Monica Feixas

  • Improving student communicative competences through teaching in English

    Monica Feixas, Dolors Masats, Digna Couso, Mariona Espinet, Eva Codó, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

    Session 3d, Tuesday 10.10

    Research paper

    Themes addressed:

    • Skills development and lifelong learning
    • Supporting learners
    • Faculty developer methods and/or strategies

    The term “content and language integrated learning” (CLIL) refers to “any dual-focused educational context in which an additional language, thus not usually the first language of the learners involved, is used as a medium in the teaching and learning of non-language content”. (Marsh, 2002) Advantages of such approach are numerous; amongst which we could highlight that content selection is based on the cognitive, linguistic and communicative students’ skills (Caballero and Masats, 1999) and that language learning is embedded in a real context (Muñoz, 1997).

    The present paper aims at contributing to the discussion on how the language and the content dimensions interweave in a CLIL classroom to help students internalise linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge. Our research study analyses the outcomes (written and oral texts) produced by two groups of teacher trainees taking a course on school organisation – one group taking the course in Catalan, and the other one in English. Bearing in mind that one of the aims of CLIL is to provide students with “opportunities to study content through different perspectives” (Marsh 2002) and that the lessons in the course taught through English combined the elements of what Coyle (1999) refers to as the 4Cs curriculum – content, communication, cognition and culture – we wanted to explore whether students taking the course in English would develop a deeper understanding of the course contents as a result of accessing the subject matter from different angles or whether the students taking the course in Catalan would understand in greater depth the contents of the subject matter because they accessed them through their mother tongue. Our analysis focuses on the use of subject-specific language terminology in the students’ productions – scientific written texts and oral descriptions – as well as the precision of the concepts they tackle. Parallel to this, we would also consider students’ language communicative skills.


    • Caballero B, i Masats D (1999) “Les llengües estrangeres com a vehicle d’aprenentatges escolars”. Perspectiva Escolar, 232: 19-25.
    • Coyle D (1999) “The next stage? Is there a Future for the Present? The legacy of the ‘communicative approach’.” Francophonie, 19:13-16.
    • Marsch D (2002) CLIL/EMILE The European dimension: Actions, trends and foresight potential. Jyväskylä: UniCOM.
    • Muñoz C (1997) “Age, Exposure and Foreign Language Learning” in L Bosch, C Muñoz and C Pérez Second Language Acquisition: Early Childhood Perspectives. APAC Monographs, 2: 16-22.