A C1-level English for Science and Technology Course at a comprehensive university in China as a CLIL case

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This paper reports the practice of a C1-level English for Science and Technology CLIL course at a Chinese university. Drawing on the pluriliteracies model, it explores the practice and efficacy of a genre-based pedagogy backed up by solid linguistic theory that integrates all the 4Cs and its implications for CLIL.
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Unlike Europe, it is not a tradition for Chinese primary or middle schools to provide CLIL courses in an additional language. At the same time, the Ministry of Education encourages universities to give courses in English (English-Medium Instruction, or EMI) as a means of internationalization. While most of courses for language majors are given in the target language, this aspiration for EMI courses for non-English majors falls short of professors or students with adequate language proficiency. Against this background, CLIL courses are given either to serve as a bridge to EMI or as one with a strong content orientation or both in Chinese universities. The English course for non-English majors on frontiers of science and technology at issue could be both depending on the students attending it.

Drawing on the pluriliteracies model (Meyer et al 2015) built on the 4Cs framework, this course integrates all the four components with a genre-based pedagogy that is backed up by solid linguistic theories. It focuses on genres for ‘organizing science’ (descriptive and taxonomic report), ‘explaining science’ (sequential, causal, theoretical, factorial, consequential explanation and exploration) and ‘arguing/challenging science’ (exposition and discussion), with articles for knowledgeable readers that are neither too commonsensical nor too specialized as material basis for Content, are targeted at higher order thinking skills for Cognition, set in the Culture of the international scientific research and technological development, formulated in appropriate language for Communication, including terminology, language for production and interaction and language for the students’ internalization of knowledge.

This paper describes the particular practice in the course and reports the efficacy of the genre-based pedagogy by the students’ products, self-reports and instructor comments. Finally the implications of the CLIL course for the students’ language and content area development and its role in the university curriculum system will be discussed.
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Associate Professor
Peking University

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