The Future of Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

Subject content learning in CLIL: Do learners transfer conceptual content from the foreign language to their L1?

MARIA BASTERRECHEA, UNIVERSITY OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY (UPV/EHU) (Spain)

Abstract

Content and language integrated learning (hereinafter CLIL) has been defined as an educational approach with a dual focus on content and language, an approach that has spread throughout Europe during the last decade. In CLIL at least two languages are used to teach various subjects in the curriculum, one of which is the language used in mainstream education (generally the official state language), and the other a target language, independently of language lessons [4]. One of the observations made by scholars and practitioners is that CLIL has been highly influenced by language acquisition theories, which stress the importance of language learning, and, therefore, subject-content learning is overlooked [1]. Although research has been carried out regarding general discourse features (e.g., [2], [3]), the acquisition of vocabulary (e.g., [6]), writing skills (op. cit.) or morphosyntactic features (e.g., [2], [7], [5]), little is known about whether CLIL negatively affects subject-matter content learning. The present small-scale study examines if CLIL learners would be able to reproduce the content of a subject-specific text both in the foreign language (English) and first language (Basque or Spanish) and how these written productions are related.

The study was carried out in the Basque Autonomous Community (B.A.C.) in an intact classroom with 16 adolescent bilingual learners (Basque and Spanish) in their last year of compulsory secondary education. The learners were asked to listen to a text from their course materials used in their History class about The Berlin Wall; they were asked to take down notes as they listened. Subsequently they reconstructed the same passage using the notes they had previously taken. Finally, they reproduced the passage in one of their native languages (Basque or Spanish). Results pointed to a positive relationship between the learners’ production of subject content in the L2 in CLIL and the reproduction of that same content in their L1.

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