A1 Journal article – refereed
Students’ first language skills after six years in bilingual education




List of Authors: Tuula Merisuo-Storm, Marjaana Soininen
Publisher: MCSER – Mediterranean Center of Social and Educational Research
Place: Rome
Publication year: 2014
Journal: Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
Volume number: 5
Issue number: 22
eISSN: 2039-2117

Abstract



The longitudinal study investigated the effects of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) on the development of children’s literacy skills during their first six school years. In the three CLIL classes students studied, from the very beginning of the first grade, different school subjects in Finnish and in English. Three other classes were used as a control group. The students in those classes studied all school subjects in Finnish and started to learn English as a second language in third grade. At the beginning of the first grade, the level of school readiness was significantly higher in the bilingual classes than in the monolingual classes. At the end of the first grade, there was no significant difference in the literacy skills of the two groups, but after two study years, the reading and writing skills of the test group were significantly better than those of the control group. 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 languages, as well to their mother tongue as to other languages. Moreover, they had more positive attitudes towards reading, writing and foreign language learning. Especially the boys’ attitudes proved to be more positive in the CLIL classes than in the other classes. In addition, they enjoyed studying English and also studying through it. The students’ spelling skills and ability to understand different texts were measured during the last month of their sixth school year. The measurements showed that the students in the CLIL classes had achieved significantly better first language spelling and reading skills than the students in the other classes. They made significantly less spelling errors and understood significantly better fiction, non-fiction, and newspaper texts. Furthermore, they showed more proficiency in deriving the meaning of new words from the written context than the other students. 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 especially the boys seemed to have benefited from bilingual education: in the other classes the girls’ skills were significantly better than the boys’ but this was not the case in the CLIL classes





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