“I Wouldn’t Say There Is Anything Language Specific”: The Disconnect between Tertiary CLIL Teachers’ Understanding of the General Communicative and Pedagogical Functions of Language





Higher education, teacher education, language of instruction, discussions, questions


CLIL teachers, particularly in tertiary “hard” CLIL settings, tend to underestimate the role of language for developing conceptual understanding of new content. Nevertheless, they consistently engage with English outside the classroom and even report a variety of activities that they carry out in English with the explicit hope that this will improve their language skills. However,
they do not seem to develop transfer strategies that would allow them to benefit from this language engagement in their teaching. The results of a nation-wide study on CLIL teacher wellbeing in Austria confirmed this disconnect, prompting our present follow-up study, which aims to combine teacher training and research and to raise tertiary CLIL teachers’ levels of Teacher Language Awareness (TLA). By means of an online questionnaire, class observations and stimulated recall interviews, we explored teachers’ conceptualization of language, specifically their awareness of the language needed for effective content teaching. Results suggest that research-based TLA coaching must be part of CLIL teacher training to resolve the disconnect between the general communicative functions of language, on the one hand, and the pedagogical functions of language, on the other hand. This can help teachers unlock the potential of their existing language engagement for improving their classroom discourse and practices. 


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Author Biographies

Ulla Fürstenberg, University of Graz

Senior Lecturer

English Department

University of Graz

Tom Morton, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Tom Morton is Beatriz Galindo Distinguished Researcher in the Department of English Philology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. His research interests include CLIL, EMI and language teacher knowledge and identity.

Petra Kletzenbauer, FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences

Petra Kletzenbauer is a university lecturer at the FH Joanneum, Austria. Her research interests include CLIL and English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

Margit Reitbauer, University of Graz

Margit Reitbauer is a university professor at the Department of English Studies, University of Graz, Austria. Her research interests include reading research, computer-mediated communication, discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics.


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How to Cite

Fürstenberg, U., Morton, T., Kletzenbauer, P., & Reitbauer, M. (2022). “I Wouldn’t Say There Is Anything Language Specific”: The Disconnect between Tertiary CLIL Teachers’ Understanding of the General Communicative and Pedagogical Functions of Language. Latin American Journal of Content &Amp; Language Integrated Learning, 14(2), 293–322. https://doi.org/10.5294/laclil.2021.14.2.5