To what extent does content and language integrated learning (CLIL) as a language-based project approach promote pupil motivation in the teaching of MFL in three secondary schools in England?

Bower, Kim Susan

December 2013

Thesis or dissertation

© 2013 Kim Susan Bower. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This research was undertaken at a critical time for language learning in England. From the government’s decision in 2004 to make languages optional in KS4, numbers studying modern foreign languages both in this key stage and within key stage 3 reduced at an alarming rate. The creation of an EBacc in 2011 in which languages is one of five subjects studied, caused a recent, small upturn in GCSE entries as the first cohort took the GCSE examination (Tinsley and Board 2013). However, the underlying reasons for the decline, including: the lack of a coherent national language policy based on a sound philosophical approach (Evans 2007; Macaro 2008); curricula with predominantly boring content, perceived by learners to be irrelevant, (Bell 2004; Coyle 2000) and a subject perceived as difficult and unimportant by many pupils (Dearing and King 2007) remain unaddressed. The introduction of primary languages, delayed by the arrival of the Coalition Government in 2009, will become compulsory for all pupils from the age of seven in September 2014; funding to support this introduction is no longer in place. To date in 2013 there has been no clear strategy of transition between key stages 2 and 3.

One of the means of addressing the demotivation in KS4 and increasing take up, identified in the Languages Review (Dearing and King 2007), was that of immersion teaching and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), which were underway in a small minority of schools in England, although more widespread in Europe. A national statement and guidelines about CLIL were published in 2009 (Coyle et al. 2009b). Although CLIL should not be regarded as the answer to pupil motivation in the modern language classroom (Coyle 2011), evidence from schools where it is working would seem to suggest that pupils are making progress, are motivated and achieving success in summative assessment, and teachers are enthused.

Research about CLIL in England is relatively sparse, but gathering momentum. In the most recent large-scale research project, Coyle (2011:5) calls for

A thorough investigation of different CLIL models which focuses on acquiring new knowledge and skills through another language.

This research forms part of the response to this need; my motivation for embarking on the study will now be explored.

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Convery, Anne; Bottery, Mike
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