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ECML PROGRAMME - Programme 2012-2015

A pluriliteracies approach to teaching for learning

A pluriliteracies approach builds on CLIL approaches to help learners become better meaning-makers, who can draw on content knowledge to communicate successfully across languages, disciplines and cultures. In this way it promotes deep learning and helps develop responsible, global citizens.


Workshop, 2-3 June 2015


On June 2/3, participants from 30 ECML member states gathered in Graz for the final workshop of our project. In activities and tasks around the five principles for pluriliteracies teaching and learning, participants spent those two days deep-learning our pluriliteracies approach by co-constructing their understanding through a number of languaging activities. In groups, the teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum writers and ministry officials created their own versions of the five principles underlying the Pluriliteracies Approach to Teaching for Learning, thus making them accessible to the newcomers to the project. These new renderings of the principles will be uploaded right beside our text on “Putting Pluriliteracies into Practice” to enable readers a multifaceted and scaffold reading experience which we seriously hope will increase the usefulness and acceptance of our model. Participants also created a FAQ section that will be made available on the project website thus, again, scaffolding the readers’ access and understanding of the model. Both the team members and our guests were excited by the creative and warm atmosphere or – as one guest from Ireland aptly put it – “I haven’t felt this inspired since College.”

National support event

14-16 May 2015
"Súčasné výzvy cudzojazyčného vzdelávania na Slovensku: ako ďalej?" /
"Défis contemporains sur l´enseignement des langues étrangères en Slovaquie: comment poursuivre?"
Conference held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic
Venue: Nitra, Slovak Republic
Organisation: Slovak Ministry of Education, Bratislava ; SlovakEdu, o.z., Nitra ; National Pedagogical Institute, Bratislava ; Faculty of Arts of the University of Prešov ; Faculty of Education,  Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra 
Local contact: Prof. Pokrivcakova, scientific and organising head of the conference
ECML expert: presentation by Kevin Schuck, team member of the ECML project “Literacies through CLIL” (2012-2015)
Website of the conference

Expert meeting, 19-20 March 2015

Information coming soon

Project developments in 2014

2014 was an exceptional year for the ECML CLIL and Pluriliteracies Project.  In 2014, we finalized the “Graz Group Model for CLIL and Pluriliteracies” which brings together both theory and practice.  The theoretical basis of the Model was consolidated with input from not only international Guest Experts and Researchers of CLIL methodology and pedagogy, but also international experts of language education, academic discourse, functional linguistics etc.

In addition to an academic foundation, the Model was then rendered “practical” by presenting it to Expert CLIL teachers during our workshop in June.  On that occasion, these CLIL practitioners enriched the Model with invaluable insight from their everyday classroom experience: not only did this link theory to practice, input from these teachers has also helped make the Model teacher-friendly and teacher-useful.  Support from ECML has made it possible to bring together academic-experts and expert-teachers: we now have a finalized the Graz Group Model for CLIL and Pluriliteracies”.

Members of the Core Team, as well as some of the Guest Experts have introduced The Graz Group Model in plenaries at a number of international conferences across Europe, South America and Asia.  The ECML Graz Group Model has also been used at teacher-training workshops and free-access webinars where the potential of CLIL for educating towards academic and disciplinary literacy has been made explicit

In addition, the article entitled “A pluriliteracies approach to content and language integrated learning: developing learner progression in academic knowledge construction and meaning-making through an additional language“ will appear in a special edition on Content and Language Integrated Learning in the Journal Language, Culture and Curriculum (February 2015).

As planned, the final phase of this Project has been and will be devoted to developing the ECML CLIL-Pluriliteracies Website which will make available a wealth of information regarding the potential of CLIL for pluriliteracies development.  For exampled, the Model will become an interactive “click and go” walk through materials that illustrates how and why CLIL provides an ideal context for developing pluriliteracies.  Some pragmatic concerns regarding CLIL and pluriliteracies will be addressed:

1.      What types of literacies are needed for the 21st century citizen,

2.      Why does pluriliteracies matter and what does it mean for my CLIL classroom?

3.      How can I adopt the pluriliteracies model, terms and principles to potentiate my classroom practice?

4.      How do the 4Cs fit support the model and what does this mean for lesson planning and material design?

5.      What are some examples of literacies-focused learning progressions and learning materials;

6.      Can I still use my existing materials: how can they be adapted so to implement a pluriliteracies approach and increase students’ meaning-making potential?

7.      What does a “literacies learning progression” look like and what are the “literacies learning milestones” I and my learners can identify.

These are just some of the questions the interactive multilevel website will address through text, videos, audios, learning materials, thought-pieces etc.  An important note is that all information in this Pluriliteracies Teacher’s Guide will be written in teacher-accessible language and where possible, in different European languages.

Expert meeting 2, 10 -11 November 2014


Network meeting, 17-18 June 2014



For the 2014 network meeting the project group invited CLIL teachers from all across Europe to Graz. Together, the teachers covered a wide range of content subjects (History, Geography, Social Sciences, Biology, Chemistry) and age groups (from pre-primary to upper-secondary).

After being introduced to the pluriliteracies model by the Graz Group, the invited experts used the team’s planning template to write teaching materials for their respective subjects to illustrate how the idea of literacies progressions can be implemented on a practical level spanning various age groups and literacy ranges.

Additional input from renowned experts Helmut Johannes Vollmer and Rachel Whittaker on cognitive-linguistic-functions and systemic functional linguistics and ways of applying these concepts to help CLIL learners to conceptualize and communicate content, greatly contributed to the quality of the workshop.

The invited teachers will finish the materials, use them in their classroom and send feedback as well as student output which will be published in the project’s final output, the CLIL guide to Pluriliteracies.


Expert meeting, 13-14 January 2014

During the second Expert Meeting on January 13th and 14th the project team worked on clarifying the relation of the model developed by the Graz Group with other developments in the fields of CLIL, educational linguistics and the Council of Europe policies. We became aware of the extent to which the characteristic division between language and content in CLIL is felt to be no longer productive, since the meaning making function of language integrates the two elements making them inextricable. This is the reason why the model developed becomes powerful, as it integrates both dimensions into one learning space which can be conceptualised as literacy development in its widest sense: across languages, across subjects and genres, and across modes of communication. This is in line with the Council of Europe’s reconceptualization of language to include all languages in an individual’s life as well as its current focus on the development of literacies.

The meeting also allowed us to plan the next steps in the project involving both contributions to the discussions in CLIL and educational linguistics generally, and the way in which the model is to be made accessible for teachers. This more practical aspect will be worked on with the help of a group of expert teachers in the network meeting in June.

Literacies through content and language integrated learning: effective learning across subjects and languages

Since its launch with the Expert Meeting in January (15-17, 2013), this project has achieved the desired quality dialogue needed to move Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) well beyond its initial conception as “more foreign language learning”, into a new era for CLIL in which attention to the Content and Language of Learning naturally leads to “Educating for Literacy”. To truly master knowledge, learners must master the language of the discipline, be able to both assimilate and evaluate information presented through disciplinary discourse and likewise communicate content knowledge using appropriate language for the communicative purpose at hand: i.e. literacy – academic, disciplinary, graphic, digital. To date, CLIL classrooms have hesitated to move beyond “language” into “literacy”, resulting in fluent and confident speakers who may not, however, be accurate and eloquent writers.
This is lack of academic literacy is not a problem unique to CLIL but affects education in general, even in the mother tongue. Comparative studies clearly indicate that lacking command of academic language strongly impacts subject specific task performance and prevents a deeper understanding of content. In other words, our students’ meaning making potential, which is the ability to successfully ‘language’ subject specific conceptual knowledge, is key to successful knowledge acquisition and transfer.
As learners progress from primary into secondary and tertiary education, disciplinary content becomes deeper and disciplinary discourse becomes more specialized and more difficult to manage, thus becoming, for those outside the disciplinary community, a challenge of understanding alien concepts in a foreign language. Research has shown that upper secondary content teachers often believe that the remedy for ineffective writing can only come from the language teacher while language teachers may find the content information too alien to comfortably “language about”.  Therefore, as students need increasingly more guidance with literacy, they are actually receiving less.
Literacy is the ability to use language appropriately to engage with and expand into respective communities of practice. This calls upon ‘control’ over a wide range of primary and secondary discourses. The linking of language and learning thus becomes essential for building an individual’s meaning making potential. The goal of this project is thus to enable teachers of all disciplines to become able cultivators of literacy.
It is the explicit goal of this project to develop such a model for the acquisition of pluriliteracies that is both theoretically sound and applicable by teachers. Based on the initial concepts developed within the core group, the model was further refined during the network meeting with the support of a group of eight European and Canadian experts.

THe Graz Group


left to right: Helmut Vollmer, Gerrit-Ian Koopman, Irina Hawker, David Lasagabaster, Ana Halbach, Do Coyle, Roy Lyster, Oliver Meyer; front row: Teresa Ting, Christiane Dalton-Puffer, Rachel Whittaker, Ana Llinares, Kevin Schuck)

The Graz Group unites a team of international experts and practitioners in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) who believe that attention to literacies development, be it in a foreign or first language, provides a pragmatic means to radically improve both subject as well as foreign language learning. To mainstream the integration of subject learning with language learning in different sectors of education, learning must be re-modelled to not only support subject learning in cognitively challenging ways but to do so with pluriliteracies in mind.

To become pluriliterate learners, the role of language in literacies development must be brought to the fore: The Graz Group will critically evaluate existing concepts of literacies and pilot an alternative approach to language development in integrated learning contexts. In particular, we will evaluate how the incorporation of literacy-driven and meaning making focused language development supports the acquisition of subject understanding and also the acquisition of disciplinary skills and competencies.

Shared ownership of evolving theoretical and practical perspectives with teachers and teacher educators will come through the implementation of a trans-European classroom-based study. Data will be used to develop a working model and toolkit for transforming CLIL practice: both research process and product will thus be developed, evaluated, adapted and disseminated by practitioners.

The team believes that attention to language and literacy development can shift the focus of education away from “teaching” onto “learning”, thus catalyzing changes in classroom practice. The Pluriliteracies Model will provide classroom practitioners with relevant insights and guidelines, and hence be of wide interest to decision-makers across Europe and beyond.



First expert meeting, 15-17 January 2013


We are conceptualizing and piloting an interdisciplinary model for learning through more than one language. This model focuses on an approach to academic development which brings together meaning making and pluriliteracies. Effective meaning making, at the core of pluriliteracies, is a dynamic iterative process predicated on progression in academic reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Progression demands a learning environment conducive to developing academic literacies across different languages and subjects, moving learners through knowledge pathways which involve a variety of sequenced and scaffolded tasks and text types. Together, these cultivate a deepening awareness of genres and strategies which enable the skills to be schematized and automatized, thereby improving academic performance.


Our approach is based on a principle of inclusive education whereby learners are empowered to negotiate meaning across disciplines and cultures, thereby strengthening leaners' pluriliterate profile. 




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Project workshop in 2015 - if you wish to participate click here and contact your National Nominating Authority