CLIL instead of AICLE: going through the causes of the Great War once more

As a rehearsal for future tasks such as this, in this post I am going to work through my didactic unit about the causes of the Great War once more, but this time using the L2 (that is, English) of my bilingual courses… So, let’s go!

On no account can learning History be considered an exercise of mere memorising; on the contrary, every historical event is the result of an intricate combination of long-term and short-term causes, and therefore its comprehension should imply a deep understanding of causality.


Satyrische Europakarte, dominio público, Library of the Congress,

The Great War is a perfect example of such complexity and thus has been chosen to illustrate the difficulties of teaching (and learning) History in a secondary level, namely for 4º ESO students, within the broader unit entitled ‘Imperialism and the First World War’. For this aim I have used the tools provided by the INTEF online course ‘Uso de Recursos Abiertos (REA) para el aprendizaje integrado de contenidos en lenguas extranjeras (AICLE)‘, along with the template so generously offered by Isabel Pérez in her website, though adapting them to my own needs.


Screenshot of the unit plan ‘Causes of the First World War’. You are free to download it clicking here and adapt it to your needs.

Below you can find some information about the didactic resources I have included in the different tasks, always taking into account the basic scaffolding to make the learning process easier:

TASK 1: 

  • Braistorming in answer to the question: “¿Cómo el progreso imparable experimentado en todos los campos durante el siglo XIX pudo desembocar en la barbarie de una guerra mundial?”
  • Resources:
    • Slide with two opposing images: a word-cloud regarding positive-nuanced vocabulary of what we have learned up to now (, and an image showing the devastation caused by the Great War (

Elaboración propia

  • Their ideas will be recorded in a padlet to work through them at the end of the sessions (

Captura de pantalla del padlet disponible en

  • Goal: Introduction to the topic. It will help remember what has already been studied and find out what they know about the causes of the Great War.

TASK 2: 

  • A-B game: Each group will be given up to 4 fragments of the account of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, and they will have to interact in order to put all the pieces together and in the right order.
  • Resources:
    • Vocabulary sheet on ‘assassination’ (
    • Fragments from
      1. The Archduke’s parade of six cars passed a first conspirator who tried to shoot from the window of an upper floor, but renounced as he could not get a clear shot. A second member did not attempt anything since he was fearful of harming the Duchess. A third member, Nedeljko Čabrinović, threw a bomb on the car of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but in his haste, he did not wait the recommended eight seconds to throw it.
      2. It seems that the prince had time to take the bomb in his hand and to throw it out of his car. The explosion nevertheless destroyed the next car, seriously injuring its passengers, a policeman and several people in the crowd. Čabrinović tried to kill himself by swallowing a cyanide pill and jumping into the river Miljacka.
      3. As the cyanide pill he had taken was old or too low dosed and the tide of river was very low, he failed in his attempt and was arrested. Later in the morning, the Archduke decided to go to the hospital to visit the victims of the bomb. Gavrilo Princip saw his car passing near Latin Bridge, caught it and fired twice.
      4. The first bullet pierced the side of the car and reached the Duchess of Hohenberg in the abdomen, the second bullet struck the Archduke in the neck. Both died of their wounds fifteen minutes later. Like Čabrinović, Princip attempted suicide and failed.
  • Goal: Practising vocabulary and grammar, and getting oral fluency.


  • Once finished, we will analyse the text in the right order, explaining every idea basing on the theory already studied in previous topics.
  • Resource: Map of Europe, 1914 (
  • Goal: Understanding, analysing, reestructuring previous ideas.


  • Multiple choice test in order to make them classificate the Great War causes into long-term and short-term causes, as well as identificate the spark of the conflict.
  • Resource: Quiz Works
  • Goal: Understanding, analysing. It will help deepen the knowledge they have just acquired and reestructure them through cause hierarchy.


  • Forbidden yes/no: Task with the L2 native speaker assistant.
  • Questions prepared with the resources previously worked, to which the students will not be able to answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (as in
  • Goal: Checking content and practising speaking skills.



Screenshot of the crosswrod

  • Goal: Practising vocabulary.


  • Mind map of the different causes which led to the Great War.
  • Example of such type of tool in
  • Goal: Understanding and analysing. Thus the students will be able to roganise and sintetise all the information assimilated throughout the unit.
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