Balancing content and language in CLIL
The experiences of teachers and learners
This research study examined the experiences of teachers and learners as they engaged with a CLIL programme, a physical education course being taught through the medium of the Irish language (L2) in English-medium primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. Five primary fourth grade teachers and the students (9–10 years old) in their classes from three primary schools in the Republic of Ireland participated in a unit of physical education (4–8 lessons) through the medium of the Irish language. Qualitative data collection and analysis included direct observation of lessons, an interview with each teacher, teachers’ written reflections and a focus group with 3–5 students from each class. Teachers reported that students became highly motivated as they were given the opportunities to use the Irish language in situations of personal choice. This new autonomy and motivation in turn fostered confidence and competence in language use. Several complex and persistent pedagogical challenges (e.g. balancing content and language in instruction) were uncovered in the analysis of data. This study increases our understanding of the complexity of the processes underlying and shaping a coherent CLIL pedagogy. Findings shed light on the yet-to-be-realised potential of CLIL as a lived embodied reality for all.
Keywords: second language education, Irish language, physical education, language input, teacher identity, integration, CLIL pedagogy
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