SCAFFOLDING LEARNERS IN CLIL LESSONS
Scaffolding learners plays a substantial role in achieving foreign language objectives in CLIL lessons in which learners have to master the foreign language which is subject-specific (the language of learning), as well as academic language (language for learning). Since both the subject-specific and academic language are more abstract and are also cognitively more demanding than everyday language, learners need to be scaffolded by the teacher in order to be able to succeed in the process., which means they have to be taught the subject through the foreign language not in it. In this process, scaffolding plays an essential role because it helps learners overcome the cognitive gap between what they can do by themselves and what they can do if they receive help. It is believed that thanks to scaffolding learners can gain new skills and understand new concepts more effectively and much deeper.
The study which we are presenting is part of a research project carried out in Grade 5 (age group 10 - 11) at lower-secondary CLIL schools in the Žilina Region, Slovakia. The objective of the project is to find out whether CLIL lessons contribute to the process of the proceduralization of language knowledge. In the first part of the project we focus on finding out what kind of language develops in foreign language learners who learn it in regular English lessons as well as in CLIL lessons in which language becomes the means of study, and a tool for gaining content knowledge. In the first stage of the research we analyze worksheets prepared by CLIL teachers from the point of view of language learning and language acquisition and compare it with language they gain in regular English lessons. Another objective of the study is to find out what kind of language teachers focus on in their plans; which language structures (if any) are provided to learners; and how various language structures are presented in order to help learners develop their academic language. We also focus on the ways teachers use to scaffold learners in CLIL lessons so that learners can achieve language objectives set for these lessons.