Oral production outcomes in CLIL: an attempt to manage amount of exposure

European Journal of Applied Linguistics

This study aims at testing the benefits of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) on oral skills in English by comparing a group of secondary school CLIL learners to two Non-CLIL groups matched for amount of instruction –a two-year-ahead group and a peer group. This sampling design is an attempt to tease the effects of exposure, age and CLIL variables apart, something which has not been addressed in most previous CLIL research. The analyses (holistic evaluation, amount and density of production, and use of compensatory strategies) of participants’ story tellings indicate that CLIL learners’ oral abilities are superior to those of Non-CLIL groups, especially to those of their exposure-matched peer counterparts. Overall, CLIL learners produce denser and richer oral narrations characterized by better content, vocabulary, grammar and fluency, and a marginal use of the first language. These results could be read as indicative of the beneficial effect of CLIL instruction itself on oral production when intervening variables such as amount of exposure and age are managed. In addition, particular attention is given to the lack of positive effect of CLIL on pronunciation.