CHALLENGES IN ENGINEERING STUDIES: ARE SPANISH STUDENTS PREPARED TO FOLLOW THE CLIL MODEL IN ENGINEERING DISCIPLINES?
Europe has been encouraging, for over twenty years now, the integration of content and language instruction in all education levels. However, Spanish universities have only recently introduced this system and the convergence of content and language instruction in higher education level is still far from being consolidated, when compared to other European countries. A key factor in the CLIL development has been the great increase of student mobility, through Erasmus programs and the like, as a result of the great promotion encouraged by the different EU policies and measures. Indeed, Spain is the country with the highest number of students enrolled in Erasmus programs in Europe. As a result, the demand for the technical universities graduates with a thorough technical education and good command of English is outstripping supply. This has encouraged language, and non-language professors to implement the model of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) across the curriculum in the engineering technical university classrooms. Here, some teaching experiences in higher education carried out with students of the Technical University of Madrid, in Spain are presented. The experience of applying the CLIL model to some courses offered at the Building Engineering degree has proofed an interesting challenge both for teachers and for students. Among the results obtained, the following ones can be highlighted: it has favored the integration of subject specific target language technical terminology, it has provided opportunities to study technical issues through different perspectives, it has increased learners’ motivation, and it has clearly prepared students for internalizing contexts. This experience has also given the opportunity to increase the number of foreign students attending the classes and encouraged mobility throughout. In addition, regarding general statements on the effect of CLIL on students, language learning outcomes have been surprisingly positive.