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Evaluating Bilingual Education in Germany

CLIL Students’ General English Proficiency, EFL Self-Concept and Interest

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Dominik Rumlich

The author uses a theoretical account rooted in TEFL, language acquisition and educational psychology to provide the basis for the development of a comprehensive model of language learning in CLIL. It incorporates prior knowledge, EFL self-concept, interest in EFL classes, verbal cognitive abilities and contact to English. This model is used to estimate the effects of CLIL in the context of high-intensity programmes at German Gymnasien. The statistical evaluation of the quasi-experimental data from 1,000 learners proves the existence of large initial differences due to selection, preparation and class composition effects. After two years, one finds no significant effects of CLIL apart from a minor increase in self-concept, suggesting that the actual effects of CLIL have often been overestimated.

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2. Conceptual and institutional background of CLIL (in Germany)

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2.   Conceptual and institutional background of CLIL (in Germany)

The social situation in each country in general and decisions in educational policy in particular always have an effect, so there is no single blueprint of content and language integration that could be applied in the same way in different countries – no model however successful is for export.

(Baetens Beardsmore, 1993, p. 39 as cited in Coyle, 1999a, p. 27)

Baetens Beardsmore’s statement appears simple: No matter how good a model of CLIL works in a specific educational context, “copying and pasting” it to a different context would not replicate its success (see also Coyle, 2009, p. vii). His position is based on profound insights into the nature of educational systems and indirectly points to the marked differences that exist between any two countries, for instance, with respect to their societies, economies, histories, cultures, languages, politics, and administrative systems (see also Marsh, 2002b, p. 56; Nikula, 1997; Vollmer, 2001b, p. 22). These lead to unique, highly context-bound educational systems which interact with the specific societal, economic, historical, cultural, linguistic, political, and administrative context that they were formed by, are embedded in and interlinked with. Not only does this make it impossible to export any model of (bilingual) education (see also Coyle, 2007, p. 564), implying that it would lead to the same educational outcomes as the original; it also means that research on educational aspects needs to be interpreted in the light of the setting...

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