Faster and non-stop morphosyntactic development of CLIL vs non-CLIL (Basque-Spanish) bilinguals learning English in high-school: Is CLIL the explanation?

European Second Language Association (EUROSLA)
Reggio Emilia (Italy)

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) methodologies have been claimed to raise learners’ overall proficiency in the target language (Coyle, 2007). However, most studies have mainly reported on global evaluations of language competence and it is now necessary to carry out fine-grained studies that precisely address the numerous aspects which make up these general gains in proficiency (Dalton-Puffer, 2008; Van der Craen et al., 2007). Within this context, this paper compares the morphosyntactic development of two groups of (Basque-Spanish) bilinguals learning English in high-school along a two-year period, one group received CLIL instruction (CLIL group, 15 students) while the other group only received regular English classes (non-CLIL group, 11 students). All students had to narrate the well-known story “Frog where are you?” (Mayer, 1969) at two testing times: when they were 13 years old and when they were 15 years old. Their oral production was transcribed and codified in CHILDES (MacWhinney, 1991) format and a detailed analysis of their morphosyntactic development was carried out.The overall qualitative and quantitative results indicate a clear advantage for the CLIL group at both testing times. This group seems to be at a further stage than the non-CLIL group, in fact, it displays morphological features which have been reported in older students in non-CLIL contexts (Lázaro, 2002; García Mayo, Lázaro & Liceras, 2005). On the other hand, the CLIL group improves significantly more during the two year interval while the EFL group seems to be entering a stage of morphological fossilization. In light of these results we will discuss the specific role that the CLIL methodology might have played, we will compare our results to those from previous works and, finally, we will point at some lines for future research.