23 SES 09 E, Mixed Session
Background: Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a European model of bilingual education that has been implemented throughout the continent since the early 1990s and keeps gaining ground also in other parts of the world. It refers to the use of a foreign language as the medium of instruction in content subjects such as history, physics or geography. CLIL has been supported by EU policies and seen as an important means to realize its policies related to multilingualism (e.g. Coyle, Hood & Marsh 2010). Research has indicated that CLIL has potential to enhance FL learning through adding authenticity to FL learning and use; it can also support content learning through enhanced cognitive challenge (e.g. Dalton-Puffer, Nikula & Smit 2010). However, also critical voices have been raised towards CLIL, arguing that good outcomes may reflect selected student material rather than merits of the approach as such, and expressing concerns that CLIL as a form of ‘elite bilingual education’, in the words of de Mejía 2002, may increase rather than decrease inequality between students (Bruton 2011). What also has become evident is that CLIL implementations are very heterogeneous, with different socio-political contexts further adding to this (Sylvén 2013). Therefore, a better understanding of the motivations, implementations and outcomes of CLIL requires close analyses of it in its local contexts. In this presentation, we focus on discourses of CLIL in Finland, with particular reference to the relationship between CLIL and ideology of equality as a cornerstone and guiding principle of Finnish education, providing insights of the nature of this relationship that can be taken into consideration in other CLIL contexts and countries as well.
Objectives: To examine CLIL from the perspective of equality of education and access in the context of Finnish comprehensive education by drawing on national and local curricula and policy documents, survey questionnaires directed to municipalities, and teacher interviews.
Research questions: The presentation will address the following questions: 1) How are access to and criteria for entrance to CLIL described and justified in different types of data? 2) How do these descriptions relate to the principle of equality in Finnish comprehensive education?
Theoretical framework and methodology: The reported study combines applied language studies and research on language education policies. Based on the presenters’ earlier work (Nikula, Saarinen & Skinnari 2015), perceptions of and policies on CLIL are approached as multi-sited, i.e. as multi-layered, multi-spatial and situated, and interconnected in several instances and levels (Halonen, Ihalainen & Saarinen 2015); this also necessitates the use of multiple data sets to examine the phenomenon. This is a qualitative study combining content and discourse analysis. In concrete terms, this means exploring data for instances dealing with questions of access to CLIL and paying attention to ways in which access is textually and discursively construed, and with what implications for its implementation.
Results and implications: The results indicate several tensions concerning CLIL and equality. For example, the official view of CLIL as open and available for all, also noted by a recent survey on bilingual education (Peltoniemi et al., forthcoming), is counterbalanced by initial tests in CLIL programmes that are exclusive, especially as regards students with migrant backgrounds. The reasons for testing may lie in the programmes becoming quickly filled or the schools and municipalities wanting to ensure, in accordance with the national core curriculum (FNCC 2014), that students’ progress is not endangered by bilingual education. The introduction of excluding testing practices is not the only inequality issue concerning CLIL. In addition, the presentation will describe how there are tensions relating to, for example, nationally and regionally uneven distribution of CLIL, to the fit of CLIL to different types of students, to socio-economic factors, and to the status of the instructional language. The results of the study have implications both at policy and practice level in ways that extend beyond the Finnish context. From policy perspective, it is crucial for the coherent development of CLIL to ensure that the guidelines and regulations for CLIL are similar rather than drawing to different directions, and that school districts and/or municipalities address the caveats relating to equal distribution of CLIL provision. From practice point of view, the results invite the schools implementing CLIL to become aware of the possibility of hidden agendas associated with their testing practices and to develop strategies that ensure equal access to CLIL regardless of student background.
Bruton, A. 2011. Is CLIL so beneficial, or just selective? Re-evaluating some of the research. System, 39, 523-532 Coyle, D., Hood, P., & Marsh, D. 2010. CLIL. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dalton-Puffer, C., Nikula, T. & Smit, U. 2010. Language use and language learning in CLIL: Current findings and contentious issues. In C. Dalton-Puffer, U. Smit & T. Nikula (eds.) Language use and language learning in CLIL classrooms. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 279-292. De Mejía, A.-M. 2002. Power, Prestige and Bilingualism: International Perspectives on Elite Bilingual Education. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. FNCC 2014: Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education 2014. Helsinki: Finnish National Board of Education. Publications 2016: 5. Halonen, M., Ihalainen, P. & Saarinen, T. (eds.) 2015. Language Policies in Finland and Sweden: Interdisciplinary and Multi-sited Comparisons. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Nikula, T., Saarinen, T. & Skinnari, K. 2015. A multi-sited exploration of CLIL: political pedagogies, pedagogical policies. A paper presented in ‘Bridging Language Acquisition and Language Policy Symposium’, University of Lund. Peltoniemi, A. Skinnari, K., Mård-Miettinen, K. & Sjöberg, S.. (forthcoming) Report on bilingual education in Finland. Helsinki: Ministry of Education and Culture. Sylvén, L-K. 2013. CLIL in Sweden - why does it not work? A metaperspective on CLIL across contexts in Europe. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(3) 310-320.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
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