ERG SES D 06, In-service Education
Content and Language Integrated Learning and Teaching (CLIL) approach is now popular and wide-spread language teaching method aimed at developing learners’ communicative competence, their social and academic knowledge. Compared to CLT, the CLIL approach focuses on conveying the content subject matters via the target language, where ‘process over predetermined linguistic context’ (Larsen-Freeman, 2010, p. 137). This is in line with Howatt stating that instead of ‘learning to use English’ learners ‘use English to learn it’ (1984, p. 279). Content and Language Integrated Learning is defined by Coyle et al. (2010) as a teaching method that combines both content and language. Language is here used as an additional tool for teaching both of these. This is in line with the Eurydice report, which states that:
…Achieving this twofold aim calls for the development of a special approach to teaching in that the non-language subject is not taught in a foreign language but with and through a foreign language (Eurydice, 2006, p. 8, emphasis in original).
CLIL is a unique and at some point complicated teaching method which is the result of the mixing of not only the target language but also the subject-specific content. The main difference between CLIL and current known language teaching approaches is its emphasis on the core content (Coyle et al., 2010). One of the main successes of the CLIL approach is due to the fact that it has been transferred to schools across countries and continents (Eurydice, 2006; Graddol, 2006). Currently, the CLIL approach has been successfully implemented across European countries ‘in bilingual and border areas’, and shows evidence of effectively increasing multilingualism (Ioannou-Georgiou and Pavlou, 2010, p. 5).
The main component of CLIL is the existence of clear content learning objectives, as well as language learning objectives that help and give great assistance to students in the learning process in order to understand subject content matter (Laresn-Freeman, 2010). Graddol calls CLIL the ‘ultimate communicative methodology’ (2006, p. 86) and significantly distinguishes it from Communicative Language Teaching method.
The central aim of this research is to explore in-service teachers’ perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of ‘Content and Language Integrated Learning’ (CLIL) that sits within the wider context of the Communicative Language Teaching approach. It is anticipated that this research will inform future teaching practice.
In particular, this research will address several key research questions:
- How do teachers’ across different contexts conceptualize and operationalize the CLIL approach?
- What are the advantages of CLIL from the perspectives of English language and other subjects’ teachers?
- What are the disadvantages of CLIL from the perspectives of English language and other subjects’ teachers?
The research questions presented above are studied through the lens of Ajzen’s (1991) conceptual framework: Theory of Planned Behavior. The theory promulgates the view that an individual’s intention to perform a behavior vastly depends on the combination of individual’s attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavior control (Ajzen, 1991; Ajzen & Madden, 1986; Ajzen and Fishbein, 1977). “Consequently, individuals are likely to perform certain behaviors, if they evaluate these positively, if they perceive that they have some control over the consequences of such behaviors and if they believe that social pressures are being exerted on them to perform these behaviors (Ajzen and Fishbein 1977 cited in Subban & Mahlo, 2017, p. 442). That is to say, in-service teachers’ perspectives and attitudes (either positive or negative) straightforwardly influence on their behavior, i.e. intentions to implement the Content and Language Integrated Learning approach in their teaching practices.
The prerequisites for adopting qualitative research methods derive from the inquiry of real lived experiences and practices to inform practice. This is in line with Ritchie et al. stating that a qualitative research includes: aims which are directed at providing an in-depth and interpreted understanding of the social world of research participants by learning about their social and material circumstances, their experiences, perspectives, and histories (Ritchie et al., 2013, p. 3). Qualitative research methods were chosen, as they were the most appropriate for the given study. This is because the method allows for the opportunity to explore perspectives, experiences and provide thick and in-depth data. This included the conduct of small-scaled face-to-face semi-structured interview protocol. This protocol included a series of relevant questions and probes. It was used to guide the discussion to ensure all participants were offered the same opportunities to discuss relevant issues. This was done using a set of 14 questions with 12 leading sub-questions. The inclusion criterion was to recruit teachers with knowledge and experience of the language-learning techniques. The data were collected from language teachers and other subjects’ teachers who worked in two different contexts (1 from an English speaking country, and 2 from non-English speaking country). Language teachers from two different locations (convenience sampling – i.e. known to the researcher) were invited to participate: • School A. Teachers working in this private language center were interviewed, as the school’s main methodology is based on the CLIL approach. • School B. This school is located in a bilingual community with two: state and official languages. However, the school strictly follows a ‘Trilingual Policy’ and works with Cambridge University. An English-medium instruction at secondary school is believed to be a good means of improving the learners’ proficiency in English. That is why there were not only English language teachers but also 12 teachers of other subjects among the interviewees. In general, 30 teachers including 12 other subject teachers participated in this study.
This study is conducted in order to establish views, in-service teachers’ perspectives and learn from their experience about CLIL. The qualitative study was based on thematic data analysis of face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The results of this study point to several significant conclusions and include the limitations of this study as well as recommendations for further research. This research is unique and a contribution to the field because not all the interviewees speak only their native language. Teaching through the medium of English is especially important because the majority of the study participants are either bilingual or plurilingual teachers who possess additional linguistic capital as they teach in English. The main themes identified and addressed in this study are teachers’ knowledge and conceptualization of CLIL across contexts, an assessment system that further leads to either positive or negative washback effect in particular schools and overwhelming benefits for learners rather than teachers.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behaviour. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50 (1). 179–211. Ajzen, I., and Madden, T. J. (1986). Prediction of goal-directed behavior: Attitudes, intentions, and perceived behavioral control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 453-474. Ajzen, I., and M. Fishbein. (1977). Attitude-Behaviour Relations: A Theoretical Analysis and Review of Empirical Research. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 888–918. Coyle, D., Hood, P., and Marsh, D. (2010). Content and language integrated learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Eurydice (2006). Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) at School in Europe, Brussels: Eurydice. Graddol, D. (2006). English next. London: British Council. Howatt, A. P. (1984). A history of English language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ioannou-Georgiou, S. and Pavlou, P. (2010). Guidelines for CLIL Implementation in Primary and Pre-primary Education. Cyprus: Cyprus Pedagogical Institute. Larsen-Freeman, D. (2010). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M. and Ormston, R. (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Subban, P., and Mahlo, D. (2017). ‘My Attitude, My Responsibility’ Investigating the Attitudes and Intentions of Pre-Service Teachers Toward Inclusive Education Between Teacher Preparation Cohorts in Melbourne and Pretoria, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(4), 441-461.
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