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Editorial

Complexities abound in CLIL, as does the fact that the CLIL approach has been shown to be a powerful tool for engaging students in the learning of both content and language.

The ICRJ seeks to serve as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of the multiple factors that can impact on CLIL both in positive and negative ways, thereby helping us to foster better practice in teaching. Better performance by teachers and administrators will lead to enhanced student performance and learning.

This issue explores several key factors that can impact on CLIL programmes. CLIL student attitudes and perceptions about their own learning are given particular attention. Equally importantly, designing the evaluation of a substantial CLIL initiative at the primary and secondary level is investigated, as are scientific literacy, and the integration of reading and writing at the university level.

In this issue’s in-focus article David Lasagabaster and Juan Manual Sierra analyse the effect of CLIL on students’ attitudes towards language learning in general. The data pertains to the Basque Country, a region where two languages are in daily use. This study shows that CLIL in English (which is generally the students’ third language) fosters positive attitudes towards language learning in general.

In their research Christiane Dalton-Puffer et al. focus on a fairly neglected field of CLIL teaching and learning, i.e. vocational schools and colleges which have implemented CLIL. Their research interest lies with the attitudes Austrian students have developed towards learning through CLIL. The data elicited comes from two different sources: in-depth interviews with current students, and questionnaires filled out by alumni. The overall results show that even students who are in principle against learning foreign languages develop a positive attitude vis-à-vis language learning in a CLIL environment.

The article by John Airey deals with CLIL at the tertiary level. The author explores how the teaching of a content subject in another language influences the comprehension and development of scientific concepts. The research methodology of the paper is qualitative and innovative: the author makes students describe the concepts gleaned during their learning process both in their native and in the foreign language. The main result of the study – that for some students scientific literacy in a foreign language is a problem – should help make educators more aware of the challenges that learning through a foreign language might present for their students.

The paper by Sonia Casal and Pat Moore investigates the implementation of the Plan to Promote Plurilingualism which was introduced by the Andalusian Government in 2005. One central issue in this plan is the creation of a large number of bilingual sections in Andalusian secondary schools. The research which is quantitative focuses on topics like competence development, teaching organisation, implementation of bilingual models in the classroom, and degree of students’ satisfaction. The results of the research will be particularly valuable to administrators and to institutions intending to introduce CLIL.

Barbara Loranc-Paszylk in her research looks at the potential of reading and writing in the CLIL classroom. She compares a group of undergraduate students who are learning History of European Integration through English with another group who are following a traditional EFL course. An important methodological feature in the CLIL course was that students had to do a larger number of reading and writing assignments than in the traditional course. The results after two semesters showed that the CLIL students had gained a higher competence in the foreign language than their traditional counterparts.

This issue’s in-depth article by Sopia Md Yassin et al. comes from Malaysia. The Malaysian CLIL programme involves over 5.4 million young people. By virtue of its scale and systematic introduction, the Malaysian CLIL programme serves as a rich source of learning on CLIL practice. The authors describe the development and validation of a questionnaire destined to measure pupils’ perceptions towards the teaching of Science through English. The authors validate the questionnaire on the basis of results obtained from two different groups of learners, students with a limited and a non-limited proficiency in English. They conclude that learner perceptions of their CLIL experience, and gaining information on dictionary and computer use by students will help education authorities to better understand how to support students with limited English proficiency.

Thank you to the authors of this issue of the ICRJ. The editorial board welcomes comments and suggestions.

 

London/Essen

Peeter Mehisto, Dieter Wolff