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Primary CLIL and Its Stakeholders: What Children, Parents and Teachers Think of the Potential Merits and Pitfalls of CLIL Modules in Primary Teaching

Ute Massler
Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten

Abstract

The perspectives of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) teachers and secondary school learners have been of interest to German researchers for some time, whereas the perspectives of primary school children and their parents concerning CLIL have been largely neglected. Researching the perspectives of all aforementioned stakeholder groups offers insights into issues that are important for the successful implementation of CLIL.

Beginning with a discussion of context and data collection, this article presents some results from research on the perspectives of the respective stakeholder groups. It then relates reported stakeholder perspectives from this study with findings from other relevant studies. Finally, the implications of stakeholder perspectives for the implementation of CLIL are discussed.

 

Keywords: primary CLIL, stakeholder research, implementation

1. Introduction

A number of studies concerning foreign language teaching convincingly suggest that the perspectives of learners, parents and teachers inform and illuminate the very conditions of learning and teaching (e.g. Johnson, 1999; Schocker-v. Ditfurth, 2001). In the context of German CLIL research, several research studies focus on the perspectives of CLIL teachers and learners (cf. Meyer, 2003b; Dirks, 2004; Müller-Schneck, 2006; Viebrock, 2007). While these studies focus on teachers and learners at secondary schools, only a few studies on the implementation and running of CLIL and immersion programmes are seen to have so far tried to elicit and assess teacher, parental and student perspectives and their implications for programme implementation at primary schools (Massler and Steiert, 2010). This is highly problematic given that these groups contribute significantly to the success of any educational initiative (Fullan, 1993) be they concerned with CLIL or otherwise. This lack of research can distort the way in which CLIL implementation may be understood and formulated, since data significant to the entire process is lacking. Therefore, the ProCLIL project – the aims and results of which will be described in the following sections – focused on, among other aspects, researching CLIL learners’ and CLIL teachers’ perspectives at primary schools.

2. Context and data collection

2.1 Project description and aims

The ProCLIL project was a COMENIUS 2.1 action financed by the European Union (EU) over a three-year period (10/2006-09/2009). It involved six teacher training institutions from four countries – Cyprus, Germany, Spain, and Turkey. Investigating the implementation and effectiveness of CLIL as a pedagogical procedure in primary and pre-primary education as well as launching CLIL modules were important project aims. During year one, the initial phase of the project, primary teachers were recruited and trained in CLIL and a literature review was conducted. Lessons taught by two ProCLIL teachers already teaching CLIL in a modular approach were observed, CLIL materials were developed and research instruments were designed. Year two and three saw the implementation of CLIL modules and the elicitation of students’, teachers’ and parents’ perspectives (for a detailed description of the study see Ioannou-Georgiou and Pavlou, 2010; Massler and Burmeister, 2010).

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2.2 Setting: Schools and children

The results discussed below refer to data collected in six German primary schools which volunteered to participate in the study (cf. Table 1). Twelve teachers from these schools joined the ProCLIL project. After the second year, four teachers left the project. Two argued that their English skills were insufficient, one considered her class to be too weak to cope with CLIL and the fourth found the workload that resulted from CLIL to be excessive. Thus, during the two-year implementation phase eight ProCLIL teachers taught CLIL throughout the study. All ProCLIL schools taught children from Grade one to Grade four. The number of children per class was on average 20, involving approximately 475 children in total. Students ranged from six to ten years in age. All schools were state schools and employed teachers who were non-native speakers of English. All but one school were located in rural areas. All ProCLIL schools were free to implement CLIL as they saw fit in order to meet their needs and take into account capacities. Most teachers chose subjects from the humanities such as Art, Music, Sports and from the natural and the social sciences (Geography, Biology, History). Due to their limited or non-existent experience with CLIL, as well as a lack of CLIL classroom materials, all of the teachers opted for a modular approach. Most modules consisted of four to five 45-minutes lessons per week over the course of two to three weeks. Per annum between four and six modules were taught. This implies that teachers presumed that full-time CLIL implementation would require too much preparation time and lead to an excessive increase in workload. Teachers further assumed that a modular approach would be more appropriate to their students’ abilities and would be more likely to get the approval of parents, colleagues, and head teachers. The project team saw this as an opportunity to test whether CLIL modules could contribute to building teacher, student and administrator confidence in the CLIL option and to reducing resistance to it. In addition, it was thought that a successful CLIL experience could encourage these stakeholders to become more engaged in planning for the development of more extensive CLIL programming.

Table 1: Number of schools, teachers and classes involved in the two-year Pro-CLIL project

  2008 2009
Schools 6 4
Teachers 12 8
Classes 6 x Grade 1
3 x Grade 2
4 x Grade 3
2 x Grade 4
2 x Grade 1
5 x Grade 2
2 x Grade 3
4 x Grade 4

2.3 Method

2.3.1 Research methodology

The study sought to explore how primary school teachers, learners, and parents perceive CLIL at the beginning and at the end of the implementation process by describing and interpreting extensively and in detail participants’ experiences and attitudes (Caspari et al., 2003: 499). Given the complex nature of such a task, the research team decided to use a standardised qualitative research approach. Such explorative-interpretative longitudinal case studies strive to integrate all participants’ perspectives on the research process; they are a valued form of “naturalistic inquiry […] for their illuminating insights and vivid exemplars […] permit in-depth studies of individuals, settings, or interactions” (Bailey, 1999: 3).

Although the original intention was to assess all stakeholder-groups’ perspectives in a longitudinal study, this was not possible for several reasons. First of all, finding teachers willing to participate in the study proved to be problematic, primarily because most teachers theoretically interested in CLIL either feared the additional workload or had already taken on other responsibilities. Therefore, the sample had to include teachers who taught different classes for different lengths of time. As a consequence, only about half of the children experienced continuous CLIL instruction during the two-year project. Accordingly, only these parents participated in the study. The other half of participants completed primary school after Grade four to attend secondary school (where the ProCLIL project was not being conducted) or entered school (Grade 1) after the first year of CLIL implementation had been completed. Therefore, their parents did not participate in the study. Furthermore, some teachers chose not to give the questionnaires to the children or their parents of their Grade three or Grade four classes because of time constraints. Thus, three of these classes in 2008 and two in 2009 were not included in the questionnaire survey. Grade one and Grade two students were not included in the survey sample as the research team felt that they were too young to answer the questions adequately.

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Table 2: Overview of interviews and questionnaires conducted in 2008 and 2009

  Interviews Questionnaires
2008 12 entrance interviews
+ 4 exit interviews (teachers)
 
32 children:
2x4 children (Grade 3)
2x6 children (Grade 4)
2x6 children (Grade 4)
49 out of 55 children from 3 classes:
2 x Grade 3 + 1 x Grade 4
  49 parents of Grade 3 and 4:
2 x Grade 3 + 2 x Grade 4
response rate: 61 % (49 out of 80 questionnaires)
2009 8 exit interviews (teachers)  
  127 children of Grade 3 + 4:
2 x Grade 3 + 2 x Grade 4
  164 parents of 7 classes:
2 x Grade 1, 1 x Grade 2, 2 x Grade 3, 2 x Grade 4
response rate: 68 % (162 out of 236 questionnaires)

2.3.2 Research questions

The study of published research results as well as the observations and experiences of the CLIL modules during the project's initial phase led to the formulation of the following research questions:

  1. How do teachers, parents, and primary school children experience the implementation of CLIL modules at the primary level?
  2. What advantages do they perceive?
  3. What disadvantages do they perceive?
  4. How did perceptions and expectations change over the course of the two-year process?

2.3.3 Elicitation tools and data analysis

Introspective methods, including questionnaires as well as individual and group interviews were used to assess the participants’ perspectives. Research instruments were devised based on the researchers’ own lesson observations as carried out before and during the first project year. Thus, key topics emerged regarding which the research team sought to elicit stakeholder groups’ perspectives. Key topics included: language acquisition; the balance between language and content learning; the spectrum of learners; teacher L2 proficiency; professional development; workload; problems regarding the availability of learning materials; parents’ concern regarding learning outcomes; and the socio-political context of bilingual programmes, e.g. lack of support, lack of appropriate teacher training initiatives (Stotz and Meuter, 2001; Walker and Tedick, 2000). All interviews as well as questionnaires were conducted in German. The first versions of the questionnaires and interview schedules were tested with teachers and primary school children who were not part of the sample. The questionnaires and schedules were honed based on the test results. Questionnaires were administered and interviews were conducted at the outset of CLIL instruction in the autumn of 2007, again in midstream during the course implementation, and at the end of the courses in the summer of 2009. Interviews were transcribed and questionnaires analysed by the research team. The data were compiled in a database and coded. A structured qualitative analysis of data was undertaken (cf. Rustemeyer, 1992). Categories were first derived inductively from the data, and subsequently compared with categories used in the studies on CLIL and immersion mentioned above.

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3. Results and discussion

The following section discusses the main categories ‘general assessment of CLIL’ and ‘learning outcomes of CLIL’ before proceeding to ‘CLIL teacher competences and professional development’, which will be discussed separately and primarily from the perspective of the teachers.

3.1 General assessment of CLIL teaching

Although all teachers, including those four teachers who left after the first year of CLIL implementation, generally considered CLIL a positive teaching method, they also noted a number of problematic issues that will be referred to in detail. The majority of the teachers thought that CLIL students experienced the CLIL language differently from regular foreign language teaching. The teachers supposed that the students were not only likely to engage with it more intensively but probably also better understood its relevance in their teaching. For example, one teacher stated:

“….I have come to realise that the children are more willing to engage with the foreign language. I think this is due to the fact that they experience the foreign language in very different situations. […] and [thus] interact with it more easily. […] I think they see that English does not only mean singing and playing games, and sorting pictures at the blackboard, but that it is something that one can use, for example, to understand a sports game or as a tool generally” (t 6, interview 2009)

What all teachers further appreciated was that CLIL distinguishes itself from regular foreign language teaching at the primary level:

“… Our current habit in early foreign language learning is to keep the children busy a little longer, learn eight nice new words, and then paint a little and learn the numbers till ten. It matches primary school teaching methodology. But in CLIL units, I feel that the learners’ intellect is engaged too and that the children react very positively to that.” (t 1, interview 2008)

This also had the beneficial effect of raising student attentiveness, argued another teacher (t 9, interview 2009). What is more, dealing with content-based topics also made foreign language learning more accessible for some learners, a point illustrated in the following student response:

“Well, because it is fun. I don’t really like English, but when we work on topics, then I like it better.“ (child 12, Grade 4, interview 2008)

Table 3 below shows that 86% of students in 2008 overwhelmingly liked CLIL and 79% of all students in 2009 assessed the CLIL modules in a positive or even very positive way:

Table 3: Students’ assessment of CLIL modules (student questionnaire, 2008/9)

“How do you like doing a subject matter topic like “fire” in the English language?”
  very good good fair poor
2008 25 = 50 % 18 = 36 % 5 = 10 % 2 = 4 %
2009 51 = 37 % 57 = 42 % 25 = 18 % 4 = 3 %

Also, the majority of the students supported the idea to teach topics in other subjects in English too, just a tenth of them disagreed completely (cf. Table 4):

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Table 4: Students’ assessment of additional CLIL modules in other subjects (student questionnaire, 2008/9)

“Would you also like doing topics in other subjects in the English language?”
  yes, very often sometimes seldom no, never
2008 10 = 20 % 27 = 56 % 7 = 14 % 5 = 10 %
2009 58 = 36 % 76 = 47 % 13 = 8 % 16 = 10 %

Besides, in every one of the six student interviews at least one student mentioned the additional learning benefit created by the dual focus of CLIL and usually most of the other students showed their consent:

I: ”Ok, and if you had learned 'Stars and Planets' in German? Would you have learnt more?”

S: ”I don’t think so. Now, we have learnt something about 'Stars and Planets' in addition to English. In fact, both.” (child 8, Grade 4, interview 2008)

It is also noteworthy that some of the children saw the relevance of dealing with content topics in a (second/additional/CLIL) language could have for their own life in the real world:

“If you are on a walk in a wood in Great Britain, and you find a friend, you can talk about the wood with her.” (child 3, Grade 4, interview 2008)

The analysis of the parents’ questionnaires (2008 and 2009) brought to light that the majority of parents reported being convinced of the value of studying a content subject module through an additional language. Only 5% didn’t see any advantage in CLIL. Yet, 74% of parents in 2008 and 72% in 2009 approved of the use of CLIL to teach some modules, whilst 12% of parents in 2008 and 14% in 2009 reported favouring the use of CLIL to teach one or two subjects in their entirety. Likewise, ProCLIL head teachers supported the project and agreed to cooperate because of its modular approach. These figures might indicate that implementing CLIL based on modules at the beginning fits stakeholders’ needs. Whereas in 2008 parents almost exclusively associated the advantage of CLIL with improved second language acquisition (78% in 2008 and 36% in 2009), in 2009 parents reported additional benefits of participating in CLIL (ca. 17% in 2008 and 45% in 2009). In 2009, they argued that CLIL contributed to increased learner motivation, enriched engagement with other cultures, and improved readiness for higher education and professional life.

We trace this back to several points. First, we suppose that after its first year of implementation knowledge about what CLIL is and its potential had become widespread in the schools. Also, we presume that those parents whose children had already taken part in CLIL in the first year had gained a broader understanding of CLIL and its possibilities by observing their children’s learning as reported by them and documented in their exercise books and thus replied to the questions in a more differentiated way. In 2009 the number of parents who would have sent their children to a primary school offering a bilingual profile where one or two subjects would be taught in their entirety had increased by 10% compared to 2008 (under 70% vs. 80%). We presume that this was also due to a better understanding of CLIL which may have reduced potential anxieties related to this approach. Still, this predominantly positive assessment needs further differentiation. The following sections will therefore discuss stakeholders’ perspectives on foreign language and content learning outcomes.

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3.2 Learning outcomes: Foreign language learning and content learning

Since the research team’s interest lay predominantly in analysing CLIL implementation processes, no language or content learning tests were carried out. Thus, insights into the learning outcomes of the CLIL modules are based on teachers’ and learners’ subjective assessments. Further research is required to triangulate data from this study on stakeholder perspectives with data from student achievement tests before anything more than tentative conclusions can be drawn about the success of the CLIL modules.

3.2.1 Foreign language learning

All ProCLIL teachers and the majority of students felt that CLIL modules had a positive effect on students’ foreign language competence. Participating teachers argued that more of their students not only spoke more and at an earlier age, but that utterances exceeding one word also occurred earlier than in regular foreign language learning. Teachers also suggested that learners’ listening comprehension, fluency and their lexical knowledge competence improved (teacher interviews 2008 and 2009). The analysis of student questionnaires confirmed their teachers’ positive assessment. When asked about how the CLIL modules affected their learning, 86% (2008) and 90% (2009) of the students said that their English had improved while the numbers of students who reported no improvement dropped from 10% (2008) to 8% (2009).

To our knowledge, no German study has examined the effect of CLIL modules on primary school students’ foreign language competence. Primary school students participating in immersion programmes where at least 50% of all content subject lessons are taught in the foreign language show significant increases in their foreign language competence and generally learn more than in regular foreign language instruction (Piske, 2006). The question of whether students’ English improved enough through the CLIL modules to allow for content learning will be discussed below.

3.2.2 Content learning

At the beginning of the project, about a third of the teachers as well as 21% (2008) and 19% (2009) of the parents feared that content learning would be impeded by using a foreign language as the medium of instruction. However, students’ statements in the interviews (2008) and in both questionnaires did not convey a uniform picture. When asked about their degree of understanding of content during the CLIL modules, approximately 80% of the students (2008/2009) indicated that they had understood everything or nearly everything, approximately 18% (2008) and 16% (2009) reported not understanding much, and approximately 4% (2008) and 5% (2009) as understanding almost nothing (cf. Table 5).

Table 5: Students’ assessment of their understanding (student questionnaire, 2008/9)

“When my teacher talks about ‘fire’ I understand:”
  everything most not much almost nothing
2008 10 = 20 % 28 = 58 % 9 = 18 % 2 = 4 %
2009 10 = 8 % 91 = 71 % 21 = 16 % 6 = 5 %

Primary school children also rated their learning in the English CLIL modules positively (cf. Table 6).

Table 6: Students’ assessment of their learning in CLIL modules (student questionnaire, 2009)

“How well did you learn the subject content topics that you studied in English?” (the questionnaires in 2008 did not contain this item)
  very well well not so well not at all
2009 40 = 32 % 72 = 57 % 14 = 11 % 0 = 0 %
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It is noteworthy that student interviews also substantiate the claim that learning content subjects in a foreign language was quite demanding for some students. Statements such as the following occurred in three of the six interviews:

I: “What did you find difficult in the CLIL lessons?”
S1: “English, because one doesn’t understand anything.
S2: “A little bit, I only understand a little bit.”
(children 22 and 23, Grade 3, interview 2008)

Although 72% of the learners surveyed would not support having German as the sole language of instruction, 26% expressed preference for studying content through German (questionnaire 2009). Moreover, it is important to remember that 14% of the students in 2008 and 21% in 2009 did not really or not at all like doing a subject matter topic in the English language (cf. Table 3).

ProCLIL teachers also viewed the achievement of content learning outcomes after the first and the second year of CLIL quite critically. Although most teachers estimated that subject-specific terms were learned in both languages equally well (e.g. t 2, t 3, t 7, interviews 2009) and saw no disadvantages for high achievers, some noted that children need more time to learn the same amount of content in English than in German (e.g. t 3, t 8). Furthermore, most teachers indicated that low achievers were put at a disadvantage in CLIL. One teacher gave up CLIL after the first year because she considered her class too weak for this approach. However, not all teachers were of the opinion that CLIL generally overburdened low achievers. One teacher explained that:

“Well, I think that CLIL should actually benefit the weaker learners as there is a lot of visualisation and step-by-step instruction. My weak ones take part in my lessons, they join in.” (t 7, interview 2009).

In order to save time or to reduce the disadvantage to cognitively weaker students, about half of the teachers changed from using the foreign language to using German when dealing with demanding content topics (e.g. t 3, t 7, t 8 interviews 2009). Others considered it necessary to simplify topics (e.g. t 3, interview 2008). Another possible solution mentioned was to reduce a topic to its essential parts.

At the end of the CLIL implementation phase almost all teachers argued that CLIL instruction should continue beyond the modules so that the language practice (for student and teacher) is maintained:

“Through the project I understood how important continuity is if one wants to teach effectively. That means I have had my tries and have taught here and there a little bit, but this was not really satisfying, neither for me nor for the children. They don’t experience this consciously but they didn’t really progress much, and I think continuity is crucial for this.” (t 6, interview 2009)

Neither changing the school language nor simplifying content topics can be considered appropriate solutions as the former would further reduce the language input students receive while the latter would place students at a disadvantage in meeting curriculum outcomes. Therefore, the appropriate question seems to be what kind of intensity and continuity would children in CLIL need. This is supported by immersion studies where it is shown that learning outcomes improve as more lessons are taught in the L2 (e.g. Bournot-Trites and Reeder, 2001).

Teachers’ previous teaching experience can also be a key factor in this context. In fact, the rather negative assessments of students’ content learning outcomes by a number of ProCLIL teachers may well be due to the fact that at the project’s start, only two out of twelve ProCLIL teachers had any previous CLIL experience or training. The lack of experience or training suggests teachers may not have been aware of or used a pedagogical approach or methods that were appropriate for teaching content subjects through a foreign language.

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3.3 CLIL teacher competences and professional development

All 12 participating teachers were either trained in one or in both CLIL subjects. With the exception of two teachers – one of whom had studied CLIL during her university training and the other who had taken part in a CLIL EU teacher training course – none of the other teachers had had CLIL training or CLIL teaching experience before joining the project. Therefore, the ProCLIL project team carried out two teacher training seminars, each two days long, in the first project year before the teachers actually started teaching CLIL modules. Thus, the ten teachers without previous CLIL training mostly acquired their CLIL teaching skills by delivering their own CLIL lessons. However, the project’s teacher training phases and learning-by-doing did not seem to be sufficient as the ten teachers attributed their didactical and methodological insecurity to this lack of training, whereas the two teachers who had undergone previous CLIL training felt less insecure in teaching through CLIL. Two content teachers reported abandoning CLIL after the first year due to a lack of L2 language skills. Others repeatedly mentioned their lack of language knowledge or subject matter competences as issues of concern and blamed part of their heavy workload on these two points.

In order to compensate for additional time spent on preparing CLIL lessons and materials, all participating schools granted each ProCLIL teacher a one-hour reduction in their teaching load. Additionally, the project team supplied teachers with published and team-created learning materials. Nonetheless, ProCLIL teachers unanimously reported having to spend considerable time in preparing CLIL learning materials.

Half of the ProCLIL teachers worked alone at their schools and encountered more difficulties than those working in teams. First of all, they had to cope with all the described challenges and difficulties on their own. Secondly, one teacher felt that cooperating with other instructors teaching the same Grade level – a practice very common among primary school teachers that considerably reduces work load - was no longer possible. (t 6, interview 2009). This statement was unanimously confirmed by other teachers at a final project meeting (July, 2009). For varying reasons, but most often due to the heavy workload, none of the ProCLIL teachers succeeded in convincing other colleagues to join the ProCLIL initiative or at least to try CLIL lessons themselves.

Two head teachers directed three teachers at each school to implement CLIL, partly ignoring the individual teachers’ existing interests in various projects or their language abilities. As a consequence, two of these six teachers left the project after the first year reporting that their English was not sufficient. Four of these other teachers officially taught CLIL for the duration of the project. At the end, however, it became obvious that three of them had only formally acquiesced to the project demands and did not intend on integrating CLIL into the school curriculum; this suggests that there is a risk of head teachers dictating programme implementation without the agreement of the teachers involved. This indicates that teachers need to see the process of implementing a new school programme such as CLIL as their own. They need to feel that they are in charge of it - a process Schratz (1998) describes as ownership.

Personal attitudes, willingness to improve one’s own foreign language and methodological competences, additional workload, preparation time, pre-service and in-service training and financial resources for the purchase of learning materials were all factors influencing ProCLIL teacher perceptions regarding CLIL. In particular these factors contributed to teachers seeing CLIL as an opportunity for personal and professional development but also as a burden. This reflects findings from previous CLIL and immersion studies (Met and Lorenz, 1997; LePape, 2000). It also shows that ProCLIL teachers were prepared to become active and implement an innovative programme in their school. Yet, the CLIL modules were not sustainable at the schools where they were taught during the complete term of the project for a number of reasons. The reasons reported by half of the teachers in the project who abandoned CLIL included either, having to work alone on CLIL or finding that CLIL increased their workload, and that CLIL had not been incorporated into the school curriculum on a permanent basis.

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4. Conclusion

This longitudinal study focussed on ProCLIL stakeholder groups. Due to the problems described above, only half of the students and parents took part whereas the other half was involved in a cross-sectional study. In order to increase the number of participants in future studies, the following solutions may need to be considered. One option would be to cooperate exclusively with teachers who teach the same group of students during the entire research period. The other would be to extend the research phase so as to enable teachers who have new or different classes to join the project. Yet, both options have their drawbacks. The former would very likely reduce the number of participating teachers, students and classes whereas the latter would require more time and higher financial means.

The study sought to find out how teachers, parents, and children experience the implementation of CLIL modules at the primary level. Data collected in the context of the ProCLIL project suggest that teachers, parents, and children perceive both advantages and disadvantages with regard to the implementation of CLIL modules. Stakeholder groups reported finding the CLIL modules enriching and also increased their understanding of CLIL. Modules helped to acquaint teachers and students with the CLIL concept as well as to offer them an opportunity to experiment with using the CLIL approach, methods and learning materials. Therefore, it seems justifiable to conclude that beginning the implementation of CLIL via modules may reduce potential reservations parents, teachers, and learners might initially have, and encourage them to get involved in CLIL. In addition to seeing the benefits of modular CLIL, stakeholder groups also pointed out disadvantages associated with CLIL. 

The ProCLIL study suggests that some teachers require further language training and that those without the language skills and/or requisite content area qualifications may feel ill at ease in teaching the given content subject. This underlines that teacher training is crucial not only for the quality of CLIL pedagogy employed by the teachers, but also for helping teachers to achieve the level of language and content competence they require to teach in CLIL programmes. Therefore, head teachers need to carefully select teaching personnel to ensure they have the needed language and content subject qualifications. Also, they could ask school central administration offices to allocate qualified teachers to schools. Furthermore, prior to teaching a CLIL module, it is important that teachers receive additional training as well as time for collecting relevant materials and for preparing CLIL lessons so as to ensure lesson quality and to prevent the feeling of being overburdened. The perceptions of stakeholder groups changed over the course of the two-year process. This was most noticeably the case with regard to two aspects: teacher cooperation and intensity and continuity of CLIL modules.

Given the fact, that CLIL modules were more likely to be cancelled in schools with only one CLIL teacher, it may be desirable to establish CLIL teams and networks to support teachers. Head teachers need to raise awareness of the staff that cooperation is not only essential, but also pays off and can be fun (Helmke, 2003: 21). If teachers are willing to cooperate, then head teachers should consider supporting such willingness by means such as granting additional time or flexible schedules.

Some teachers argued that due to the limited foreign language input that the modules provided most of the learners who had received between one and two years of modular CLIL either failed to achieve the necessary level of foreign language competence to deal proficiently with subject content without any simplification of content or without relying on German or achieved goals slowly. What is more, teachers directly linked problems students faced in achieving content learning outcomes with their limited proficiency in the CLIL language. However, their subjective impressions were not examined and validated with the help of standardised longitudinal student achievement tests. Further research could help to explain whether language proficiency will improve after long-term exposure to CLIL sufficiently for both high-achieving and low-achieving students to be able to reach learning outcomes. Additional research is also required to determine the impact on learner motivation and cognitive development of using the L1 in CLIL class to teach cognitively challenging concepts. It would also be interesting to know if this undermines L2 learning.

The most important change in teachers’ perception after the two-year implementation phase can be considered the fact that the teachers started criticising CLIL modules for their lack of intensity and continuity in foreign language instruction. In addition, CLIL modules appear to have contributed to an increase in the number of parents who would send their child to a primary school offering a bilingual profile. Therefore, there is evidence to suggest the project’s political mission to pave the way for full-blown CLIL programmes may on a limited scale have been achieved. Full immersion programmes hold the potential of helping students to achieve L2 proficiency at no cost to content learning or achievement. Finally, primary level immersion or CLIL programmes would likely create a demand for secondary programming. This suggests that a wide range of stakeholders need to work together to establish integrated bilingual education programmes at all levels of the education system.

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