Leuven, Belgium. 16 September 2015

The sixth conference on Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) took place in the picturesque student-city Leuven in Belgium. The theme of the three-day-long conference in September was ‘Tasks for real’. On Wednesday the 16th the CLIL Research Network hosted the colloquium CLIL as task for real: tasks for real in CLIL. The Colloquium was coordinated by Rick de Graaff (Utrecht University), and included four presentations by CLIL-researchers: Do Coyle (University of Aberdeen), Teresa Ting (University of Calabria), Ana Llinares (Autonomous University of Madrid) and Julia Hüttner (University of Southampton) & Ute Smit (University of Vienna). After the introduction and the four presentations, the colloquium was closed with a discussion, considering the question if CLIL is by definition a task-based language teaching approach. The description of the colloquium can be found on the TBLT website: http://www.tblt.org/conferences/2015/colloquia/#3.

(Video and full decriptions of the presentations can be found below.)

The four presentations were directed in different research targets. Coyle talked about the usage of the pluriliteracies model for the enhancement of subject specific task performance. This was based on the development of a pluriliteracies approach to CLIL which puts academic literacies at the core learning procession in integrated learning. Ting’s presentation addressed the alternative ways in teaching that had to be found as soon as obligatory CLIL-lessons in Italy’s upper-secondary education were mandated. Teachers’ English level was generally too low for traditional teacher-fronted explaining; one way to counter this was the use of learning tasks that oblige learners to (inter)actively use English. Llinares presented a study by herself and Christiane Dalton-Puffer, which focussed on expressing ‘voice’ in a foreign language across tasks. Llinares discussed the role of several oral tasks in CLIL and in what way they could contribute to learning. Hüttner and Smit closed the round of presentations with their research about learner use of the language of economics in prepared and unprepared CLIL tasks. They focussed on the learning of a spoken disciplinary language through CLIL.


The presentations were followed by a lively discussion, in which number of questions and statements were raised addressing the connections between CLIL and task based language teaching. An impression:

  • ‘If CLIL is about functional language use in a content oriented task, does CLIL equal TBLT? Or is CLIL a context in which any kind of task can take place, both from a language and a content based perspective?’
  • ‘What makes a content oriented task a good task for language learning?’
  • ‘How can TBLT principles and evidence help content teachers to make better CLIL tasks?’
  • ‘A good task for language learning is a task that addresses the language that students need to be use in functional context: in school or out of school.’
  • ‘A task obviously has a beginning and end, but it is part of a much larger process of learning. So shouldn’t we focus more on a task-based CLIL curriculum instead of on single tasks in CLIL?’
  • ‘Is it important to sort out content and language in learning tasks, or is it the teachers’ mind who focusses on content or language? And is the student aware if he/she is being assessed on content or on language, whereas in the learning process they are generally intertwined?

The full description of the colloquium and all presentations with more elaborate explanations can be found here.

There also is a short video to give a impression of the colloquium and its presenters.