Teaching the human body and the CLIL methodology in class

Teaching the human body in schools, in many cases, can be obsolete and old-fashioned. Thus, a teacher’s preparation and work may lead to a more innovative approach by using alternative materials as complements for textbooks.

Such a teacher’s work shall consider a fundamental question: what’s really necessary for students to learn about the human body? Teachers have to know how to present the human body for students to discover the advantages from a more scientific perspective. At the same time, teachers can create approximations that allow different experiences and contexts in which students learn to express their reasoning, listen to others, discuss them, formulate new questions and obtain meaningful explanations, which is critical for building scientific knowledge and learning about a democratic way of life.

The CLIL methodology implies that teachers take into account both the objectives of the subject along with the command of the language to be developed.”

When learning, the book is a supporting material because it does contain the content children should work on but complementary materials can also be included and required:

  • Technology (image projections, charts).
  • Prints and posters that visually clarify the localization of bones, muscles and joints, as the Systems and Functions poster proposed by Elesapiens.
  • The usage of online activities through interactive pages, previously reviewed to be used with children.
  • A material that from our point of view captivates students the most are the life-size puzzle skeletons. With these, they can see all the bones with their joints, identify them and locate them properly. This also applies to the muscles and principal systems.
  • Lab and kitchen experiments can teach, for instance, how a bone once was and its composition.

On the other hand, in recent years the importance of bilingual teaching is increasing in both private and public schools, and Primary and Secondary education. Students are taught to develop skills and competencies in a second language, with the goal of understanding and communicating in another language, as English or French. One of the most used methodologies is CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning).

This new methodology implies that teachers take into account both the objectives of the subject along with the command of the language to be developed. And, of course, teachers need a good level of working proficiency and knowledge of the foreign language, in addition to general and specific resources, to make their students learn not only the foreign language but also the contents of the subject taught in that international language.


The CLIL metholody: a new step towards a bilingual education and its approach regarding the natural sciences

Throughout history many different teaching methods for second languages have been developed resulting in those we use today. The CLIL method favors that the level of comprehension and learning of the contents becomes deeper and more complex. When we learn a language, not everything is applied consciously since incidental learning also takes place. This learning appears when the learner doesn’t focus on the language itself but on something else.

Pursuant to García (2009), the bilingual CLIL model is defined as an enriching model because:

  • It promotes dynamic bilingualism: where there is an exchange between the mother (native) tongue and the second language.
  • Its orientations are addressed to plurilinguism.
  • It’s for all students.

To carry out this methodology in teaching any subject, in this case, Natural Science, it is necessary for the development of pretasks and midtasks as a “scaffolding”, as table 1 depicts:

Table 1: Tasks to implement the CLIL methodology in class


Mid tasks

  • Semantic networks (mental maps).
  • Brainstorming.
  • Visual and listening support.
  • Verbal comprehension activities about the topic: songs, poems, tales, etc.
  • Demonstrations.
  • Watching films and documentaries.
  • Hands-on activities (practices): experiments, drawings, posters, etc.
  • Complete schedules, tables, graphics, classifications, etc.


According to the 4Cs planning tool proposed by Coyle (1999), the planning of a didactic intervention shall include the following 4 elements:

  • Content: by facilitating the understanding and construction of one’s own knowledge or the curricular subject.
  • Communication: by using the language to learn and by learning to use it.
  • Cognition: by activating simple or complex cognitive process.
  • Culture: by favoring knowledge and the integration of diverse perspectives and tolerance.

Before using the 4Cs planning guide, you need to reflect on several aspects (figure 1).


Written by Manuel Mora Márquez and Virginia Sánchez González.

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