CLIP uses a content-based approach to English language instruction. Students develop their language skills through courses that introduce topics in history, literature, science and the arts. They read fiction and non-fiction, and draft and revise essays in response to their reading. They conduct Internet and library research and make oral presentations. CLIP students also visit museums and civic institutions relevant to their coursework.

Through the exploration of academic content, students develop their knowledge base while they improve their reading, writing, oral communication and research skills—the academic literacies needed for success in college. Each semester students begin a new course, at a more advanced level of language proficiency, in a new content area. (Sample course descriptions and texts.)

Each CLIP site has a dedicated computer lab. Students use the lab to write, revise and edit. They learn how to find and evaluate online information relevant to their reading, writing and research projects. They also use programs such as PowerPoint to synthesize and present their findings. CLIP teachers use classroom management programs that students are likely to encounter in college.

Navigating college can be daunting for ESL students. In CLIP, students learn the essentials about going to college, including information about credits, GPAs, transcripts, GenED Requirements, and financial aid. CLIP students explore majors and careers. The program links students to college services such as academic and career counseling and financial aid. CLIP instructors invite college professors to present in their classes and CLIP students visit college departments to learn about programs. CLIP alumni, now successful college students and graduates, serve as mentors and advisors to current CLIP students.