Classroom interaction in CLIL programs: offering opportunities or fostering inequalities?

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This study investigates potential inequalities in CLIL programs where students are streamed into two strands based on their L2 proficiency. We compare the distribution of classroom registers, appraisal resources and pedagogical purposes when the same teachers teach the same content in both strands.
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This study investigates potential inequalities in CLIL programs in the Comunidad de Madrid (Spain), where secondary school students (grades 7-12) are streamed into two strands with different “degrees” of exposure to the L2/English on the basis of their general L2 proficiency: a high-exposure (HE) strand and a low-exposure (LE) strand. Although this system ensures that all students in a bilingual secondary school receive some kind of bilingual education, recent voices have addressed the risk of this system fostering inequality. Drawing on the notions of classroom registers (Christie, 2005), appraisal theory (Martin & White, 2005) and sociocultural perspectives on classroom interaction in L1 and L2 contexts (Gibbons, 2006; Lemke, 1989; Mortimer & Scott, 2003), we developed a multilayered analytical model which follows a mixed-methods design using UAM Corpus Tool (O’Donnell, 2008). The model was applied to CLIL classroom data to analyze interactional practices by the same teachers teaching the same content (science and technology) in both groups (grade 7 HE and LE strands). More specifically, we focused on teachers’ and students’ use of evaluative language (realized through appraisal resources) across classroom registers and in relation to the pedagogical purpose(s) of the lesson. Results show no differences in the distribution of classroom registers and the teachers’ general pedagogical purposes across groups, but some striking differences in the use of specific pedagogical purposes and evaluative language (appraisal). Particularly notable is the more frequent use of appraisal (mainly engagement) and the pedagogical purpose of “exploring students’ views” in the HE groups, in comparison with the LE groups, with the effect of triggering higher-order thinking skills (particularly evaluation) in these students as well as a wider variety of language resources in the L2 to express these meanings.
Lecturer in TEFL
Universitat Internacional de Catalunya
Autonomous University of Madrid

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