Review on "The comprehending teacher: scaffolding in content and language integrated learning (CLIL)" by Mahan, K. R. (2020)

Content and language integrated learning has attracted educators around the globe to quantitatively examine and qualitatively explore it in various settings.

Cite the reviewed journal: Mahan, K. R. (2020). The comprehending teacher: scaffolding in content and language integrated learning (CLIL). The Language Learning Journal, 1–15.


The study explores teachers use of scaffolding strategies in supporting students learning English as second language in a content and language integrated learning (CLIL) classroom.

The operational definition of CLIL accepted in the study is "a bilingual teaching approach defined as an additional language integrated into a non-language subject" (Coyle, Hood and Marsh 2010: 1).


The study analysed the total of 12 video taken in CLIL classroom where 3 CLIL subjects - science, geography, & social science - were taught. The author reported that 12 hours of CLIL teaching were observed and analysed.

In analyzing the data, PLATO - which is a teacher-centred observation manual that describes 12 teaching aspects (Grossman et al. 2013) - was applied. PLATO was chosen for its capability in identifying, labeling, and measuring the teaching practices across subjects, and the scaffolding field calls for reliable and valid instruments of measurement (van de Pol, Volman and Beishuizen 2010).

PLATO is capable of classifying elements onto a 1-to-4 scale. Raters assign scores for every 15-minute segment of video data. The data consisted of approximately 10 segments per-subject.

A score of 1 or 2 signifies low-end teaching, and a score of 3 or 4 signifies high-end teaching. Low-end teaching indicates no evidence (score 1) to little evidence (score 2) of an element, whereas high-end teaching indicates limited evidence (score 3) to strong and consistent evidence (score 4). This study uses the percentage of segments that score within high-end teaching. For example, a score of 80% means that eight of the 10 segments scored a 3 or 4.