A baseline study of the vocabulary knowledge of CLIL and non-CLIL students in Swedish middle school

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Initial results from the pre-test of a largescale longitudinal study of English and Swedish vocabulary knowledge among students in Swedish middle school are reported. The results are compared between CLIL and non-CLIL students, and between different CLIL groups as the way CLIL is implemented varies considerably between schools.

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In Swedish middle school, English is generally studied in foreign language classes for two hours a week. In CLIL classes, English may be encountered and used for up to 50% of the school day as the language of instruction in different school subjects. However, the effect of such CLIL instruction on language and subject knowledge has not yet been explored among young learners in the Swedish context. The present study is conducted within the framework of a recently initiated large-scale research project over three years, funded through The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The project aims at exploring the effects of CLIL education targeting English on 10-12-year-old learners’ proficiency in Swedish, English and Mathematics. In the presentation, initial results from vocabulary levels tests in English (Webb, Sasao & Ballance, 2017) and in Swedish (Lindberg & Johansson, 2019) are reported, as are results from a background survey including information about the students’ language background and language use outside school. The baseline results are compared between CLIL (N=250) and non-CLIL (N=150) students, and also between CLIL groups at different schools, as the way CLIL is implemented may vary from context to context, e.g. with regard to the scale of CLIL (see, e.g., Coyle, Hood & Marsh, 2010). School visits including classroom observations and a teacher survey provide information about the implementation of CLIL. At a later stage of the project, the students’ development in English and Swedish will be compared to their development in mathematics for the purpose of studying how the progression of the three interact. Hence, a close analysis of initial data is imperative, e.g. with regard to selection effects. It is also important to specify the type of CLIL that the CLIL schools represent for the analysis to be valid.

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University of Gothenburg
University of Innsbruck

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