Extramural English and academic vocabulary. A longitudinal study of CLIL and non-CLIL students in Sweden

Eva Olsson, Liss Kerstin Sylvén

Academic writing, CLIL, Academic vocabulary, Extramural English, EFL


In content and language integrated learning (CLIL), where school subjects are taught trough an L2 – in this case English – students often reach higher L2 proficiency levels than students who follow regular education. There are also indications that English encountered and used outside of school, e.g. through books, computer games or films, may be as influential as CLIL instruction for vocabulary growth. However, there is little research on the development of academic vocabulary in this connection, and few studies have considered students’ use of English outside school, when evaluating the effect of CLIL instruction. In this study, male and female CLIL and non-CLIL students’ use of English in their spare time is investigated and compared (N=230). Further, the possible impact of extramural English on students’ progress in academic vocabulary use in writing is investigated. The results indicate that CLIL students use English in their spare time to a significantly greater extent than non-CLIL students. Male CLIL students, who used English outside school most frequently, also included the highest proportion of academic vocabulary in their essays. However, they did not progress more than other students; extramural English does not seem to have any significant impact on progress of academic vocabulary over time.

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