Saturday, 5 June 2010

Analysis of performance between 3 CLIL groups: should CLIL students be selected?

UPDATED: 11 Jun 2010 - carry on reading, please.

This year, I was assigned to three secondary schools. As luck would have it, each of them had a different method of choosing their CLIL group of students, so I thought it would be interesting to do a study on their performance. Since my services were terminated with at the end of May, I can only compare the figures obtained from the first and second evaluation. I analysed the students' performance in the CLIL subjects, which varied from school to school, and in the non-CLIL subjects.

I studied the rise or fall in the number of failures from the first to the second evaluation, and calculated the average number of passes for each group (three groups from each school were analysed).

Finally, I compared the average performance between the CLIL groups of the three different schools.

School X

School X has remained steadfast in refusing me permission to use its data, insisting that I have no right to use it, even if I were not to use the name of the school.

So, I must apologise to all of you who have expressed interest in this study, but I have no choice but to remove its part. It does undermine the study somewhat, but, I think something still can be learned from it.

Method of selection: Each potential student, prior to enrolment, was given a note telling them to present themselves for an examination if they were interested in joining the CLIL program.

It is worth noting, however, that generally, the attendance for this examination is not very encouraging, and all the students who do it are almost guaranteed a place in the CLIL class even though they might have scored very poorly. The fact that there is a wide gap between the handing of the note and the examination (a whole summer) may account for the poor attendance.

IES Alonso Quesada

Method of selection: Students were selected based on their results in the CLIL subjects in their final year in primary school. Even though there was objection from teachers not involved in the CLIL project, the backing of the school management team allowed the possibility of this selection method.

IES Los Tarahales

Method of selection: Heavy objection from non-CLIL teachers prevented any method of selection from being implemented, other than that the CLIL class had to be chosen AT RANDOM.


It came as no surprise that the best performance, by a significant margin, came from Alonso Quesada, given their method of the process of selection. It is worth studying, however, the rate of progress of the CLIL groups in comparison to their non-CLIL peers. From first-hand experience with the various classes and the students, I have found that there is a certain level of motivation present in the CLIL classes, and that it rubs off on especially the weaker students.

These very students would very likely sink rapidly if they were placed in a less motivated class. The stronger students would, most likely, succeed in any group, but it is useful to ponder on the varying possibilities of the borderline students.

Another thought provoking strategy would be to provide all classes with similar resources and possibilities. Certainly, I have seen positive results from my time spent with non-CLIL classes in Los Tarahales and School X, especially at the entrance level.

Whether the Canaries would one day begin to have at least one CLIL subject in all classes remains to be seen.

What do you think? Would you like to see this happen? Do you have CLIL in your school? How does it work? Do you think it is better to have more CLIL time per school or more schools in the project, but with less CLIL time in each?

Your opinions would be most appreciated. Click on 'comments' below, if you don't see the form for sending in comments.

Please note: if you would like a copy of this PowerPoint, email me.


  1. Hi Chiew,
    thanks a lot for your kind invitation.
    I have always thought this was something we had to do sooner or later: sit down and analyse certain parameters to see how does CLIL affect selected and not-selected students. The use of European Language Portfolio should give us (with a little bit of time) an across-school vision of how it was going.
    Would you agree that the mark in the different subjects alone would only give us a partial picture of it? We would miss parameter such us student improvement (even if they are below standards), motivation, communicative competence... and even happiness (this last one is the one I have enjoyed the most).
    Quite an interesting issue. Thank you again.

  2. A Clil To Climb6 June 2010 at 11:59

    Thanks for your comment, Sergio. Of course, what I've presented here is just an inkling of what could be done. I did mention the possible presence of motivation in the CLIL groups, and the positive feedback (= happiness) from the non-CLIL groups I work with.
    What also need to be looked at is the reaction of those <span>not</span> in the CLIL group. To prevent feelings of segregation, envy, animosity, etc., I, for one, am much in favour of all classes to have at least one CLIL session, or at least the possibility of having the linguistic assistant present in their class, which, of course, could be revoked upon bad behaviour. >:o  

  3. Hi Chiew,

    It is an intersting topic . I work in two CLIL primary schools and there is no selection.All children in all groups do an hour of CLIL a week. Should there be selection? Well, I'd like to see it in the bigger school I work in as the classes are so big and the CLIL is very hard going!!! In the other school it seems to work ok but we only have the younger ones at the mo. We have no evaluation really so it's really hard to judge what's happening. I would be as bold as to say more cash for assistants in schools whch helps everyones linguistic competence and then CLIL!

  4. A Clil To Climb7 June 2010 at 22:16

    Thanks for your comment, Leahn. It is indeed very difficult in big classes, especially when discipline is lacking! ;)   Do your schools ever split the classes where you take half and the other teacher takes the other half? Of course, that depends on your knowledge in the CLIL subject and whether there is a classroom to put the other half in!  :-P
    It all boils down to more money for the schools!  :-$

  5. <span><span>Hopefully, one day there will be no selection at all! All students would benefit from learning another language.
    But for the time being, some kind of selection is needed, I'm afraid. The evidence you show, Chiew, is quite revealing. I wonder what other schools have to say about it.</span></span>

  6. A Clil To Climb9 June 2010 at 10:47

    Thanks for the comment, Eu.  :)

    What do other schools have to say? Well, La Minilla has told me to remove all their data.  >:o
    They said I had no right to publish it.
    However, on the contrary, initial reaction from Los Tarahales and Alonso Quesada has been very encouraging indeed, and I'm awaiting confirmation from them that I can use their data before flushing weeks of hard unpaid work down the drain.  :'(
    Fret now, I WILL <span><span>remove La Minilla's part, which is a shame really. Even if I could just use their data without their name, it wouldn't have made much difference, but they have steadfastly refused.</span></span> =-O

  7. A Clil To Climb9 June 2010 at 13:34

    I'm so pleased to say that both Alonso Quesada and Los Tarahales have confirmed that they see no harm at all with my use of the data, and besides, have expressed their gratitude for the study. :-D

  8. <span>¿En qué estás pensando...? </span>
    <span>Hi Chiew (y compaña),</span>
    it is indeed a touchy issue! I remember, a couple of years ago, we had a conference by Peeter Mehisto here in Las Palmas for head of schools and head of studies. We could say it was THE issue for them. And not very many solutions were put forward (taking experience in Europe as an example). Choosing students at random was not considered appropriate either. And almost all of them demanded parents agreeing (which is some kind of passive selection). There were some ideas to help the schools prevent the Two-Schools-in-one side kick, and some ideas on the "ideal" CLIL student but not a solutions to selection.
    School-wide implementing... hard to achieve at the moment, don't you think?

  9. Your name (required)9 June 2010 at 21:20

    Of course, it's hard to achieve, but that would be the ideal situation. I suppose the agreement of parents part has been implemented in all schools, but what do you do in the case of Los Tarahales where the non-CLIL teachers dug their heels in and said, 'At random or we won't agree to any CLIL project!' Or in the case of Alonso Quesada where students are selected, but other teachers complain, unjustifiably, that they're getting the 'worst' students.
    Significantly, the CLIL students in Los Tarahales have improved greatly, and even more significantly, almost of them, in my end-of-year survey, said they LIKED being on the project!

  10. <span>¿En qué estás pensando...?</span>
    I would say, another key point is that normally teachers involved in the CLIL ... (don't like the word project myself, though haven't still made up my mind on what would be the best word to use)... thing, are highly motivated teachers, and that makes a difference: motivated teachers normally bring about motivated students, don't they?
    I've also seen students from groups who have not been selected, and they also like the project (to a high extent). And they also got to do better than the rest of the groups at the same level.

  11. Susan Hillyard10 June 2010 at 02:44

    <span>Am interested in your study and wonder if you would like to submit a paper to the LACLIL Journal?</span>
    <span>See </span>

    Please follow the guidelines in the ABOUT top tab.
    Would like to have your input.
    Susan Hillyard

  12. Your name (required)10 June 2010 at 09:27

    Yes, I agree, Sergio. Most of the CLIL teachers, with a few exceptions, are highly motivated and spend many extra hours preparing material. I am not sure how the new changes will affect them. It's a bit worrying. Motivation is a key to success.
    I also agree with 'project'. It makes it sound 'short term', doesn't it?  *DONT_KNOW*
    How about plain 'CLIL teaching'?

  13. Your name (required)10 June 2010 at 09:41

    Thanks for the invitation, Susan. I'll look into it. And also, it would only make sense if I could get all 3 schools to agree to my use of their data.  *DONT_KNOW*

  14. Oh, another thing I forgot to mention, Sergio. In my very humble opinion, dare I say it...
    it's far better to have 10 schools with all classes (at least the 1º ESO) participating in CLIL lessons than have 100 schools participating in the project (here, it will be better known as project), and having some classes doing some CLIL things some of the time...
    What's your opinion?

  15. <span>¿En qué estás pensando...?</span>
    Uhm, have mixed feelings, to tell you the truth. If we only had a few schools within the CLIL project things would be much more straight forward. But maybe it would mean too many people left out (not talking about teachers now, though we could). The nice thing about CLIL is precisely that anybody can be part of it. Maybe I would slow the pace, but I do think spreading CLIL is good.

  16. It's never easy to achieve greatness. It is true that every school ought to get a chance, but it should also be true that, like so many things in life, it's first come, first served.
    In any case, with the new changes coming into effect, I don't see many schools will have the opportunity of attracting teachers with B2. Maybe I'm wrong.
    Sure, spreading CLIL is wonderful, but at the same time, I'm a firm believer of quality is preferable over quantity. What I'd hate to see is if the whole process breaks down because quality hasn't been maintained.


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