By Virginia Lane,2014-06-17 15:28
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    on reasons for Geography and English Integrated Teaching

    Aleksandra Zaparucha

    Secondary School Complex number 10, pl. św. Katarzyny 9, 87 100 Toruń, Poland

    The article was published in the English Language Teaching magazine The Teacher No 1(45) 2007 What is CLIL

    Teaching schools subjects in a language other than the mother tongue of the learners is gaining growing interest in Poland and other countries, both in Europe and elsewhere. The language of instruction employed can be German, French or Spanish, but English is the most popular. Additionally, bilingual teaching in the countries of large immigrant populations, many of them English-speaking ones, means this method is of profound importance to teaching English as a second, foreign or other language (TESL/TEFL/other language teaching).

     Numerous methods employed for delivering non-linguistic knowledge through the means of a foreign language have developed as concepts within the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), the main goal of which is to facilitate a communicative competence in the learners and their lifelong language learning. They include Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Bilingual Integration of Languages and Disciplines (BILD), Languages Across Curriculum (LAC), Problem Based Teaching, Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) (Chamot and O'Malley, 1994 [in:] Oxford, 2001).

    Other methods refer either solely to English as the language of teaching, such as English Across Curriculum (EAC), English as a Medium/Language of Instruction, and Englisch als Arbeitssprache (EaA) (English as a Working Language), or to university teaching aimed at gaining the ability to read and

    write scientific papers by studying vocabulary and an academic writing style, such as English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

     The above-mentioned Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is often achieved by introduction of Content-based Learning or Content-based foreign-language teaching/instruction (CBI). It combines learning the content, i.e. a selected school subject, with language learning. It is already treated by

    some methodology papers as a method that can stand alone and is the one expected to gain growing acceptance among foreign-language teachers. In this mode of instruction it is the content which determines the language used and mastered, not the other way round. It is expected that this is the way to motivate the learners to acquire more language.

    Content-based foreign-language instruction, a great option to the integrated-skill approach, includes three general models of teaching (Oxford, 2001,

    Davies, 2003). A theme-based model integrates the language into studying a carefully selected theme or topic, such as the world terrorism, wild animals or

    cultural differences between countries. This kind of content-based language instruction is widely approved and used all over the world, and numerous modern ESL/EFL coursebooks introduce themes to arouse the students’ interest. A theme-based CBI can be taught entirely by an EFL/ESL/other language

    teacher or in a team with a content specialist. The teacher, or teachers, can create a course of study based on their own students’ interests.

    In an adjunct model of CBI the language course is taught separately from the content course, but they are carefully designed. These classes are

    usually taught by ESL/EFL teachers, and they aim at preparing students for mainstream classes where they will join native speakers. Adjunct classes may

    resemble EAP or ESP classes where target vocabulary is the most important. The course may include specific classes to instruct the learners with the skills necessary for active participation in content-only ‘mainstream’ classes, such as listening and taking notes, as well as skimming and scanning texts. Classes

    of that type are often organised during summer holidays before regular college classes, while others are conducted simultaneously with regular lessons.

    A sheltered model teaches the content, but the language used is simplified in order to meet the level of students’ language proficiency. Similarly to the adjunct model, the aim of the sheltered model is to enable learners to study the same content material as regular native speaker students. In sheltered CBI students get special assistance to help them understand regular classes. In order to achieve this goal two teachers, i.e. a language specialist and a content specialist, work together to give instruction in a specific subject. They either teach the class together or the time of the lesson is divided between the two of them. For instance, the content teacher might give a lecture on a specific topic, followed by a language teacher who will check whether the listeners have understood the basic elements of the lecture. Such team teaching, however, means the teachers have to co-operate closely to plan and evaluate classes. A

    sheltered model of the CBI has proved to be successful at the bilingual University of Ottawa, where the classes are taught in English and French (Briton, 1989 [in:] Davies, 2003).

     Content-based foreign-language instruction proves the language is not only an interesting issue for grammarians or linguists, or something compulsorily tested during school exams. The language becomes an important tool of interaction and communication between people. Learning a language in this way makes it more interesting and motivating (Peachey, date unavailable). Fulfilling a real purpose makes students both more independent and more confident. Getting and evaluating information from various sources develops thinking skills, also useful during other school lessons. Group-work or pair-work develops students’ collaborative skills, which are of great social value. The CBI is also useful for the teacher as it makes it possible to observe the development of the students’ language skills. Last but not least, this method enables teachers to teach and students to learn the real content, such as

    Geography or History, not just the language forms. There are, of course, potential problems, such as automatic use of the native language during parts of the lesson or difficulties in finding materials for students with lower levels of language proficiency. These drawbacks should not, however, restrain us from integrating language skills in content-based instruction.

    Why Geography

     Geography is among school subjects most often selected for Content and Language Integrated Learning. Individual reasons may vary from school to school and teacher to teacher. Generally, however, Geography seems a good choice due to the fact that students naturally develop their specific vocabulary skills right from the beginning of foreign language studies. It is enough to look through the list of topics for reading skills in modern textbooks to realise Geography is a never-ending source of themes for theme-based model. The four tables below present Geographical vocabulary found in modern English coursebooks used in Poland at the Intermediate level.

    Modern Geographical studies form a system of sciences which have developed from a simple description of places. It is a science which creates a link between natural sciences, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and socio-economic studies, which include philosophy, history, economy, statistics and law. Currently, it comprises physical, socio-economic and regional Geography. Physical Geography examines the spheres of the Earth and the interrelations between them. Socio-economic Geography is the branch which studies human economic activity within the above spheres. Last

    but not least, regional Geography deals, as the name clearly indicates, with regions, such as continents, countries or geographical regions. Almost all the

    above-mentioned branches of Geographical sciences are represented in English coursebooks.

    Table 1. Geographical vocabulary in Headway Intermediate

    Earth, gravity, infra-red camera, Lunar module, Moon, NASA, orbit, oxygen, rotation, space, satellite, Spacelab, Elements of astronomy

    space settlement, Space Shuttle, sunlight,

    bottom of the valley, mountain, summit, valley, Relief

    above freezing, below freezing, climate, cloud, cloudy, cold, cold front, degree Celsius, dry, heavy rain, north Climatology (studies atmosphere)

    easterly winds, oxygen, rain, summer, snow, sunny, sunshine, temperature, weather, wind, windy, winter,

    channels of the rivers, flood, mud, wash out, water cycle, Hydrography (studies hydrosphere)

    Kilimanjaro, Geomorphology / Endogenic Volcanism

    Geology processes the Himalayas, Orogenesis

    (study coast Exogenic Coastal erosion lithosphere) processes desert, Wind erosion

    the Atlantic, the British Isles, Corsica, Oceanography (studies oceans)

    fertile, rich soil, Pedology (studies soils)

    Biogeography Phytogeography (plants) jungle, oak, rain forests,

    education, employ, language, made redundant, population, population control, redundancy, thousand million, Population Physical working class, American, British, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Indian, Iranian, Japanese, Lebanese,

    Mexican, Russian, Spanish, GEOGRAPHY city, location, town, village, Birmingham, Bristol, Katmandu, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Mexico City, New Settlement

    York, Seattle,

    currency, European Commission for Human Rights, European Parliament, nuclear weapon, peace, Socialist Political Social Republic, trade unions,

    barley, beef, butter, farmland, fish, grass, green house, lamb, peas, potatoes, produce, rice, spice, wheat, wine, Primary (Agriculture+Forestry+Fishing)

    vegetables, wood, Socio-economic

    branch, dockyard, export, industry, miner, nuclear power, productivity, shipbuilder, shipyard, (Secondary) Industry

    tourism, Tertiray+ Tourism Economic Quaternary (Services+IT) communications industry, jet, plane, train, transport, Transport

    Africa, America, Australia, Europe, Continents

    Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, People’s

    Republic of China, Rhodesia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden Tanzania,, the Sudan, the UK, the United States, Countries

    Turkey, Zimbabwe,

    Regional California, England, Scotland, the Amazon jungle, the Himalayas, Regions

    east, north, south, south-east, south-west, Geodesy Topography / Cartography

    average, per cent, rate, statistical data, statistics, survey, Statistics

    become extinct, cut down forests, environmentalist, felling trees, firewood, jungle, tropical rain forests, Sustainable development / environmental protection

    Table 2. Geographical vocabulary in Opportunities Intermediate

     planet, scientific studies, spring, the South Pole, Elements of astronomy

    altitude, below sea level, coast, group of islands, hills, highest peak, island, mountain, mountain range, valley, Relief

    carbon monoxide, climate change, cloudy, cold, environment, foggy, freezing, global warming, Mediterranean, ozone polar Climatology (studies atmosphere)

    winter, pollution, rainy, snow, sunny, weather, weather conditions, wet,

    flood, glacier, lake, river, the Aral Sea, the Amazon, the Clyde, the Colorado River, Lake Eyre, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, the Hydrography (studies hydrosphere)


    eruption, evacuate, Montserrat Volcano Observatory, volcanic explosion, volcano, Geomor-Endo-Volcanism

    phology genic Mount Everest, Mount Kościuszko, the Alps, the Andes, the Grampian Mountains, the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains, Orogenesis

    (studies beach, coast, Exo-Coastal erosion litho-genic cave, Karst sphere) flood, flood control, valley, the Grand Canyon, River action

    desert, semi-desert, the Gobi Desert, the Namib Desert, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Wind erosion

    beach, coast, icebergs, ocean, sea, the Aegean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Oceanography (studies oceans)

    Sea, the Pacific Ocean, Corsica, Greenland, New Guinea, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean Islands, the Hebrides, the Orkneys,

    the Shetlands, Hudson Bay,

    Bio-Phytogeography (plants) bush, coolibar tree, eucalyptus tree, forest, jungle, plants, rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, geography Zoogeography (animals) crocodile, dingoes, dolphins, echidnas, elephant, emus, kangaroo, koalas, mammal, penguins, platypuses, possums, rabbit, sharks,

    snakes, spiders, whales,

    asthma, asylum, cancer, charity, dialects, economic refugees, emigrate, farming, health and education services, households, Population Physical Human Development Index, multicultural, Nomads, pensioner, population, race, self-employed, single men, standard of living

    technologically advanced nations,, tribe, unemployment, working age, Aborigines, Algonquian, Amazon Indians, Anglo-Irish GEOGRAPHY settlers, Asian, Australian, Canadian, Celtic, Chinese Creeks, Cuban, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Inuit (Eskimos),

    Irish, Iroquis, Italian, Mohawks, Norwegian, Polish, Sioux, Ukrainian, Welsh,

    area, capital, city, inhabited, location, mining village, settlement, town, Amsterdam, Athens, Brisbane, Budapest, Canberra, Settlement

    Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Hague, Istanbul, Katmandu, Kiev, Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne,

    Montreal, New Delhi, Ottawa, Prague, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Swansea, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, Warsaw,

    the British Empire, currency, independence, nuclear disaster, official language, political structure, province, Red Cross, separatist Political Social movement, the Third World, the UN,

    agriculture, Chernobyl, coal mining, diamonds, exporter of coal, farmland, farming, fields, land ownership, mining, outback, Primary (Mining+ Socio-economic

    power station, sheep, spices, silver, Agriculture+Forestry+Fishing)

    company, global economy, heavy industry, management, market, technology, textiles, Secondary (manufacturing)

    canoeing, climbing, eco-tourism, polar tourism, polar cruises, resort, safari, trekking, white-water rafting, Tertiray+QuatTourism

    ernary airplane, bus, car, country road, ferry, heavy traffic, hovercraft, information technology, lorry, motorway, noise, railway line, Economic Communi-

    (Services+IT) ship, train, traffic jam, traffic, transport plane, the underground, van, yacht, cation

    Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, South America, Continents onal area, sq km, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Countries RegiIndia, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Nepal, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, South Africa,

    Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, West Africa, Yugoslavia,

    the Amazon, Anatolia, Arctic, California, England, Florida, Kamchatka, the Mediterranean, New South Wales, the Northern Regions

    Territory, Nunavut, Quebec, Scotland, Wales, fossils, rocks, dinosaurs, Geology

    Captain Scott, explorer, food depot, frostbite, Roald Amundsen, sledges, teams of dogs, Geographical Exploration

    larger proportion, survey, Statistics

    branches carbon monoxide, climate change, ecologists, ecosystem, environment, global warming, greenhouse effect, Kakadu National Sustainable development / Supportive

    Park, nature, ozone, pollution, species, tree-planting, wildlife, environmental protection

    Table 3. Geographical vocabulary in Enterprise Intermediate

    astronomer, astronaut, planets, stars, space, space mission, spaceship, Elements of astronomy

    Relief mountains, slopes,

    Climatology (studies atmosphere) air, cold, fog, hot, sandstorm, snowstorm, weather conditions, weather forecast, wet, cloudy, showers, weather,

    summer, atmosphere, clouds, oxygen, ozone layer, typhoon, drought, storm, high wind, dry weather, weather

    conditions, meteorologist, foggy, windy, wet, sunny, saturated,

    Hydrography (studies hydrosphere) rivers, lakes, water, streams, avalanche, mineral water,

    Geomor-Endo-Earthquakes debris, earthquake, Earth’s crust, evacuate, fire, natural disaster, quake, the Richter scale, San Andreas fault system, phology genic rescue operation, seismic activity, tremor, (studies Volcanism lava, volcanic eruption, volcanoes, litho-Orogenesis the Rocky Mountains, the Swiss Alps, sphere) Exogenic Coastal beach, cliff, coast, sea, sandy, wave,


    Wind action desert,

    River action flooding, Physical Oceanography (studies oceans) sea, waves, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Jamaica,

    Madagascar, Maui, the Mediterranean, Oahu, GEOGRAPHY Bio-Phytogeography (plants) bamboo, forest, leaves, palm trees, thistle, geography Zoogeography (animals) dolphin, mountain gorilla, rain forest, rhinoceros,

    Population Buddhist, famine, fishermen, food aid, inhabit, miner, population, tribe, urban sprawl, villages, Belgian, Chinese,

    Ethiopian, European, French, Italian, Mexican, Romanian, Rwandan, Spanish,

    Settlement capital city, village, Bangkok, Barcelona, Brussels, Bucharest, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Madrid,

    Manchester, Mexico City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Singapore, Venice,

    Political government, nuclear explosions,

    Social Primary (Mining+ apples, beef, breeding, carrots, cereals, chicken, coffee, crops, dairy products, farmland, fish, fishing boat, fruit,

    Agriculture+Forestry+Fishing) hunter, lemons, lobster, meat, milk, mine, oats, oil, olives, olive oil, oranges, pigs, poultry, pulses, rice, salmon, salt, Socio-economic c shellfish, strawberries, sugar, tea, tomatoes, vegetables, wine, EconomiSecondary (Industry) electricity, factories, industry, power station,

    caravans, Tertiray+QuatTourism Transport commute, passengers, transport, vehicles, ernary

    (Services+IT) Continents Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, South America,

    Countries Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Rwanda, South Africa,

    Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, the UK, the US,

    Regional Regions California, Cornwall, Devon, England, Florida, Latin America, Scotland, Yorkshire,

    Cartography east, west,

    Statistics diagram, large proportion, majority, minority, per cent, percentages, research, significant number, survey report, Sustainable development / acid rain, aerosols, air pollution, become extinct, burn, chemical, conservationists, countryside, cut down,

    environmental protection deforestation, emission, endangered species, environmental protection, environmentally-friendly, exhaust fumes, fire,

    food waste, forest, gas, greenhouse effect, habitat, illegal hunting, nuclear waste, oil spill, poisonous chemicals,

    poisonous fumes, land protection, national park, natural habitat, packaging, pollution, radioactive cloud, rare birds,

    recycling, society, smog, survival, toxic waste, water contamination, water pollution, the World Wildlife Federation

    Table 4. Geographical vocabulary in Matrix Intermediate


    Elements of astronomy asteroid, daylight, the Earth, the North Pole, planet,

    Relief hill, island, mainland, mountain,

    Climatology (studies atmosphere) climate, cold spell, driest, droughts, flooding, fog, heat, heatwave, heavy shower, hurricane, low-level radiation,

    overcast, sunny spell, thunderstorm, storm, sub-zero temperatures, sunny, warm, weather, wet, Hydrography (studies hydrosphere) floods, ice caps, lake, lakeland, running water, water, waterfall, the Ganges river, the Thames, Geomor-Endo-Earthquakes earthquake, fire, the Richter scale,

    phology genic Orogeny Ben Nevis, the Himalayas, the Matterhorn, Mount Everest, Mount Olympus, (studies Volcanism hot rocks, intrusion, steam, volcano, litho-Exo-Coastal erosion cliff, eroded, erosion, estuary, farmland, salt water, salt water marshes, silt, surge barrier, the Wash, sphere) genic Karst cave, ground, underground,

    Oceanography (studies oceans) bay, coast, island, tidal wave, waves, Antigua, the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas, the British Isles, the Caribbean Physical

    Islands, Greenland, the Mediterranean, the West Indies,

    Bio-Phytogeography (plants) forest, GEOGRAPHY

    geography Zoogeography (animals) fish, snake,

    Population education, immigrant, inhabitant, language, overcrowding, population, settler, African, American, Arab, Asian,

    British, Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Greek, Irish, Iroqui, Italian, Native American, Puerto Rican, Social Russian, Scot, Scottish, Welsh, West Indian, economic Settlement evolutionary past, gold rush, human, Canberra, Chicago, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, London, Manchester, Manhattan Socio-Island, New Orleans, New York, Paris, Peking, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sydney, Thessaloniki,

    Political Commonwealth, government, international, Northern Ireland, Roman Empire, the World Trade Centre,

    Primary (Mining+ agriculture, berry, coal mining, coffee, crop spraying, deep sea fishing, development, diet, electricity, farmer,

    Agriculture+Forestry+Fishing) fisherman, fishing boat, food, fruit, gold, herb, hunter-gatherer, maze, old mine, orchard, pesticides, potato crop, rice,

    staple diet, starvation, wheat,

    Secondary (Manufacturing) construction industry, international company, invention, development, steel worker,

    Tertiray+ Tourism tourist, tourist industry,

    Quaternary Economic Transport+ airport, the Chunnel tunnel, commuter train, computer, digital message, eBook, electronic mail, harbour, information, (Services+IT) Information the Internet, mobile phone, new technology, port, public transport, railroad, telephone, traffic congestion, train, transfer tunnel, website,

    Continents Africa, America, Antarctica, Australia, Europe,

    Countries square kilometers, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,

    India, Istanbul, Italy, Japan, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, the USA, Venezuela,

    Regions California, Central America, Crimea, England, Indian subcontinent, Lake District, Northern Ireland, the Orient, Peak Regional District, Queensland, Scotland, Wales, the Wash, Washington DC,

    Geology rock,

    Geographical Exploration Captain Cook, century, Christopher Columbus, expedition, the North Pole, West India Company,

    Cartography map, north, north-west, south, west,

    Statistics approximately, average, data, figures, percentage, sources,

    Sustainable development / conservation, cutting down trees, deforestation, endangered species, environment, environmentalist, global warming, Supportive branches environmental protection heavy metals, industrial pollution, national park, recycling, wild, wild animals, wildlife,

     As the tables above prove, any student who has gone through any Intermediate-level coursebook is well-prepared for learning Geography and English in an integrated manner. It must be stressed, however, that the vocabulary of some geographical branches is used more often throughout the English textbooks. The best represented branches include climatology, tourism and environmental protection, as well as all the regional issues of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Other popular themes, and thus groups of vocabulary, include those dealing with natural disasters, such as volcanic activity and earthquakes. Intermediate textbooks also include a wide selection of geographical names, such as countries, cities, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, lakes and islands both in Europe and elsewhere. Relatively weakly represented groups of words are those dealing with industry and geology. Moreover, it must not be forgotten some vocabulary must have been acquired at an earlier stage of learning.


     Bilingual teaching, no matter whether we call it CLIL or CBI, is gaining popularity among schools in most countries in Europe and outside. They include those which have to face growing immigrant populations and those which introduce this way of foreign-language teaching in order to give the students new competences in the multinational and multicultural world. Whatever the case, bilingual teaching needs a number of elements in order to develop successfully: conducting scientific research of linguist specialists to give theoretical basis for this method, sharing experiences of both content and language teachers during various events, as well as widening the scope of teacher-training options for both newly qualified and in-service teachers. Last but not least, students must acquire a wide range of vocabulary items specific for a given branch of science prior to studying it through the means of a foreign language. Geography is an ideal school subject for being taught and learnt bilingually as the vocabulary scope in the English textbooks is wide enough.


    1. DAVIES S., 2003, Content Based Instruction in EFL Contexts, The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IX, No. 2, February 2003,,

    accessed September 2006

    2. EVANS V., DOOLEY J., 1998, Enterprise Intermediate Coursebook, Express Publishing

    3. GUDE K., WILDMAN J., GRYCA D., Matrix Intermediate Student’s Book, Oxford Press University

    4. HARRIS M., MOWER D., SIKORZYŃSKA A., 2001, Opportunities Intermediate, Students’ Book, Longman

    5. OXFORD R., 2001, Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom, ERIC Educational Resources Information Centre - Digest, September 2001, University of Maryland,, accessed September 2006

    6. SOARS J., SOARS L., Headway Intermediate Student’s Book, Oxford University Press

    7. ZAPARUCHA A., 2006, How much English teaching in Geography teaching, SOP, Toruń (2006 conference proceeding materials, in print)

    See also:

    8. EUROPEAN UNION, undated, European Union Positions on CLIL and Training For CLIL,,

    9. KELLY K., undated, CLIL an overview,,

    10. PEACHEY N., undated, Content based instruction, teaching English, the British Council,,

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