Merisuo-Storm, Tuula
April 2009
Journal of Education Research;2009, Vol. 3 Issue 1/2, p69
Academic Journal
The study described in the article investigated the effects of bilingual teaching (Content and Language Integrated Learning, CLIL) on the development of children's literacy skills during their first six school years. In the CLIL classes, 21-25 per cent of the instruction was given in a foreign language. The results of the study showed that the children in the CLIL classes learned to read and write their first language equally as well as their peers in monolingual classes. In addition, bilingual teaching did not have a negative effect on the development of those children who started school with poor learning readiness. After the two first study years, the children in the CLIL classes were more fluent readers and had better reading comprehension and spelling skills than their peers in the other classes. After four school years, it was obvious that the children's creative writing skills had also benefited from bilingual teaching. The students in the CLIL classes had learned to pay attention to foreign languages as well as to their mother tongue. Moreover, they had more positive attitudes towards reading, writing and foreign language learning. The boys' attitudes especially proved to be more positive in the CLIL classes than in the other classes. After six study years the students in the CLIL classes had achieved significantly better first language spelling skills than the students in the other classes. They made significantly fewer spelling errors and understood different texts significantly better. Furthermore, they showed more proficiency in deriving the meaning of new words from the written context than the other students. Likewise, they succeeded significantly better in finding the most important facts of the non-fiction text and summarising the text than their peers in the other classes. It is worth mentioning that in the other classes the girls' skills were significantly better than the boys' skills, but in CLIL classes the difference was not significant. The students in the CLIL classes enjoyed studying the foreign language and also studying through it. Consequently, their foreign language skills developed very well.


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