My French PE lesson

Florentina Popescu
13th October 2016 at 17:46

Subject Genius, Florentina Popescu, My French PE lesson

I have the privilege to work with one of the best PE teachers I know. Her name is Charlotte and we’ve been sharing not only the same office this year, but the same ideas, sometimes, and the same passion for teaching. Charlotte is able to send an e-mail, set up the equipment for her PE lesson or answer some children’s questions nearly at the same time. I’ve learnt so many new things from her this year and occasionally I’ve replaced my high heel shoes and my dress with my PE kit, just to join in with some events such as cross country or Sports Relief. 

But the event I have enjoyed the most was sports week, at the end of the summer term.  It was a great chance for me to familiarise myself with one of the new methods in teaching a foreign language: Content and Language Integrated Learning. Shortly- CLIL.

A few months ago I decided to give it a go and try an online course. I have to confess that I was suspicious before starting it, as I didn’t imagine an online course could bring too much satisfaction - or at least not for me.  Surprisingly,  I’ve just loved it! In four weeks I’ve learnt so much! The course is named ‘’Understanding languages’’ ( and it worked for me from two perspectives: as a foreign language teacher and as a non-native English speaker- so, a language learner at the same time.  Content and Language Integrated Learning, which is, in a few words, a subject lesson transmitted in a foreign language. The basic principles are that in a CLIL classroom the target language is used to learn as well as to communicate, and it is the subject matter which determines the language needed to learn (British Council).

Subject Genius, Florentina Popescu, My French PE lesson

With this is mind and with Charlotte’s passion for organising sports week, with a great amount of work and dedication, I’ve stepped in. This was the time for me to use CLIL. So, instead of teaching French that week, I taught PE for one week. In French.

My pupils seemed to enjoy every minute of the lesson. We’ve got dressed in our PE kits, we’ve learnt basic instructions and, as a challenge, they worked in small teams trying to perform a dance to match with a great French song: Lève-toi et bouge! ( ). Each team had a leader to give instructions in French about the steps they needed to follow. What a great opportunity to revise the body parts, what a good way to try something different and, most of all, what a chance to prove, once again, that learning a foreign language is fun!
A CLIL lesson is therefore not a language lesson neither is it a subject lesson transmitted in a foreign language. According to the 4Cs curriculum (Coyle 1999), a successful CLIL lesson should combine elements of the following:
  • Content - Progression in knowledge, skills and understanding related to specific elements of a defined curriculum
  • Communication - Using language to learn whilst learning to use language
  • Cognition - Developing thinking skills which link concept formation (abstract and concrete), understanding and language
  • Culture - Exposure to alternative perspectives and shared understandings, which deepen awareness of otherness and self.
(British Council)



Florentina Popescu is a French teacher at J and C Academy in north-west London.