Suggestions for using the foreign language as a medium of instruction have been an issue at the forefront of discussions in the field of foreign language education in Europe as far back as the early 1990’s – see for example work by the Council of Europe and the European Commission. In Italy (as well as in most other European countries) most programmes of a similar nature that existed up to that time concerned using a second language as a medium of instruction (in Italy French in the Valle d’Aosta and Italian and German in the Ladin schools of the Province of Bolzano). The switch of attention to a foreign language situation has brought with it not only new models for foreign language medium teaching and learning but also it has brought to the fore different kinds of issues concerning teaching and learning. In this paper we focus our attention on the language issue. The decision to focus on the language dimension as opposed to the other important dimension highlighted by the acronym (that of content) is the result of the realisation, through contact with schools and teachers in various parts of the country as well as with experts abroad, that language has an important impact on both the teaching and on the learning process and outcomes. The focus will be on the quality and quantity of pupil oral production in CLIL lessons and the influence that the teaching styles and methodology adopted has upon this. The research represents only one part of a two-year project on the issue of language – oral language – and the promotion of oral language productive competence in CLIL situations.
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