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Liss Kerstin Sylvén


Department of Education and Special
+46 31-786 23 80
Visiting address
Västra Hamngatan 25
41117 Göteborg
Room number
A3 235
Postal address
Box 300
40530 Göteborg

About Liss Kerstin Sylvén

Research interests

As a linguist, primarily focused on English, I am interested in second/foreign language learning. Above all, I have come to take an interest in Content and Language Integrated Learning, CLIL.

In my PhD thesis, I studied the development of English vocabulary among CLIL (one or several non-language subjects are taught through the medium of English) and non-CLIL  (all teaching is done in Swedish, and English is studied as a separate subject) students at high shool level. One of the findings was that students who have contacts with English also outside of school, regardless whether they were CLIL or non-CLIL students, were those whose vocabulary developed the most. This led to a follow-up study, where I investigated how much and what types of contact with English (and other languages) high school students have outside of school.This study has developed into a close collaboration with Dr Pia Sundqvist, Karlstad University, in which we study effects of extramural English, i.e. English encountered outside of the school environment, on proficiency in and learning of English.

Furthermore, I collaborate with Dr Amy S. Thompson, University of South Florida, whose main research interest concerns language learning motivation. Together with investigate various national contexts from the perspective of young people's and adolescents' views on language learning and what motivates them to study languages.

Since 2011 I am the project leader for the large-scale, longitudinal research project Content and Language Integration in Swedish Schools, CLISS (financed by the Swedish Research Council). CLISS is a four-year project primarily aimed at studying the relationship between the language of instruction and learning. We have followed students in CLIL and non-CLIL classes during their three years in high school. The focus of the project is specifically on students' proficiency in and development of written academic language in both English and Swedish. Several publications are available from the project - for further information, please see

Educational interests

Presently, I am the main supervisor of Eva Olsson, whose PhD work is done within the framework of the CLISS project.

I was the supervisor of Helena Reierstam and Linda Borger (deputy supervisor), both enrolled in the research school FRAM. Both Helena and Linda have defended their licentiate theses.

I am the course leader for the course HPE301 "English as the medium of instruction in higher education", administered by the PIL unit.

Key words

CLIL; second/foreign language acquisition; motivation; individual differences; vocabulary learning; writing process.