Invited Speakers

Tarja Nikula

Centre for Applied Language Studies

University of Jyväskylä (Finland)


Language matters in subject-specific knowledge building: bridging CLIL theory and practice

Main Abstract:

The term content and language integrated learning (CLIL) refers to educational contexts where an additional/foreign language is used as the medium of instruction. English-medium CLIL is particularly widespread as it is often considered as a form of instruction that can enhance internationalisation, often in contexts where English is the lingua franca for students and teachers alike. While much of research has approached such contexts from the perspective of various language proficiency issues, recent research developments have started to shift the focus from language and its learning as such towards the role of language in discipline- and subject-specific knowledge-building and display. As a result, theoretical frameworks exist that seek to explicate the intertwined nature of content and language in and to reconceptualise language and its learning in content-based scenarios. However, less is known of how such theories resonate with teachers’ everyday classroom realities. Drawing on an ongoing research project on subject-specific knowledge building practices, this presentation will address the interplay between research and practitioner insights, arguing for the necessity to bridge theory and practice, both to support CLIL teacher development and to further refine theoretical frameworks.

Brief Bio:

Tarja Nikula is professor in the Centre for Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research interests include socio-functional approaches to language learning, multilingual classroom interaction, disciplinary literacy orientations to content and language integrated learning, and the conceptual challenges that CLIL poses for central notions within applied linguistics. She has published widely in these areas. For example, she has co-edited the volumes Language Use and Language Learning in CLIL Classrooms (2010, John Benjamins) and Conceptualising Integration in CLIL and Multilingual Education (2016, Multilingual Matters), and special issues on CLIL and translingual and multilingual pedagogies for journals.

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