“Who would have thought that I’d ever know that!”: Subject-specific vocabulary in CLIL student interactions

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This paper focuses on Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), an educational approach where a foreign language is used to teach non-language subjects. More specifically, this contribution presents new insights into an under-researched area, namely the potential of CLIL in fostering the learning and use of subject-specific target language vocabulary (SSV). This is investigated in a case study analysing spontaneous oral classroom productions of two groups of advanced, secondary-school students in an Austrian CLIL programme within the subject European economics and politics. Based on a holistic definition of SSV comprising both single and multi-word lexical units, complementary quantitative lexical and qualitative discourse-embedded research methods are employed to present a comprehensive picture of the engagement of learners with subject-specific vocabulary. Findings of the lexical analysis show a substantial and active use of SSV with some homogeneity but also considerable variation between students. Discursive investigations of the affordances for learning arising in interactions indicate that in constructing and negotiating SSV, the students make use of a range of learning and communication strategies, which indicates their heightened level of SSV learning awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3184-3198
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number9
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2022

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 602008 English studies


  • CLIL
  • EFL
  • L2 lexicon
  • classroom discourse
  • subject-specific language
  • upper-secondary school

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