The Development of a University CLIL Model Integrating Economic Disciplines and Academic English

The Development of a University CLIL Model Integrating Economic Disciplines and Academic English

Elena K. Vdovina
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3266-9.ch009
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The chapter analyses a university model designed to integrate the study of economic disciplines and English by demonstrating how content-driven CLIL evolved from a synthesis of teaching economic disciplines in English by native speaking lecturers and English for special purposes taught by language instructors. A longitudinal action research into the effects of content and language integration ensured the development of major didactic and methodological principles implemented in a sequence of four semester courses with a dual focus on content and language. The chapter comprehensively examines the benefits arising from the introductory character of university CLIL disciplines and the two-level approach to the acquisition of academic domain-specific language skill in a collaborative interaction of all the participants aimed at knowledge construction. The model is considered an efficient intermediate stage undertaken before shifting to any form of tertiary educational context where English is used as a medium of instruction.
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Interdisciplinary Integration In Higher Education

Since the 2000s, Russia’s tertiary education has been demonstrating a genuine interest in the interdisciplinary approach to teaching foreign languages. To a large extent, it was a response to the introduction of competency-built university curriculum. The challenge of providing undergraduates with an adequate professionally oriented foreign language competence raised an interest in the integration of teaching a foreign language and non-language disciplines (Krylov, 2016).

Indeed, in Russian higher education, integrated training in a foreign language and academic disciplines seems highly appropriate due to the fact that the majority of students who enroll in university non-linguistic programmes still have low foreign language proficiency level after learning English at school for years in a traditional language-focused way. With similar methodology at universities, initially ‘weaker’ students have poor chances to acquire professionally oriented foreign language competences within two or three years of language training.

Being a multifaceted and flexible phenomenon, CLIL has been demonstrating its adaptability to a variety of educational contexts. In Europe, CLIL is characterized by a great diversity in its implementation (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2009). CLIL experts unanimously recognize the fact that this innovative approach to learning a non-linguistic content through a target language can be implemented in different learning settings and in different ways based on the stakeholders’ motives as well as on the available resources (Kelly, 2014).

In addition to the methodological factors, a significant role is played by external factors such as institutional, administrative, and broader educational environment (Almazova et al., 2017). This is the case with the model presented in this chapter which was developed and successfully implemented in Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU). It has some unique features which can be attributed to its development history within a particular educational context.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Introductory Discipline: A university discipline which is taught in the first semesters of undergraduate studies often as a way to familiarize students with the main concepts of a discipline before undertaking the same standard university course.

Two-Level CLIL Model: A model in which the planned learning outcomes are achieved in two stages, the latter being based on the disciplinary and language outcomes achieved at the former stage.

Content and Language-Integrated Learning: An educational approach to a dual-focused learning of disciplinary knowledge through a target language.

Economics English: An option of English for special purposes aimed at economics students in vocational and tertiary education.

Principle of Minimal Sufficiency: According to the principle, the learners are encouraged to rely on general English they learned at school and to gradually increase their academic language by adding newly learned terminology and grammar structures necessary to formulate ideas related to disciplinary content of a particular text.

Concept Flowchart (CFC): A type of graphic organizer with some elements of a mind map learners design while analyzing a text for the purpose of knowledge construction.

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