education.