Valentina Adami


The European Union places great emphasis on the importance of an early start in learning foreign languages. In 2002, the EU Council established the (perhaps over-) ambitious Barcelona objective, which aimed at introducing “at least two foreign languages from a very early age” (Barcelona European Council, 2002). However, the study of English is not yet compulsory at pre-primary level in Italy (Scuola dell’Infanzia, ages 3-5). Pre-primary education tends to focus on holistic learning and is usually not rigidly structured in terms of curricular content. CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) seems to be an ideal approach in this context, since it is inherently holistic: in CLIL, different areas of knowledge and development are integrated in a learning unit within the 4Cs framework (Coyle, 2007), and this could work particularly well in pre-primary education, where there are usually no specific subjects, but, rather, a topic which is approached through different points of view. So far, there have been no structural interventions to implement CLIL in pre-primary education in Italy, and only few academic studies on best practices, methods, and approaches. This paper aims to start filling this gap by discussing the opportunities offered by CLIL in pre-primary education, as well as the possible challenges to be faced by teachers wishing to experiment such an approach, giving some suggestions for successful CLIL implementation with very young learners (VYLs).


pre-primary education; CLIL; infant school; pre-primary EFL teaching; very young learners; codeswitching

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