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Visualizing Vocabulary, an investigation of student assignments in CLIL and non-CLIL context

Conference contribution
Authors Elisabeth Ohlsson
Published in Paperpresentation, ARLE, International Association for Research in L1 Education, Konferens i Tallinn juni 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Language en
Keywords CLIL, non-CLIL, vocabulary, students´texts, academic writing
Subject categories Specific Languages


The study describes the investigation of students’ texts written in L1, by the CLIL and the non-CLIL students participating in the CLISS-project during their three-year Upper Secondary School period, 2011-2014. The focus is on the academic language proficiency in Swedish, where the practices of certain linguistic features characterizing academic texts are investigated. In the study 520 texts are examined, and the aim is to visualize and study students’ productive vocabulary in written assignments by using quantitative measures. For this purpose, corpus linguistic methods have been applied to identify the usage of nominalizations and verbs in the passive tense, which are two features in academic prose (Schleppegrell 2004). In addition, lexical profiling (Nation & Anthony 2016), identifying some of the most frequent words in Swedish, was carried out to visualize the general vocabulary and to explore to what degree the students´ vocabulary contains the most frequent and common words or if, and to what extent, they use low- frequency words. Combining these two methods will be beneficial examining the vocabulary in the students´ texts. The results are reported as the means of the two student groups and analyzed using SPSS, version 22. Moreover, the texts have been examined by using quantitative measures as text length, word length, and word variation index (see Magnusson & Johansson Kokkinakis 2009, Vagle 2005). The various measures seek to explore if there are differences in the vocabulary use between male and female students or CLIL and non CLIL students. The two groups of students involved in the study are those who have Swedish as the main language of instruction, the non-CLIL-group, and those who have English as the main language of instruction, the CLIL-group. Both groups follow the Swedish National Curriculum for the Upper Secondary School (Lgy11, 2011) and, in learning Swedish, both groups have had this subject as mandatory. Results indicate that the various quantitative measures show significant differences between the two groups regarding the text length where the CLIL students write longer texts in all assignments investigated. However no statistical significant difference is found in the usage of nominalizations and verbs in the passive tense between the two groups. The findings suggest that explicit education concerning academic writing in L1, would be favorable for all students, regardless of language of instruction.

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