Developing academic register in CLIL: UK-based Spanish L2 students’ Latin America Political Economy writing in the UK

Neil Hughes

Abstract


This paper analyses student academic writing on a CLIL-module in Contemporary Latin American Political Economy delivered in Spanish on the Modern Languages degree at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.  The analysis draws on student posts to a module discussion board used to debate, in Spanish, ideas, texts, issues and themes from the module syllabus.

It refutes the claim that for learners to make the transition to more formal registers requires CLIL teachers to incorporate an explicit focus on the words and structures that produce it. Instead it emphasises the importance of regular reading, writing and social interaction in the development of students’ academic writing proficiency.  The incorporation of these elements into the module’s pedagogical framework ensures that students enjoy extended exposure to academic language and opportunities to use academic discourse for their own communicative ends.

The article adds to the developing body of CLIL research in a number of ways: it assesses a wider range of lexico-grammatical variables than most other studies in the field; it looks at a subject discipline, Latin American Political Economy, not yet addressed in CLIL research; it contributes to the diversification of CLIL research away from its almost exclusive focus on English towards other important world languages; it adds to the, at present, limited body of UK-based empirical research into this important approach to language and content teaching.


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