Over recent years the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Oviedo has gradually introduced bilingual study groups. This experience supposes an enormous challenge for the lecturers and students who face the difficulties associated with the process of teaching and learning in a second language. The challenge is twofold; on the one hand, the particular difficulties of the specific materials and content of the business and administration degree. On the other hand the need to possess and improve those linguistic abilities which will ensure a correct learning process.
In this context, lecturers should adopt an educational approach which uses methodologies that permit dual attention to contents and language. Following Do Coyle and David Marsh the way is to integrate content with language in order to foment the overall learning process (Coyle, et al., 2010). This focus, endorsed by the European Union and known as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated learning), implies that attention should not only be paid to the particular content but also to the specific aspects of the language necessary for learning and communicating the knowledge acquired .
Working in a second language gives rise to multiple communication difficulties, and above all in the context of the technical and academic use of the language. Moreover, the mere fact that learning in a second language, demands a command of the language which guarantees sufficient linguistic skills in order to sustain the necessary cognitive processes for teaching and learning. In these types of situations, the second language is a vehicular instrument for the specific knowledge of the subject and of the related basic terminology but is also the instrument for the effective communication of this knowledge and of the mental processes necessary for learning.
Teaching contents in a second language is not easy and lecturers have to control the discourse used in the classroom and support students in the learning of the subject as well as in the results of the specific academic discourse of the former. Accordingly, the lecturers have to create the necessary opportunities for interaction and communication in order that the apprentices use the knowledge learnt in a way which allows them to perform an adequate discourse in that second language. This entails designing active learning experiences, of a significant and conversational nature, in which the communication in the classroom between students and the teacher constitutes the learning center.
In 2010, Coyle, Hood and Marsh wrote a well-known book named “CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning” published by Cambridge University Press, where they cover some principles about this pedagogical approach. CLIL was adopted in1994 in the European context to describe and further design good practices where teaching and learning take place in an additional language. In this book the authors “investigates the theories and practices of CLIL pedagogies in an in-depth way, whilst raising ‘big’ question- and at times awkward and difficult ones-for key stakeholders.”(Pg. ix)
Coyle, D., Hood, P. & Marsh, D. (2010): Content and Language integrated Learning, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.