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Editorial

Welcome to this issue of the ICRJ. It is published at a time when the implications of the new Europe 2020 strategy on education are becoming widespread. This focuses on the need for educational transformation to be closely aligned to the outcomes of scientific and other forms of research endeavour. The education and training strategy for 2020 specifically argues for inter-disciplinary moves towards building of evidence bases by which to provide a foundation for wise and informed decision-making in education. It acknowledges that many countries in the world, including within Europe, are in profound crisis having lost some twenty years of progress in two years; that education has to change in many contexts; and that stakeholders need to work with science in order to produce evidence-based solutions.

In continuing to further establish the CLIL evidence-base we are pleased to include eight articles in this issue, which represent inter-disciplinary interests ongoing in the field. Our in-focus article is by Yen-Ling Teresa Ting (Italy) who discusses how insight into CLIL connects to the newly emerging understanding of the brain. She suggests that science education is failing to equip learners with a secure grasp of concepts underlying natural everyday phenomena; and that CLIL can be effectively used for teaching science, and act as a significant approach for reaping additional benefits.

Francesca Costa (Italy) and James A. Coleman (United Kingdom) explore the potential role of CLIL in tertiary education. Their article reports on ongoing research in Italy regarding situations where teaching takes place through the medium of English. This article focuses on what happens at the linguistic and cognitive interface between students and staff in higher education learning environments.

Julian Sudhoff (Germany) examines the use of CLIL as a platform for achieving intercultural communicative competence. Acknowledging that globalisation involves increased cooperation and communication across cultures, the dual focused nature of CLIL is viewed as providing an ideal environment to initiate intercultural learning.

Josephine Moate (Finland) takes us back to exploring the integrated nature of CLIL so as to explicate this from a socio-cultural perspective. Her article looks at both the role of the language as the primary tool mediating the construction of knowledge and understanding, and the potential that ‘exploratory talk’ holds for the co-construction of learning. Sopia Md Yassin, Ong Eng Tek, Hashimah Alimon, Sadiah Baharom, and Lai Ying Ying (Malaysia) present a study of an on-going project on the impact on students involved with the national teaching of science through English. Although aware that the substantial and controversial English-medium education programme in Malaysia was introduced without specific reference to CLIL, this article provides insight into teacher discourse and student thinking skills in an L2 classroom context.

Mª Luz Celaya and Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe present a study that seeks to shed light on the interrelationship between foreign language acquisition, type of exposure and age in school contexts by analysing the influence of the learners’ two first languages (Catalan and Spanish, for two groups of learners, and Basque and Spanish, for three groups) in CLIL and non-CLIL programmes. The results show a link between the type of programme and the production of borrowings. Age (and possibly language typology) is strongly linked to the production of lexical inventions.

Anna Várkuti (Hungary) writes about the linguistic benefits of CLIL. This compares two forms of language learning in Hungary by exploring English language achievement of CLIL secondary school students and those of non-CLIL intensive foreign language learners. The outcomes reveal that the CLIL students have significantly better skills in applying their broader lexical knowledge in various context-embedded conversational situations, as well as in taking into account grammar rules, text coherence and sociolinguistic context. The CLIL students also do significantly better in handling problems, which demand more subtle meanings and sophisticated grammar, alongside higher meta-linguistic awareness. In many respects this article takes us back to the initial in-focus contribution by Yen-Ling Teresa Ting in throwing light on results emerging from the neurosciences on language learning, acquisition and use.

Finally, we come to the in-depth article on a lexical framework for CLIL contributed by John Eldridge, Steve Neufeld and Nilgun Hancioğlu (Turkey). This article argues that advances in understanding of lexical patterning and frequency have profound implications for CLIL through development of a corpus-informed approach towards vocabulary learning.

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

 

Jyväskylä / London / Wuppertal

David Marsh, Peeter Mehisto, Dieter Wolff