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IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS)

Volume 20, Issue 9, Ver. II (Sep. 2015), PP 45-51


e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845.
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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students


responses the case of the National Institute of Post and
Telecommunications
Dr. Khalid SOUSSI
Department of Management, languages and communication INPT, Av Allal Al Fassi, Madinat Al Irfane, Rabat

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to analyze the responses of students to the content and language integrated
learning (CLIL) at a higher education institute in Rabat, the National Institute for Post and Telecommunications
(INPT), to the CLIL implementation in the department of Languages, Communication and Management. A
questionnaire was addressed to students for the collection of data. It mainly investigated aspects such as the
effects of FL instruction on their own linguistic competence, learning strategies, and their general attitudes
towards content course instruction in English.
Given the difficulties of term definitions, attitude is described as a set of beliefs developed over a time course in
a specific socio-cultural setting. Considerable research has proved attitudes facilitating learning (Drneyi,
1990; Drneyi, 2001; Gardner & Lambert, 1972). Learning results have been strongly associated with positive
attitudes towards the courses, the linguistic means or the instructors. Here comes the importance of
investigating the CLIL classrooms; language is not the target itself, but it is the medium through which content
is transported.
The learners have two tasks in CLIL classrooms; they have a content that may be technical or in human
sciences, and they also need to learn the language in which it is being delivered. To meet this end, a group of
38 students from the Departments of various engineering departments who study various subjects in English
have been selected. They were asked to fill in a questionnaire whose ultimate goal is to unveil their self
perception of their language development as well as any change in their learning strategies in comparison with
the traditional language classes. It is believed in this study that the learners own perception and attitude, and
language aptitude constitute the pivotal elements in shaping success in learning subjects through English in
Morocco. However, the present study does not investigate how the sociolinguistic factors determine the
students attitudes but aspires to lead a detailed survey of their responses as to the relationship between CLIL
courses and their language skill development and learning strategies.
Keywords: CLIL, EMI, higher education, learning strategy, language skill, response

I.

Introduction

English has been used globally as a lingua franca in the international job market and also for
scientific research in almost every field, especially in technology; these have been the ultimate motives behind
the implementation of the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) at INPT, Rabat, Morocco. This
goes hand in hand with the general European tendency to use the CLIL approach in higher education (Aguilar
and Rodrguez, 2012; Dafouz, 2011; Dafouz and Nez, 2009; Dafouz et al, 2007). However, there is still a
noticeable need in the Moroccan context to use English as a medium of instruction in higher education,
especially in the fields of engineering, marketing and economics as the graduates in these fields generally work
for multinational businesses or national ones that operate on an international scope.
Dalton-Puffer points out that three factors are currently putting pressure on Europes traditionally
monolingual national education systems: the internationalization of communication, the increasing
diversification of populations as a result of mobility and immigration, and the need to strive for the integration
of the Union by enhancing the multilingualism of its citizens (2011: 9).
For the last decades, many educational practices have taken place as a response to the
abovementioned motives within Europe under the umbrella term: CLIL. As a case in point, in the Madrid
community area, CLIL is being implemented at four education levels: pre-primary, primary, secondary and also
in tertiary education ( Fortanet, 2004; Lagasabaster, 2011). Maz-Arvalo and Domnguez-Romero (2013) claim
that the tertiary level offers the broadest spectrum, its heterogeneity being due to the lack of a common
curriculum at university settings (p.2). It should also be taken into consideration whether the abovementioned
courses are ones that focus on disciplinary content e.g. business, human sciences, etc. i.e. whether English
functions only as a means of instruction (EMI) or whether they really do integrate language skills along with

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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students responses the case of the National
content (CLIL). In this regard many researchers describe these situations as pro-CLIL (Dafouz and Nez,
2010: 213).
Airey (2011) claims that EMI has already been implemented and analysed in other European countries
like Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Sweden at the tertiary level; in this regard, the investigation
of CLIL implementation in the Moroccan context has taken more and more importance in the recent years, and
here comes the importance of investigating the INPT context where the attitudes of the participants are
considered i.e. there is a lack of studies that have taken the latter into consideration. This situation takes on
more importance given the fact that CLIL is primarily a student-centred approach which poses a higher
cognitive challenge to students (Coyle, Hood and Marsh, 2010).
This approach, however, must be carefully balanced. As stated by Coyle et al. (2010: 88), even though
the ultimate educational goal is to challenge CLIL learners through the use of cognition objectives, at the same
time it must be assured that the challenge does not result in anxiety and reduced motivation. Hence, the study
has included the investigation of relationships between CLIL implementation and other variables such as their
overall improvement in language skills, the use of learning strategies, their perceived advantages and
disadvantages of CLIL courses,.
In this respect, Fernndez and Halbach (2011) highlight the impressions of primary education
instructors who have participated in Spanish CLIL programmes where CLIL was implemented in 2004. Their
study reveals that as regards the effect on teachers, the overall evaluation is positive (73.2%) despite the fact
that teaching in a language that is a second one is extremely difficult (Fernndez and Halbach, 2011: 256, in
Maz-Arvalo and Domnguez-Romero: 2013:5). The researchers also used interviews with teachers to probe
into their overall impressions.
Sierras study (2011) investigated secondary education students impressions and opinions of the
implementation of CLIL via the means of a questionnaire. However, his study analyses project work and CLIL
in secondary education. Nevertheless, the results reveal that the students are very positive towards the
implementation of CLIL as 86.5% opted for the very good or good options regarding the program) and 79.6%,
were motivated, which reflects similar results to those obtained in the current study.
The study at hand aims thus to analyze university students responses to pro-CLIL implementation in
the degrees offered by the National Institute of Post and Telecommunications-Rabat, Morocco.
The paper contains three more sections. After the introduction, section two describes the method of
the study and the design of the questionnaire for the collection of data. The section also describes the
participants. In section three, the findings - in terms of skill improvement, learning strategies and the students
acquisition of content and overall performance- are presented. The main conclusions, with some pedagogical
implications and points to future research are summarized in the last section.

II.

Method

This section describes the general method followed in this study.


2.1. Subjects
Table 1 below describes the demography of the participants in the study.
Table 1: Subjects of the study
Number

Age

Gender

Linguistic background

38

22/24

M: 18
F: 20

Moroccan Arabic: 38
Amazigh: 12
French: 38

Years studying
English
6 to10

Other languages
Spanish: 7
Italian: 3 German: 3

It is noteworthy at this stage to mention that the present study does not purport to include the effects of
the factors described in table 1 in the analysis of the results.
2.2. Data collection instrument
The main tool for data collection in the study was an anonymous questionnaire that was designed by
the researchers. It comprised eleven items and included closed questions and open questions. In the closed items
students could choose from several options based on a three-option and five-option Likert scale (see appendix
A); finally, two items/questions provided students with a list of choices: in the case of item 2, the list was open
i.e. the participants could add further options and could choose from one to all of the items. The last item
offered a closed list of choices where students could choose only one option).
Even the closed questions were accompanied by a further open question where students had the
opportunity to develop their answers. Fully open questions were also incorporated in the questionnaire in order
to avoid the disadvantages of instruments based uniquely on closed questions (Oppenheim, 1992). Here, more
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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students responses the case of the National
free and open space was given to students to express their opinions and reflections on any issue they deem
relevant (see Appendix A). The majority of questionnaires were anonymously completed in class and some were
done online. The students were asked to work on an individual basis. Most of them did the questionnaire in
about twenty minutes.
The different sections of the questionnaire were specifically designed to elicit information about the
participants perceptions of the abovementioned aspects, specifically language skills, learning strategies, and
acquisition of contents and overall performance.
2.3. Research questions & hypotheses
The study intends to answer the four research questions below.
(i) Do students perceive any improvement in their English language skills with the CLIL approach?
(ii) What are the strategies used to improve their learning of English for CLIL courses?
(iii) Will the students be more motivated for the CLIL courses compared to the traditional language ones?
Out of the abovementioned questions, the following hypotheses have been advanced.
1. Since most of the courses are given in the form of lectures and that students are required to present parts of
the courses themselves, it is believed that speaking and listening would benefit more than other skills.
2. Since the courses encompass a significant number of ideas and terminology, it is thought that asking teachers
and using dictionaries would be most used compared to other strategies.
3. Motivation will increase in the CLIL courses.

III.

Findings

The different findings regarding the students responses to the development of their language skills as
well as to their learning strategies in CLIL courses are presented in statistical graphs and commented in this
section.
3.1. Language skills
This section is devoted to the students personal reports on the improvement of their language skills,
namely reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, writing, grammar accuracy, vocabulary
acquisition, and pronunciation in the CLIL courses.

Figure 1: statistical representation of students reports on reading comprehension improvement


The first fact to be noticed, the biggest section of students (41%) confirms a partial improvement in
their reading skill whereas a third of the participant sample (30.77%) notice very little improvement. In fact, this
means that they believe that reading is positively influenced by the programme.

Figure 2: statistical representation of students reports on listening comprehension improvement


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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students responses the case of the National
As one can see in graph 2 above, students perceive that their listening skills are improving partially as well
(38.46%). One can advance at this point that the receptive/passive skills are generally perceived to develop
positively by the CLIL programme.

Figure 3: statistical representation of students reports on speaking improvement


Similarly, almost 39% consider that their speaking skills are also improving partially, but almost 29%
consider that their speaking has improved a lot (Graph 3 above). This differs positively from the reading skill.
As for writing, it is negatively rated; in fact, it is scored by 30.7% of the informants in this case as partial.

Figure 4: statistical representation of students reports on writing improvement


At the end, vocabulary growth has been the highest scored language aspect that has been scored by
48.72% as a lot of improvement. This fact is also relatively easy to understand as the students use a lot of
discipline terminology in English (see graph 5 below).

Figure 5: statistical representation of students reports on vocabulary growth


As far as pronunciation is concerned, this is the skill that has been scored the highest among the
investigated skills; 53.85% of the participants confirmed that their pronunciation has improved a lot and
38.46% perceived a partial improvement of this skill (graph 6 below).
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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students responses the case of the National

Figure 6: statistical representation of students reports on pronunciation improvement


As far as the grammar skill is concerned, a striking negative response was unanimously agreed upon
(see table 7 below); 48.72% of the students report a little improvement in their EFL grammar. This highlights
the need for more focus on this aspect (see discussion section below).

Figure 7: statistical representation of students reports on grammar improvement


In a nutshell, there has been a generally positive response as far as reading and listening
comprehension, a very positive response as far as vocabulary and pronunciation are concerned and a very
negative response concerning grammar in CLIL courses.
3.2. Learning strategies
The study has also set as a goal to reveal whether students adopt a certain order of importance to their
learning strategies in the CLIL programmes.

Figure 8: statistical representation of students reports on language learning strategies in CLIL courses
Out of the five suggested options, translation use has come out top of the list, with 24/38 (almost 75%)
confirming that it is used when encountering difficult terminology. In the second place come dictionary use,
peer discussion and detailed reading (47-49% of students). Taking notes came in the third place with only 15/38
students (almost 44%). It is noteworthy at this stage to highlight the fact that even if the students specialize in
telecom engineering, two important metalinguistic strategies come at the top of their most used ones.
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CLIL in Moroccan Higher Education: a Survey of Students responses the case of the National
3.3. Motivation
The majority of students expressed an overwhelmingly high motivation for CLIL courses. 45% said
they are highly motivated whereas 35% opted for very motivated and only 17% said they were not motivated.
The main explanations presented in their answers included the acquisition of more technical knowledge, the
mastery of technical terminology and it is different from the traditional language courses. Nevertheless, some
students pointed out that the course have too many technical terms and some lose motivation. Some even
described some teachers as they do not master English and its full of mistakes.

IV.

Discussion and Conclusions

As stated at the beginning of the paper, the main aim of the present study was to present university
students response to CLIL implementation in the subjects offered by the Economics and human sciences and
languages department at INPT, Rabat.
The study has focused on these three aspects: the students perception of their improvement of English
language skills within this programme, their strategies to improve their learning of English, and their degree of
motivation when the contents are taught in English.
As far as the perception of language skills improvement is concerned, students responses revealed that
the two skills they considered to have improved the most were listening and speaking compared to reading and
writing. Many studies go in the same direction and agree with these findings on CLIL ( Dalton Puffer, 2008;
Lyster, 2007; Marsh, 2001). Secondly, as for the learning strategies, translation and dictionary use were the two
mostly used ones.
However, students answers also included the use of more interactive and metalinguistic strategies;
peer-interaction and detailed reading came in the second place. Third, as hypothesis 3 predicts, motivation was
higher as they believe significant content is learnt through English. Many studies stress this factor in language
achievement (Drney, and Csizr, 2002, Drneyi, 2001, Lagasabaster, 2011). The majority of the students also
stressed the fact that English is the language of technology, and that its mastery would pave the way for better
careers. Yet, almost one fifth of the participants said they lose motivation because of the instructors lack of
mastery of English or the large quantity of content through CLIL courses in comparison with the traditional
English language courses.
In terms of pedagogic implications, the findings of the study point to the existing need to focus more on
language aspects such as grammar and general vocabulary. It also seems that students want more reading and
writing to be developed as skills. There is also the need to implement more interactive and metalinguistic
activities with the aim to encourage the use of less frequent learner strategies like note taking, guessing from
context and to push students to use dictionaries as a last resource for comprehension in the hope of heightening
the students motivation and participation degrees.
Last but not least, the fact that the acquisition of disciplinary content through English has been
positively perceived and appreciated by students has contributed to their motivation. In this connection, a study
comparing the results (grades) of the same courses or parts of courses- that have been given in French and
English would be very interesting and such studies are still needed.

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