Writing on history in a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) context: Development of grammatical metaphor as evidence of language learning

Rachel Whittaker, Anne McCabe.

In: Machón, R.M. (Ed.) Writing and Language Learning: Advancing Research Agendas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Year of publication: 2020

In this chapter we attempt to answer Manchón and Williams’ (2016, p. 580) question as to “how language and writing develop in content-based instruction and CLIL programs” as a key concern in the study of writing as a site for language learning. Our longitudinal study from a CLIL context traces students’ development in writing in English by analyzing a key feature of disciplinary literacy, grammatical metaphor (GM), created through nominalizations and abstract nouns. Data for this study consists of 64 texts by the same 16 students, on a topic from the history syllabus, collected yearly over the four years of obligatory secondary education. In the data we identified and analyzed just under 1,500 instances of GM. Results showed a significantly higher use and greater accuracy of GM in second cycle texts. Given the role of writing in learning subject discourses, the chapter closes by reflecting on the implications of these findings for practice and for research directions for writing in CLIL contexts.