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To what extent is a CLIL approach useful in teaching intercultural understanding in MFL?

Koro, R. (2017) To what extent is a CLIL approach useful in teaching intercultural understanding in MFL? EdD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This thesis investigates the importance learners and teachers of Modern Languages in England attach to the development of intercultural understanding, and the extent to which this is incorporated in everyday practice in the context of secondary education. In particular, the research explores whether a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach is an effective means to develop learners’ intercultural understanding. This is important because the curriculum for languages in England gives little importance to the development of intercultural competence through integrative models, at odds with many other countries. The research followed an action research approach within a pragmatic paradigm, through a mixed-method approach, using qualitative and quantitative instruments including questionnaires, interviews, lesson observations logs as well as an intervention programme of 15 lessons. 94 students of French in Year 8, across four different schools, and 19 teachers, participated, including myself. Two of the four classes were involved in the intervention programme. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis was undertaken to identify emerging themes and issues. The main conclusions of the thesis are that time and curriculum constraints prevent many language teachers from implementing intercultural teaching, even where they value it. In addition, teachers are placing additional constraints upon themselves, often making intercultural opportunities dependent on learners’ linguistic ability. Yet CLIL materials used in the intervention with low to mid ability students were successful in increasing affective motivation, cultural knowledge as well as learners’ intercultural understanding, through exposure to cognitively challenging content. This study makes several notable contributions: firstly, it highlights the importance of material choice when teaching for intercultural understanding; secondly, it gives a voice for teachers and learners of foreign languages to express their views on the importance they themselves attach to the teaching and learning of intercultural understanding; thirdly, it provides a useful insight in the use of a CLIL approach for the teaching of languages other than English. Finally, it addresses the potential benefits of this approach for lower secondary students in England, with a particular focus on lower attaining students, where little empirical evidence exists. The research therefore recommends a greater place for intercultural understanding in policy, teacher training and practice, not limiting the onus of delivery to language teachers alone. It also recommends the development a corpus of intercultural materials, the use of technology to develop a community of practitioners for intercultural teaching, and targeting the most receptive age group for intercultural teaching.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Graham, S. and King, B.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:73485
Date on Title Page:2016

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