Receptive Vocabulary of CLIL and Non-CLIL Primary and Secondary School Learners

  1. Andrés Canga Alonso 1
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España


Complutense Journal of English Studies

ISSN: 2386-3935

Year of publication: 2015

Issue: 23

Pages: 59-77

Type: Article

DOI: 10.5209/REV_CJES.2015.V23.51301 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor

More publications in: Complutense Journal of English Studies


Cited by

  • Dialnet Metrics Cited by: 7 (24-02-2023)
  • Web of Science Cited by: 13 (09-03-2023)


  • Social Sciences: C
  • Human Sciences: B


CLIL instruction has been reported to be beneficial for foreign language vocabulary learning since CLIL students show higher vocabulary profiles than students of their same age in traditional EFL contexts. However, to our knowledge, the receptive vocabulary knowledge of CLIL and non-CLIL learners at the end of primary and secondary education has not been examined yet. Hence, this study aims at comparing the receptive vocabulary size 79 CLIL primary learners with the receptive vocabulary knowledge of 331 non-CLIL learners at the end of primary and secondary school. Sex-based differences were also analysed. The 2k Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) was used for the purposes of the study. Results revealed that learners� receptive vocabulary sizes lie within the most frequent 1000 words, non-CLIL secondary school students throw better results than primary students but the differences between the secondary group and the CLIL group are not statistically significant. As for sex-based differences, we found no significant differences among the groups. These findings led us to believe that the CLIL approach offers a benefit for vocabulary acquisition since CLIL learners have been exposed to the foreign language for a shorter period of time and the results are quite similar to their non-CLIL secondary school partners.

Bibliographic References

  • Adolphs, Svenja and Norbert Schmitt (2004). Vocabulary coverage according to spoken discourse context. In Paul Bogaards and Batia Laufer, eds., 39-52.
  • Agustín Llach, M.ª Pilar and Melania Terrazas Gallego (2012). Vocabulary knowledge development and gender differences in a second language. ELIA 12: 45-75. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Arnaud, Pierre J. and Henri Béjoint, eds. (1999). Vocabulary and Applied Linguistics. London: Macmillan.
  • Barrow, Jack; Y. Nakanishi and H. Ishino (1999). Assessing Japanese college students’ vocabulary knowledge with a self-checking familiarity survey. System 27.2: 223-247.
  • Bartning, Inge; Maisa Martin and Ineke Vedder, eds. (2010). Communicative Proficiency and Linguistic Development: Intersections between SLA and Language Testing Research. Eurosla Monograph 1.
  • Beglar, David and Alan Hunt (1999). Revising and validating the 2000 word level and University word level vocabulary tests. Language Testing 16: 131-162.
  • Bogaards, Paul and Batia Laufer, eds. (2004). Vocabulary in a Second Language. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE 27/07/2007). Orden ECI/2220/2007 por la que se establece el currículo y se regula la ordenación de la Educación Secundaria Obligatoria. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE 01/03/2014). Real Decreto 126/2014, de 28 de febrero, por el que se establece el currículo básico de la Educación Primaria. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Boyle, Joseph P. (1987). Sex differences in listening vocabulary. Language Learning 37.2: 273-284.
  • Bulté, Bram; Alex Housen; Michel Pierrard and Siske Van Daele (2008). Investigating lexical proficiency development over time – the case of Dutch-speaking learners of French in Brussels. French Language Studies 18.3: 277-298.
  • Canga Alonso, Andrés (2013a). Receptive vocabulary size of secondary Spanish EFL learners. Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas 8: 67-75.
  • Canga Alonso, Andrés (2013b). The Receptive Vocabulary of Spanish 6th Grade Primary School Students in CLIL instruction: A Preliminary study. Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning (LACLIL) 6.2: 22-41.
  • Celaya, M.ª Luz and Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe (2010). First languages and age in CLIL and non-CLIL contexts. International CLIL Research Journal 1.3. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Cobb, Tom and Marlise Horst (2004). Vocabulary sizes of some City University students. City University (HK) Journal of Language Studies 1: 59-68.
  • Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Coyle, Do; Philip Hood and David Marsh (2010). CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cummins, James (1979). Cognitive/academic Language Proficiency, linguistic interdependence, the optimum age question and some other matters. Working Papers on Bilingualism 19: 121-129.
  • Cummins, James (2008). BICS and CALP: Empirical and theoretical status of the distinction. In Brian V. Street and Nancy H. Hornberger, eds., 71-83.
  • Dafouz, Emma and Michael C. Guerini, eds. (2009). CLIL Across Educational Levels. Madrid: Richmond.
  • Daller, Helmut; Roeland Van Hout and Jeanine Treffers-Daller (2003). Lexical richness in the spontaneous speech of bilinguals. Applied Linguistics 24.2: 197-222.
  • Dalton-Puffer, Christiane (2007). Discourse in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Dalton-Puffer, Christiane (2008). Outcomes and processes in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Current research from Europe. In Werner Delanoy and Laurenz Volkmann, eds., 139-157.
  • Delanoy, Werner and Laurenz Volkmann, eds. (2008). Future Perspectives for English Language Teaching. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.
  • Edelenbos, Peter and Maria P. Vinjé (2000). The assessment of a foreign language at the end of primary (elementary) education. Language Testing 17.2: 144-162.
  • Fan, May (2000). How big is the gap and how to narrow it? An investigation into the active and passive vocabulary knowledge of L2 learners. RELC Journal 31: 105-119.
  • Golberg, Heather; Johanne Paradis and Martha Crago (2008). Lexical acquisition over time in minority first language children learning English as a second language. Applied Psycholinguistics 29: 41-65.
  • Hirsh, David and Paul Nation (1992). What vocabulary size is needed to read unsimplified texts for pleasure? Reading in a Foreign Language 8: 689-696.
  • Horst, Marlise; Tom Cobb and Paul Meara (1998). Beyond a clockwork orange: acquiring second language vocabulary through reading. Reading in a Foreign Language 11.2: 207-223.
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª, ed. (2010). Gender Perspectives on Vocabulary in Foreign and Second Language. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª and Julieta Ojeda Alba (2009). Girls’ and boys’ lexical availability in EFL. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 158: 57-76.
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª and Melania Terrazas Gallego (2008). The receptive vocabulary of English foreign language young learners. Journal of English Studies 5: 173-191.
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª and Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe, eds. (2009). Content and Language Integrated Learning. Evidence from Research in Europe. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª; Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe and Jasone Cenoz (2006). Vocabulary profiles in English as a subject and as a vehicular language. VIEWZ 15.3: 23-27. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Jiménez Catalán, Rosa M.ª and Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe (2009). The receptive vocabulary of EFL learners in two instructional contexts: CLIL versus non-CLIL. In Rosa M.ª Jiménez Catalán and Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe, eds., 81-92.
  • Kucera, Henry and Winthrop Nelson Francis (1967). A Computational Analysis of Present Day American English. Providence: Brown University Press.
  • Laufer, Batia (1992). How much lexis is necessary for reading comprehension. In Pierre J. Arnaud and Henri Béjoint, eds., 126-132.
  • Laufer, Batia and Paul Nation (1995). Vocabulary size and use: Lexical richness in L2 written production. Applied Linguistics 16.3: 307-322.
  • Laufer, Batia and Paul Nation (1999). A vocabulary-size test of controlled productive ability. Language Testing 16.1: 33-51.
  • López-Mezquita Molina, M.ª Teresa (2005). La Evaluación de la Competencia Léxica: Tests de Vocabulario. Su Fiabilidad y Validez. Ph.D. diss., Universidad de Granada.
  • Lynn, Richard; David M. Fergusson and L. John Horwood (2005). Sex differences on the WISC-R in New Zealand. Personality and Individual Differences 39: 103-114.
  • Meara, Paul and Barbara Buxton (1987). An alternative to multiple choice vocabulary testing. Language Testing 4.2: 142-154.
  • Meara, Paul and G. Jones (1990). Eurocentres Vocabulary Size Tests 10KA. Zurich: Eurocentres Learning Service.
  • Meara, Paul and James Milton (2003). X_Lex, the Swansea Levels Test. Newbury: Express.
  • Meara, Paul and Huw Bell (2001). P_Lex: A simple and effective way of describing the lexical characteristics of short L2 texts. Prospect 16.3: 323-337.
  • Meara, Paul and Tess Fitzpatrick (2000). Lex 30: An improved method of assessing productive vocabulary in an L2. System 28: 19-30.
  • Mehisto, Peter; David Marsh and M.ª Jesús Frigols (2008). Uncovering CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning in bilingual and multilingual contexts. Oxford: Macmillan.
  • Milton, James (2009). Measuring Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  • Milton, James (2010): The development of vocabulary breadth across the CEFR levels. A common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, and textbooks across Europe. In Inge Bartning, Maisa Martin and Ineke Vedder, eds., 211-232. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Morris, Lori and Tom Cobb (2004). Vocabulary profiles as predictors of the academic performance of teaching English as a second language trainees. System 32.1: 75-87.
  • Muñoz, Carmen (2007). CLIL. Some thoughts on its psychological principles. RESLA volumen monográfico: 11-17.
  • Nation, Paul (1990). Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. New York: Newbury.
  • Nation, Paul (1993). Using dictionaries to estimate vocabulary size: Essential, but rarely followed, procedures. Language Testing 10: 27-40.
  • Nation, Paul (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nation, Paul (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review / La revue canadienne des langues vivantes 63: 59-81.
  • Nation, Paul and Robert Waring (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. In Norbert Schmitt and Michael McCarthy, eds., 6-19.
  • Nurweni, Ari and John Read (1999). The English vocabulary knowledge of Indonesian university students. English for Specific Purposes 18.2: 161-175.
  • Nyikos, Martha (1990). Sex-related differences in adult language learning: Socialization and memory factors. Modern Language Journal 74: 273-287.
  • Pérez-Vidal, Carmen (2009). The integration of content and language in the classroom: A European approach to education (the second time around). In Emma Dafouz and Michael C. Guerini, eds., 3-16.
  • Read, John (2000). Assessing Vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ruiz de Zarobe, Yolanda (2011). Which language competencies benefit from CLIL? An insight into applied linguistics research. In Yolanda Ruiz de Zarobe, José Manuel Sierra and Francisco Gallardo del Puerto, eds., 123-153.
  • Ruiz de Zarobe, Yolanda; José Manuel Sierra and Francisco Gallardo del Puerto, eds. (2011). Content and Foreign Language Integrated Learning. Bern: Peter Lang.
  • Scarcella, Robin and Cheryl Zimmerman (1998). Academic Words and Gender. ESL Student Performance on a Test of Academic Lexicon. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 20: 27-49.
  • Schmitt, Norbert (1998). Tracking the incremental acquisition of second language vocabulary: A longitudinal study. Language Learning 48: 281-317.
  • Schmitt, Norbert (2000). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schmitt, Norbert and Michael McCarthy, eds. (1997). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schmitt, Norbert, Diane Schmitt and Caroline Clapham (2001). Developing and exploring the behaviour of two new versions of the Vocabulary Level Test. Language Testing 18: 55-88.
  • Street, Brian V. and Nancy H. Hornberger, eds. (2008). Encyclopaedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 2. New York: Springer Science + Business Media LLC.
  • Sunderland, Jane (2010). Theorizing gender perspectives in foreign and second language learning. In R. M. Jiménez Catalán, ed., 1-22.
  • Thorndike, Edward and Irvine Lorge (1944). The Teacher’s Word Book of 30,000 Words. New York Teachers College: Columbia University.
  • Vermeer, Anne (2001). Breadth and depth of vocabulary in relation to L1/L2 acquisition and frequency of input. Applied Psycholinguistics 22: 217-34.
  • Waring, Robert (1997). A comparison of the receptive and productive vocabulary sizes of some second language learners. Immaculata (Notre Dame Seishin University, Okayama) 1: 53-68.
  • Webb, Stuart (2008). Receptive and productive vocabulary sizes of L2 learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 30.1: 79-95.
  • Webb, Stuart and Michael P. H. Rodgers (2009a). The vocabulary demands of television programmes. Language Learning 59.2: 335-366.
  • Webb, Stuart and Anna C-S Chang (2012). Second language vocabulary growth. RELC Journal 43.1: 113-126.
  • Webb, Stuart and Michael P. H. Rodgers (2009b). The lexical coverage of movies. Applied Linguistics 30.3: 407-427.
  • West, Michael (1953). A General Service List of English Words. London: Longman.
  • Xanthou, Maria (2011). Current trends in L2 vocabulary learning and instruction. Is CLIL the right approach? Advances in research on language acquisition and teaching: Selected Papers: 459-471. (Accessed November 6 2015).
  • Zhang, Xian and Xiaofei Lu (2013). A longitudinal study of receptive vocabulary breadth knowledge growth and vocabulary fluency development. Applied Linguistics 1-23. (Accessed November 6 2015).