CLIL theory and empirical reality – Two sides of the same coin?
A quantitative-longitudinal evaluation of general EFL proficiency and affective-motivational dispositions in CLIL students at German secondary schools
This article summarizes the essential theoretical and empirical findings of a large-scale doctoral dissertation study on content and language integrated learning (CLIL) streams at German secondary schools (Gymnasium) with up to three content subjects taught in English (Rumlich, 2016). A theoretical account rooted in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL), language acquisition and educational psychology provides the basis for the development of a comprehensive longitudinal model of general EFL proficiency, which incorporates cognitive, affective-motivational, and further individual variables.In a second step, the model is used to estimate the effects of CLIL on general EFL proficiency, EFL self-concept and interest over a span of two school years (Year 6 to Year 8). The statistical evaluation of the quasi-experimental data from 1,000 learners finds large initial differences prior to CLIL due to selection, preparation, and class composition effects brought about by the implementation of CLIL within streams. After two years, the analyses found no CLIL-related benefits for general EFL proficiency or interest in EFL classes and solely a minor increase in EFL self-concept that might be attributable to CLIL. The results make a strong claim for comprehensive longitudinal model-based evaluations and the inclusion of selection, preparation, and class composition effects when conducting research on CLIL programmes in similar settings. The findings also suggest that not all language competences and affective-motivational dispositions might benefit from CLIL (the way it is currently taught in Germany) to the same extent.
Keywords: EFL proficiency, bilingual education in Germany, Content and language integrated learning, large-scale quantitative research, language learning interests, academic/EFL self-concept
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