Greek Applied Linguistics Association
14th International Conference
Advances in Research on Language Acquisition and Teaching
14-16 December 2007
Capsis Hotel, Thessaloniki Greece
Current trends in L2
vocabulary learning and
instruction. Is CLIL the right
approach?
Maria Xanthou
University of Cyprus
Introduction
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Educational aims of European Union increasing
exposure to L2
Teaching subject matter through the medium of a
second or a foreign language  Content and Language
Integrated Learning (CLIL).
Common European Framework: participating in courses
in other curriculum subjects which employ L2 as a
medium of instruction’ (Council of Europe, 2001: 2).
Commission of European Communities (2003) - Action
Plan 2004-2006: pupils need to be able to ‘study at least
some of their curriculum through the medium of a
foreign language’ (p.11).
This study examines the impact of
CLIL on L2 vocabulary knowledge.
Implementing CLIL
Canada’s immersion education from the
1970’s (Harley et al, 1990)
 United States transition (Schleppegrell et
al, 2004).
 Last two decades  gaining prominence
(Chapple and Curtis, 2000)
 Wide applicability the last 15 years
(Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia,
Argentina, Europe)
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CLIL in Europe
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CLIL approach  a fast expanding
phenomenon in Europe as in the rest of
the world (Van de Craen & Mondt, 2007).
The Eurydice survey reveals that ‘the
initiatives in the field of CLIL have
increased in recent years’ (European
Commission, 2005: 55 p.55)
Studies revealing foreign
language gains
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Stoller (2004) improved language abilities and
content-area knowledge gains
Short (1994) retention of vocabulary and
content concepts
Gramkow (2001: 13)  more investigations into
the effects of CLIL teaching are needed.
Wesche (1993: 74)  need for carrying out
more longitudinal studies
L2 vocabulary development
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Vocabulary development is central to language
acquisition (Zimmerman,1997)
An effective approach: deep vocabulary
learning, activating prior knowledge, learning
vocabulary in context, active processing,
recalling new words, being provided multiple
exposures to new vocabulary allowing
incremental vocabulary learning  CLIL
satisfies these learning conditions
Vocabulary knowledge
Concept
Lemma
Lexical
pointers
Mental
Lexicon
Morphophonological
form
A view of the structure of the mental lexicon, illustrating a lexical entry
(Radford et al, 1999: 233)
lemma
meaning
morphology
syntax
form
lexeme
The lexical entry in the mental lexicon (Jiang, 2002: 619)
Word pairs and lists, and
the ‘Depth of processing
hypothesis’
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The majority of word pairs are not wholly
synonymous in terms of cultural or grammatical
aspects.
Depth of processing hypothesis: deep mental
processing, elaborate thought and manipulation
of new word (Craig and Tulvig, 1975)
Activating prior knowledge
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New words need to be incorporated into
language that is already known (Schmitt
and Schmitt, 1995, Stahl, 1983, Stoller
and Grabe, 1993, and Martin et al, 2002)
The formation of a rich network of
interwoven associations around oldestablished words seems to enable their
recall.
Learning vocabulary in context
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Context = ‘morphological, syntactic, and discourse
information in a given text’ ( Nation and Coady,
1988: 102)
When learning a language  Consider all systems of
language –discourse, semantics, phonology,
pragmatics (Rutherford, 1987, Nation, 2001)
Comprehension of discourse  when students make
meaningful connections between vocabulary and the
contexts in which it is found
Integrating content and language (CLIL) is rooted on
learning new vocabulary in the environment of
meaningful context.
Learning vocabulary in context
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Research in this area exposure to meaningful
language enhances vocabulary knowledge.
Coady (1997: 275-276) synthesis of
research: exposure to meaningful language
enhances vocabulary knowledge
CLIL methodology provides content-based
language environments where contexts
demonstrate the pragmatic value of target
words
Active processing
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Research review on vocabulary learning by
Mezynski (1983: 273) identified active
processing as an important factor associated
with effective vocabulary
CLIL provides opportunities for being
involved actively with target L2 words.
Recalling the new word
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Vocabulary programmes should allow
opportunities to the learner to recall a new
word (Schmitt and Schmitt, 1995: 135)
Repeated exposures to target
vocabulary
Providing several exposures to new words enables knowledge
of the words to grow. A single exposure : not enough for
learning a new word.
 Nation (1990) learners need to be involved in 5-16
repetitions in order to learn a new word.
 Herman et al (1987) the probability of learning a word from
context after a single exposure is only .05. Repeated
encounters with target words can expand word meanings and
illustrate new associations with that word.
 Rott (1999) examined the effect of exposure frequency on
intermediate learners’ incidental vocabulary acquisition: six
exposures produced significantly more vocabulary knowledge
than two or four exposure frequencies.
 A content-based approach provides recurring exposure to new
vocabulary
 Robinson (2005): explored CLIL teaching
 frequent repetition of the key vocabulary
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Repeated exposures allow
incremental vocabulary learning
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The meanings of a word can develop and
expand while dealing with meaning making
(Schmitt, 2000).
Repeated exposuresLinguistic frameworks
Noun phrase
Verb phrase
Adjective
phrase
(new
informati
on)
Noun phrase
A buggy
is
a very, very
simple
it
’s
a very, very
simple
moving
object
so it
’s going to be
a very, very
simple
moving
four wheeled
object or
vehicle
vehicle
Providing meaning using a linguistic framework
(Robinson, 2005: 442)
Learning L2 vocabulary in CLIL
classrooms
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CLIL: opportunities to activate background
knowledge, learn vocabulary in context,
process actively the new words, recall target
words, and be offered multiple exposures to
the new vocabulary.
The study
Research methodology
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Experimental pretest – posttest research
Quantitative data
Observation of video-taped lessons
Qualitative data
Hypothesis
The CLIL group was expected to have
significant gains in L2 vocabulary
knowledge, outperforming their
counterparts
a) who were not involved in CLIL
b) who were not involved in CLIL but were
exposed to the word list method
Experiment
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The subjects involved in the experiment
were sixty 11 year old – level 3 EFL
learners attending public primary schools.
NonCLIL:
G1  O1  X content L1  O2 (21)
CLIL: G2  P1  X content L2  P2 (24)
NonCLIL+Word Lists:
G3  R1  word lists  R2 (15)
Figure 1
Results
There were no sig. differences between the three
groups on vocabulary knowledge at the outset of
the study
ANOVA
GVocPre
df
Between Groups
Mean Square
2
35,499
Within Groups
57
88,407
Total
59
F
Sig.
,402
,671
CLIL - Non CLIL: t-test: ,685  no sign. difference
CLIL – Word List: t-test: ,635 (<,05) no sign. dif.
Pre test – post test performance of the experimental
group’s L2 vocabulary knowledge (CLIL)
Sig.difference (,000)
Pa ired Sample s Statis tic s
Me an
Pa ir
1
GVocPre
GVocPost
N
Std. Deviation
8,08 33
24
11 ,5 00 16
33 ,5 83 3
24
20 ,9 28 28
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences
Mean
GVocPre - GVocPost
-25,50000
Std. Deviation
11,33674
t
-11,019
Sig. (2-tailed)
,000
Pre test – post test performance of the control group’s L2
vocabulary knowledge (NonCLIL)
Sig.difference (,008)
Pa ired Sample s Statis tic s
Me an
Pa ir
1
N
Std. Deviation
GVocPre
6,95 24
21
5,67 87 0
GVocPost
7,85 71
21
5,71 21 4
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences
Mean
Pair 1
GVocPre - GVocPost
-,90476
Std. Deviation
1,41084
t
-2,939
df
Sig. (2-tailed)
20
,008
Pre test – post test performance of the Word List group’s
L2 vocabulary knowledge
Sig.difference (,000)
Pa ired Sample s Statis tic s
Me an
Pa ir
1
GVocPre
GVocPost
N
Std. Deviation
9,80 00
15
9,82 85 3
18 ,4 66 7
15
15 ,3 61 67
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences
Mean
Pair 1
GVocPre - GVocPost
-8,66667
Std. Deviation
7,28665
t
-4,606
Sig. (2-tailed)
,000
Post tests demonstrated sig.
differences between the three
groups
ANOVA
GVocPost
df
Between Groups
Mean Square
2
3760,731
Within Groups
57
246,143
Total
59
F
15,279
Sig.
,000
CLIL - Non CLIL: t-test:,000  sign. difference
CLIL – Word List: t-test:,014 (<,05)  sign. diff.
Observation data – Analysis of
video taped lessons
CLIL provides opportunities for
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1. Activating prior knowledge
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2. Learning vocabulary in context e.g. They
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3.Active processing of new vocabulary e.g.
e.g. Subjects
talked about the Amazon forests comparing them with
forests they know.
learned the words: ‘flora and fauna’ together with the
words ‘species, plants, jungle, birds, reptiles, amphibians,
mammals’.
They looked at maps and searched reading texts to find
information about topics and then had to decide whether
some statements were true or false, or fill in missing
The Amazon basin – Amazonia
True or False?
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Handout, p.3
The Amazon is the second in
length river of the world
It starts from Andes (Perou) to the
Pacific Ocean
The biggest part of the Amazon
basin is covered by plains.
The Amazon is navigable
(πλωτός)
Big boats can travel
There are many plants because of
the heavy rainfall.
The jungle of Amazon is one of the
most important biotopes in the
world
It is easy to walk and see all the
jungle
√
X
X
√
√
√
The role of the Amazon in the life of the
country
Handout, p.4
Flora and Fauna (Xλωρίδα και πανίδα)

http://www.tourist4tourist.c
om/blog/wpcontent/brazil_amazonia_r
ain_forest.jpg
http://www.br
azadv.com/br
azil_tours/flor
a.asp
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Flora (SWA 56)
Look at the map. What kind of
flora is there in the Amazon?
Unscramble the words:
rtoipacl froetss
…………………………………..
Tropical forests
Amazonia: 55,000 species of
plants
Observation data – Analysis
of video taped lessons
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4. Recalling new words
e.g. through memory games related to
content comprehension and language
focus activities
Lets play football!
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1. In Brazil, it is ………… with high
temperatures and rainfalls.
hot
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2. The climate in Brazil is ……..
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tropical
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a) Guessing game - Pictionary: Look at the
drawing. What is it? (A place where plants
and animals grow)
biotope
b) I spy a word beginning with f….
Flora
d) afnua =
fauna
e) r------l
Observation data – Analysis
of video taped lessons
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5. Repeated exposures to the target words
e.g. During 2 minutes the teacher said the
target word ‘tropical’ 7 times (lesson 2)
Using linguistic frameworks
e.g. Plantation is a big field. It’s a very big field.
It’s a very big cultivated field (cotton, tobacco)
(lesson 3)
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Pedagogical Implications
1.Impact of CLIL in content and L2 vocabulary
development.
2.CLIL provides increased opportunities for
exposing learners to L2 vocabulary knowledge
in meaningful situations - (Celce-Murcia and
Olshtein, 2000).
3.Attaching words to their surroundings
increases the likelihood of comprehension and
retention (Schmitt and Schmitt, 1995: 133).
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Limitations
a) Variables such as habits, student
motivation and personal exposure to other
language learning environments were not
controlled
b) Small sample  space and time
triangulations
c) The post-tests examined subjects’
immediate performance. A delayed test
could have examined whether learning is
retained or atrophied over time. Retesting participants  long-term benefits
of CLIL.
Directions for further research
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a) CLIL in subjects other than Geography
 safeguard the generalisability of
findings.
b) Examine the CLIL group’s productive
vocabulary knowledge and not only
receptive.
c) Explore the optimal conditions of CLIL
programs and the kind of instructional
strategies being used (Crandall, 1993:119)
d) Consider assessment of content-based
language instruction -reliable instrument
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Conclusion
Results provide evidence that CLIL has
beneficial effects on L2 vocabulary
learning.
Kaufman (2001: 313)  the symbiosis of
foreign language and content seems to be
promising in enhancing foreign language
acquisition.
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