Edited by Ana Llinares and Russell Cross
[AILA Review 35:2] 2022
► pp. 321–350
Bilingual education using a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach seems in many contexts to select or attract the more able and more academically-inclined pupils, or only be available to pupils in higher academic secondary streams. Positive effects of CLIL for target language proficiency development may therefore be due in part to this cognitive or academic selection effect. Can the target language skills of pupils with lower scholastic attainment – a group which, in several educational contexts, has less access to CLIL programs – also benefit from the CLIL approach?
This two-year longitudinal quasi-experimental research, part of a larger study, focused on the development of oral proficiency skills of three cohorts of 603 pre-vocational pupils in 25 classes in the Netherlands in both CLIL and non-CLIL programs. Despite the lack of explicit school-based selection procedures for pre-vocational pupils’ participation in CLIL, there were significant differences in favor of the CLIL groups in the initial levels of English oral proficiency, fluency, and Willingness to Communicate. Furthermore, the CLIL pupils showed significantly more growth than the non-CLIL control group in English oral proficiency, but not for fluency or Willingness to Communicate. This positive result for the CLIL group did not appear to be moderated by pupil background variables. Despite the small effect sizes found, these results indicate that the CLIL approach can have a positive effect on the foreign language proficiency of pupils in less academic educational streams.