Article 24 - Collaborative interaction in turn-taking

24 - Collaborative interaction in turn-taking: a comparative study of European bilingual (CLIL) and mainstream (MS) foreign language learners in early secondary education

Moore, Pat (2011)
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
First published on: 06 January 2011 (iFirst) (article) Paid access via URL:

This article describes research carried out with secondary school CLIL learners (CLIL) and Mainstream learners (MS) in order to analyze effectiveness of interactive communication between students with 79 10-minute interviews (158 informants) at 15 state secondary schools in Andalusia, Spain. (p.6)

The researcher identifies four turn types: 1) Individual turns; 2) Cooperative turns – a cooperative turn is co-constructed (with or without overlapping), either between learners as in Extract 2, or between the interlocutor and learner, as in Extract 3, or even between all three. In a cooperative turn, speakers share responsibility. 3) Embedded turns – Embedded turns represent contributions to another speaker’s ongoing turn (interactive support; linguistic support; affective support). 4) Empty turns. (p.8 and 10)

 ‘Overall, the MS learners take more turns… MS contributions were shorter than CLIL contributions… the MS learners were also taking more individual turns while the CLIL learners were involved in more cooperative turns and were more frequently embedding…Interpreting Co-Ts and embTs as collaboration, we can see that the CLIL learners are, indeed, collaborating more.’ p.9

 ‘…not only were cooperative constructions more frequent in the CLIL data, they also tended to be more extended.’ p.14

 ‘… it emerged that CLIL learners were involved in almost four times more cooperative turns than their MS counterparts and that they were embedding nearly twice as often…’ p. 15

 ‘CLIL learners provide mutual interactive, linguistic and affective support through embedding and they demonstrated greater engagement through both more and more extended cooperative constructions.’ p.15

Asks a very important question about collaborative interaction in MS learners ‘…how can we account for the fact that MS learners are collaborating even less even when L1 use is factored into the equation?...’ p.15

 ‘…CLIL learners are becoming better communicators all-round – even in their L1…’ p.15

Moore closes with something I take issue with (which is heartening in an article I literally lapped up with enthusiasm). She suggests that there is no CLIL method, only an approach. For me Content Teaching plus Teaching via Foreign Language equals CLIL methodology otherwise it’s immersion or bilingual. Moore suggests that the CLIL advantage shown in the research is in part down to the increase in L2 provision, but then goes on to suggest other factors such as group-work, pair-work, team teaching also contribute. I find this confusing. Surely, the interaction in the classroom listed which is partly responsible for the success of the CLIL learners in interaction in the research is evidence of methodology at work as opposed to simply a different approach to teaching the subject?

Otherwise, many thanks to the researchers, the article is a great read, and very positive about CLIL.

Follow up:

Other references to follow up include other research which cites CLIL advantage. As Moore says, now is the time we are going to see more detailed and specific research, which will throw up more detailed aspects of successful classroom practice that we can discuss and share. I'll try and locate these articles, read them if possible and give them their own page and comments when I get round to it. It's good to have so much to follow up on.

L2 doesn’t negatively affect content learning:

Serra C 2007

Assessing CLIL in primary school: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 10 no. 5: 582-602

Stohler U 2006

The acquisition of knowledge in bilingual learning: An empirical study on the role of content in language learning. ViewZ 15, no. 2: 295-8

Vollmer H 2008

Constructing tasks for content and language integrated assessment. In Research on task-based language learning and teaching. Theoretical, methodological and pedagogical perspectives, ed. J Eckerth and S Siekmann, 227-90. Frankfurt: Peter Lang

CLIL offers cognitive advantages:

Gassner, D., and D. Maillat. 2006.

Spoken competence in CLIL: A pragmatic take on recent Swiss data. ViewZ (Vienna English Working Papers) 15, no. 3: 15_22.

Jaeppinen, A.-K. 2005.

Thinking and content learning of mathematics and science as cognitional development in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Teaching through a foreign language in Finland. Language and Education 19, no. 2: 148[1]69.

Van de Craen, P., E. Ceuleers, and K. Mondt. 2007.

Cognitive development and bilingualism in primary schools: Teaching maths in a CLIL environment. In Diverse contexts, converging goals. CLIL in Europe, ed. D. Marsh and D. Wolff, 185[1]200. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

significant L2 gains:

Admiraal, W., G. Westhoff, and K. de Bot. 2006.

Evaluation of bilingual secondary education in the Netherlands: Students’ language proficiency in English. Educational Research and Evaluation 12, no. 1: 75[1]93.

DESI-Konsortium. 2006.

Unterricht und Kompetenzerwerb in Deutsch und Englisch. Zentrale Befunde der Studie Deutsch-Englisch-Schuelerleistungen-International [Education and skills acquisition in German and English. Key findings of the International German-English School Services Study]. Frankfurt/Main: Deutsches Institut fuer Internationale Paedagogische Forschung.

Lorenzo, F., S. Casal, and P. Moore. 2010.

The effects of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in European education: Key findings from the Andalusian Bilingual Sections evaluation project. Applied Linguistics 31, no. 3: 418-42.

a beneficial impact on L1 development:

Merisuo-Storm, T. 2007.

Pupils’ attitudes towards foreign-language learning and the development of literacy skills in bilingual education. Teaching and Teacher Education 23, no. 2: 226-35.

Nikolov, M., and J. Mihaljevic´ Djigunovic´. 2006.

Recent research on age, second language acquisition and early foreign language learning. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 26: 234-60.

positive attitude:

Lasagabaster, D., and J.M. Sierra. 2009.

Language attitudes in CLIL and traditional FL classes. International Journal of CLIL Research 1, no. 2: 4-17.

Seikkula-Leino, J. 2007.

CLIL learning: Achievement levels and affective factors. Language and Education 21, no. 4: 328-41.