(Re)conceptualizing “language” in CLIL: Multimodality, translanguaging and trans-semiotizing in CLIL

Jiajia Eve LIU, Mei Yi Angel LIN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


CLIL focuses on the integration of content learning and additional language learning. However, it is increasingly recognized that the re/presentation and communication of discipline-specific content involve not only language, but also other semiotic modes (such as visuals and gestures). This is accelerated by the advancement of digital technologies and multiplicity of communication channels in recent years. This article points out the urgent need to revisit and reconceptualize the roles of "language"in CLIL. It argues that, to prepare students for the multimodal communication landscape in today's societies and to truly value their linguistic and semiotic diversity in learning, the "language"dimension in CLIL needs to be reconceptualized as a multimodal dimension, and CLIL classroom practices need to adopt an updated pedagogy of multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) rather than focusing on "mere language"practice. The article reviews the recent development of theories and studies of multimodality and trans-semiotics and discusses their implications for what to teach and how to teach in today's CLIL classrooms. It proposes the notions of translanguaging and transsemiotizing to emphasize a dynamic and dialogic process of meaning (co)making process drawing on multiple linguistic and semiotic resources to enable students to both gain access to and critically engage in meaning/ knowledge co-making/co-design. Ultimately, it aims at reconceiving CLIL to contribute to a more equitable school and classroom culture. Copyright © 2021 AILA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-261
JournalAILA Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


Liu, J. E., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2021). (Re)conceptualizing “language” in CLIL: Multimodality, translanguaging and trans-semiotizing in CLIL. AILA Review, 34(2), 240-261. https://doi.org/10.1075/aila.21002.liu


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