Aptitude for Vocabulary among Medical CLIL Students (Content and Language Integrated Learning): An empirical research project

By Jean Stephenson and Elaine Hewitt.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

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This original empirical research study scrutinised certain aspects of the results of a kind of mixed education and specifically in this article, foreign language vocabulary aptitude was looked at. Of late, many countries have put ‘bilingual’ or CLIL education (Content and Language Integrated Learning) into practice within their secondary schools (for example, Plan for Encouragement of Plural-lingualism: Andalusia Education Council, Spain, 2005). All the same, few studies have originated from the consequences of this CLIL system at secondary school, and even fewer have monitored the progress of these learners on continuing their studies at university. The findings explained here were part of those discovered by a national r+d project (research and development) generated by, and given to, its current director - the present second author of this article. We gathered facts and figures on the students entering university from secondary schools and/or these ‘bilingual’ CLIL schools.
The participants at this precise point of the project were 32 students taking a degree in Medicine and were Spanish-speaking university elective bilinguals. This study was of a descriptive research type, and took one academic year to amass and tabulate the answers to four psychometric tests and one background questionnaire from these participants. The results showed the variables related to successful word knowledge in English on the PLAB scale of aptitude for languages (Pimsleur, 2003) related to specific aspects of the subjects’ demographic information, which had been collected with the PBPDD questionnaire (Hewitt, 2006) on personal features and aspects of the students.

Keywords: Vocabulary Aptitude, Empirical Research Study, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), ‘Bilingual’ CLIL Education, National Research Project

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.87-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 293.221KB).

Dr. Jean Stephenson

Lecturer, Department of English, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Granada, Campus Cartuja, Granada, Spain

Jean Stephenson is associate lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Granada, Spain. She currently teaches English at the Arts and Letters faculty and English for Specific Purposes at the Medical School. She is also a teacher trainer at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, the University of Granada language school. She has a special interest in language anxiety and an empirical study on that topic was the focus of her doctoral thesis (2006). Dr. Stephenson has published articles on many aspects of teaching English and is co-author of a book on teaching English in Primary, Didáctica del Inglés para Primaria (Longman-Pearson Educación, 2003). She has translated articles on sociology, philosophy and psychology which have been published in international journals, such as Modern Logic and British Journal of Educational Psychology. She has recently had a joint-research article published in the “MLJ - Modern Language Journal” with Dr. Hewitt.

Elaine Hewitt

Senior Tenured Lecturer, Department of English, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Granada, Campus Cartuja, Granada, Spain

Dr. Elaine Hewitt is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English and German. She has a CV covering a total of 28 years. As there is not enough room here to describe everything - briefly to say amongst many other merits are the following: 10 of these years were with the British Council as a teacher and teacher trainer. Furthermore, this academic year, will mark an additional 14 years working in the Department of English at the aforementioned university. This total of 28 years is of experience in teaching, management and research. She has more than 60 publications, with articles in international prestigious academic journals such as “Educational Psychology”, and that of “Perspectives: Studies in Translatology”. She was the Coordinator of her department’s Masters and Doctoral Programmes for 4 years, establishing its Master’s degree and obtaining for it a quality certificate or mention from the Ministry of Education. She has recently had a joint-research article published in the “MLJ - Modern Language Journal”.