Science classroom discourse and learning in secondary biology classrooms implementing a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach
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This multiple case study research analyses upper secondary teachers’ and students’ experiences of learning biology through the medium of a foreign language, which in this study is English, in the European context (German and Italy). This instructional approach has been named Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). So far, the focus of research into CLIL has been mainly on language. When looking at content (science, in this study) research into CLIL has tended to adopt a language learning orientation in design, analytical tools and theoretical orientation. Furthermore, findings on content learning are overall inconclusive. Specifically, when examining science learning, research results are extremely scarce and often published in languages other than English. Leading on from this, the aim of this study is to contribute to the science teaching practice by filling the evidenced gap with a deeper understanding of science learning when a CLIL approach is implemented. Three case studies (two in Germany and one in Italy), where investigated through a sociocultural perspective of learning, by using mixed methods. The qualitative element, which is dominant in this study, explored discourse practices and teachers’ beliefs by analysing audio-recordings and observational data. The quantitative aspect incorporated a student questionnaire to examine students’ perceptions about learning science through a CLIL approach. Central to this study is the analysis and discussion of how opportunities for learning science are promoted by classroom discourse. Findings demonstrate that students’ cognitive engagement is inseparable from linguistic production. Teaching strategies that promote the building of science include contingent questioning, a hybrid discourse, translanguaging practices, metadiscourse and linguistic redundancy. Teachers’ beliefs about language appear to effect learning environments and classroom practices. The major contribution of this study is its insight into how to develop language resources and implement teaching support measures and discourse practices that will enhance science learning.
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