How does CLIL affect the acquisition of reading comprehension in the mother tongue? A comparative study in secondary education

  • Esther Nieto Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha


In the last two decades, CLIL (content and language integrated learning) programmes, in which school subjects such as history, geography or mathematics are taught by means of an additional language, have rapidly spread over all the world, since CLIL has been deemed to be an innovative and effective approach for second language learning. Therefore, research on CLIL has precisely focused on the acquisition of the L2, while other aspects, such as the assimilation of the content taught by means of the second language or the impact of CLIL programmes on the mother tongue have received less attention.
In this sense, this paper examines how CLIL programmes affect the development of reading comprehension in the mother tongue. To do so, the outcomes in a test of reading comprehension of CLIL (n = 1,119) and non-CLIL students (= 15,984) enrolled in the 2nd year of secondary education (13-14 years-old) were compared. The results indicated that the acquisition of literal reading comprehension and inferential reading comprehension in the mother tongue significantly benefit from CLIL, whereas no significant differences have been detected in critical reading comprehension. The reading skills most benefited by CLIL were global comprehension, lexical comprehension, understanding of space-time relationships, integration of extra-textual information, and identification of extra-textual relations.
These data are explained by the critical importance of reading strategies to succeed in CLIL settings, and by the transfer of these strategies between L1 and L2 and vice versa. This hypothesis is supported by previous research on immersion programmes.


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Nieto, E. (2017). How does CLIL affect the acquisition of reading comprehension in the mother tongue? A comparative study in secondary education. Investigaciones Sobre Lectura, (8), 7-26. Recuperado a partir de