Teaching Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Classroom practices and student perspectives in three Norwegian classrooms
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This thesis investigates Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) teaching practices with English L2 as the medium of instruction in three Norwegian secondary schools. The primary data are video observations of CLIL teaching and student questionnaires. The thesis is article-based, comprising three articles and an extended abstract. The extended abstract provides the following: the background and development of CLIL as a teaching methodology; a review of research on CLIL teaching; the methods and research design used in this thesis; a summary; and discussion of the results. This thesis is positioned within a sociocultural view of learning, emphasizing the importance of teacher-student interactions to understand CLIL teaching in practice. Article I investigated how lower secondary CLIL teachers taught their subject in terms of content and language. By filming four hours of CLIL teaching in science and mathematics and comparing it to the students’ English lessons, this study sought to characterize the observed CLIL teaching. The coding manual Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observation (PLATO) was used to analyze the data. The findings indicated that CLIL teaching was content-driven, intellectually challenging and had clear instructional explanations and consistent language support. However, students were provided few opportunities to read and write. Article II focused on how CLIL teachers in upper secondary school scaffolded learning during their lessons. Three CLIL teachers in science, geography, and social science were filmed for four hours each (N=12). PLATO was used to identify instances of scaffolding strategies. The findings suggested that the CLIL teachers used a wide range of scaffolding strategies to help their students comprehend material but few metacognitive scaffolding strategies to help students solve tasks. There were differences between scaffolding in the natural and social sciences. The natural sciences provided relatively more visual support;the social sciences provided relatively more discussion time and allowed for longer student replies. This implies that subjects may provide different types of support for second language learners. Article III examined how upper secondary students perceived their CLIL teaching. Fifty students from two CLIL programs were distributed two questionnaires: one that asked students why they chose CLIL and how they perceived it, and another that asked the students to assess their science teaching. The findings revealed that the upper secondary students mainly chose CLIL because they perceived English as important to succeeding in future studies and work. They perceived their CLIL teaching as mostly positive, citing that they improved their English, enjoyed the multicultural classroom environment, and felt motivated. However, some students found the absence of L1 (Norwegian) problematic, felt excluded from the school environment, and struggled cognitively with learning their subject through the L2. Students perceived that their CLIL science teachers clarified material, often conferred with and intellectually challenged them, but that the students had little decision-making regarding input in activities. Overall, the three articles contribute to a deeper insight into how CLIL is taught in secondary schools in Norway. The findings show that the observed CLIL teaching was largely effective; the teachers manage to convey their subject through the L2 (English); students feel intellectually challenged; there is evidence of scaffolding; and CLIL is perceived as a positive experience by most students. The comparison across subjects also suggests that the natural sciences subjects provide a multitude of visual aids and language support for second language learners. However, the studies also point to areas of challenge for further development of CLIL in Norway. The lack of reading and writing in CLIL subjects emphasizes that the English language subject may provide an important resource to develop these language skills further. There are also a number of problems identified by CLIL students that need to be addressed, such as how to balance L1 in CLIL classrooms, to ensure that Norwegian students are equipped for future studies in Norwegian as well as English. Finally, CLIL programs are in danger of being isolated from the rest of the school, and this is a challenge that needs to be examined by stakeholders to ensure that all students feel included in the school.