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Assessment of the Application of Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Multilingual Classroom

Institute of Humanities, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, 195251 Saint Petersburg, Russia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 808;
Submission received: 15 September 2021 / Revised: 5 December 2021 / Accepted: 10 December 2021 / Published: 14 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education)


(1) Background: based on the constantly increasing requirements for modern university graduates, we have developed an educational model that allows us to introduce content and language integrated learning into classes with a multilingual approach, which will allow students to use several foreign languages in the process of professional communication. The purpose of the paper is to evaluate the efficiency of a newly introduced integrated learning model from the perspective of students, to identify the impact of such a model on students’ professional discipline learning outcomes and to determine if the learning model contributes to an improvement in foreign language proficiency. (2) Methods: for our research we used qualitative and quantitative data from students’ records of professional discipline and Spanish testing, as well as surveys and interviews on proposed learning model efficiency. Two groups of students took part in the experiment (N = 23 and N = 24). (3) Results: results on students’ Spanish proficiency showed that the proposed learning model had a positive influence. Students from the experimental group got higher results on Listening, Reading and Speaking. According to results on professional discipline, both groups achieved approximately equal scores. Moreover, students described such a proposed learning model as efficient and progressive, giving a lot of advantages. (4) Conclusions: the experiment conducted confirmed the efficiency of the proposed learning model. In conclusion, it can be recommended for the realization of a multilingual approach, as well as the learning of a professional discipline.

1. Introduction

1.1. Background

Despite significant investments in foreign language teaching, student competencies continue to fall short of expected levels (students’ foreign language proficiency in Russia is worse than in Europe) [1]. With an obvious decrease in the problems associated with the availability of learning a foreign language within educational institutions, the effectiveness of language education is still unsatisfactory. Despite the fact that there are a lot of learning hours dedicated to learning a foreign language at university, the level of proficiency is still not satisfactory. Currently, it is necessary to take a fresh look at the quality of teaching foreign languages. The implementation of changes in modern higher education in the context of a modernizing society presupposes the need to implement not only a competence-based approach, but also the introduction of interdisciplinarity and meta-discipline in the learning process at a higher educational institution [1]. To achieve interdisciplinarity in education, a contemporary approach is used: content and language integrated learning. This approach allows the study of two subjects within the same discipline, namely, professional and linguistic, which forms both linguistic competencies and professional competencies [2,3]. Content and language integrated learning is already used in a number of educational institutions in Europe [4], but most teachers and methodologists in Russia still do not fully understand the mechanism of this approach and its implementation in the curricula of schools and non-linguistic universities. This is due to the low level of foreign language competence among engineering professors in Russia. In the Russian education system, the method of integrating foreign languages into the general outline of the educational process is practically not used. Undoubtedly, the development of language competence in the universities of the Russian Federation could move to a qualitatively new level if this approach was thoroughly studied and the mechanisms of its implementation in the learning process were mastered.
However, the development of the educational system focuses not only on interdisciplinarity. One of the modern requirements for future specialists is a knowledge of several languages [5,6]. Thus, future university graduates will have to be multilingual. Such a requirement imposes a great burden on students, and also requires from the educational system innovative educational models that allow students to learn several foreign languages, as well as to be able to use these languages in the field of professional communication.
Thus, we have developed an educational model that allows us to introduce content and language integrated learning into classes with a multilingual approach, which will allow students to use several foreign languages in the process of professional communication.
To test our proposed educational model, we conducted an experiment among students of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. The experiment was attended by 3rd year students of the international educational program “International Business”. The choice is due to the following facts:
  • the groups consist of students of different nationalities,
  • teaching takes place in English (not native for students and the teacher),
  • the curriculum includes the discipline “Spanish”, which is studied in English, and is suitable for the use of content and language integrated learning and a multilingual approach. The point was to learn Spanish. English was the teaching language, as the students came from different linguistic backgrounds – their L1s were different, teaching was on their L2s, and they were learning an L3.
The objective of the research is to assess the application of the developed educational model, which includes content and language integrated learning and a multilingual approach.

1.2. Literature Review

1.2.1. Content and Language Integrated Learning and Its Forms

In many countries (including Russia), universities are adapting their educational programs in accordance with the growing demand for specialists with high knowledge of the English language by developing and applying in practice various bilingual educational programs. One of the most visible and most common approaches to these programs is Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) [7]. There has been a large body of research on the efficacy of CLIL classes in terms of their impact on learners’ language and subject knowledge [8].
CLIL is an approach that involves studying the content of a non-linguistic subject (e.g., history or geography) taught in a foreign language, and therefore learning that foreign language by studying the content of that subject [7,9]. According to the European Commission, CLIL “seeks to develop knowledge in both a non-linguistic subject and the language in which it is taught, giving the same meaning to each of them” [10] (p. 7). This means that a distinctive feature of this approach is the setting of a double goal, namely, improving the level of competency in a foreign language as well as knowledge in a non-linguistic discipline.
Many CLIL studies have found beneficial effects on English proficiency [4,5,8,11,12,13,14,15,16,17]. However, they should be interpreted with caution, as most CLIL studies do not sufficiently control selection effects and pre-existing differences between CLIL students and other students [18].
There is a rather contradictory picture of the efficacy of bilingual education in the development of subject knowledge. While some studies found no difference in knowledge of content and subject matter [19,20], others found benefits for bilingual students [21,22,23] or for monolingual students [24,25,26,27].
Piesche et al. [28] studied the influence of a bilingual and monolingual approach on the assimilation of the content of a professional discipline. The results of this study showed that monolingual students were better than bilingual ones by about a fifth of the standard deviation. This was the first time that bilingual learners had taken part in bilingual education, and Piesche et al. [28] suggested that this was the main reason for their result. In turn, studies by Dallinger et al. [14,29] found no difference between CLIL and non-CLIL students, using a history course as an example. It is worth noting, however, that the bilingual course taught history for 3 h, not 2 h (monolingual course) per week. Dallinger et al. [30] also found positive effects from a more frequent use of English, as well as a more frequent use of a second foreign language to introduce new terms (to improve knowledge of the professional discipline), which supported the idea of the deliberate use of multiple languages.

1.2.2. Multilingualism

In this study, we define multilingualism at the individual level as a person’s ability to use two or more languages and “easily switch from one language to another” [31] (p. 158). From the point of view of multilingualism, languages are considered as separate language systems, and not dialects, styles or registers within one language system [32]. Teachers may not always be multilingual, as some native speaker teachers speak only one language, especially those who teach English [33]. In contrast, non-native speakers are always multilingual because they teach a language that is not their first language. Thus, they are equally proficient in several languages in the sense that they have advanced abilities in at least two languages (i.e., in their first language and the language they teach), which is not always the case with native teachers [33].
In teaching foreign languages, it has often been assumed that one teacher teaches only one foreign language, which was the norm in schools in most countries. It was relatively rare to find people teaching two or more foreign languages in Russia [34]. Research on foreign language teachers has also focused on the identity, beliefs and practices of those who teach primarily one foreign language, usually English [33,34]. Recently, researchers have begun to pay increasing attention to the benefits of introducing teaching methods in language classrooms that use multilingualism as a resource, that is, multilingual teaching methods (MTP) [35,36,37,38].
The growing level of superdiversity [39] has prompted some countries to change their language teaching programs in schools and universities to promote multilingualism among the younger generation and prepare them to succeed in a globalized world in which multilingualism is considered an asset [30,40]. As part of these changes, there have also been attempts at the political level [41] to encourage teachers to implement MTP.
Multilingual teaching is an educational approach that teachers can use to raise their students’ awareness and understanding of linguistic diversity and encourage them to use their knowledge of other languages and language experience when learning a new language [33,35,42]. Through this type of learning, teachers increase the motivation of students by helping them realize that they are not entirely novices, and that they already have a set of tools that they can use to learn new languages more effectively. MTPs have also been shown to improve student literacy and pragmatic knowledge, as well as overall language performance [43,44,45]. Examples of MTPs include translation, awakening to language action, cross-language comparisons, multilingual storytellings and language diaries [23,46,47].
This study defines multilingualism in multilingual classrooms as the process in which multilingual teachers and students engage in complex, multiple discursive practices, including translation, to communicate in and navigate multilingual classrooms [35]. Multilingual practices can be used in a targeted and systematic way to overcome language boundaries and to improve and maintain the language skills and multilingual competence of learners [48]. In addition, this deliberate use of multilingualism enhances students’ ability to analyze and compare different language systems, which contributes to their learning [49]. According to García and Silvan [35] (p. 389), multilingualism is also “part of the discursive regimes that students must perform in the 21st century,” as it not only reflects the interactions of multilingual people in their daily lives, but also how an opportunity to develop their multilingual skills through translation allows students to improve their knowledge of each of their languages.
The available research on multilingualism offers educational institutions seeking to promote multilingual practices among students a limited opportunity, since the types of multilingualism studied cannot be offered to all students. Adopting the concept of multilingualism as a pedagogical resource enabling everyone to achieve multilingualism will more accurately reflect the profiles of all teachers and students in a language class. The number of studies that have used multilingualism as an educational approach is currently very limited [50]. It is also worth noting that many studies have used a small number of participants, which affects the generalizability of the results when the goal is to understand broader trends in teacher acceptance of the MTP language in a given context [34].
At the same time, research on multilingualism as a pedagogical resource is practically absent in some countries. One such country is Russia, where the government is just beginning to introduce multilingual educational practices through initiatives to learn several foreign languages in schools and universities [51,52]. In Europe, some countries also receive much less attention than others when it comes to research on pedagogical multilingualism. For example, research in Norway has focused on teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding multilingualism in schools [53], which provides only a partial indication of their use of MTP. What is interesting for our study is that in Norway, a new national curriculum for English entered into force in 2019, which promotes multilingualism in language teaching and learning [54]. The updated curriculum now emphasizes the relevance and value of multilingualism [54]. The learning outcomes of the new curriculum likewise highlight the development of an awareness of different languages and the use of the languages spoken by students to find similarities at different linguistic levels, from vocabulary and expressions to more complex language similarities and differences [54].
In addition, since multilingual users are expected to use different languages in different situations for different purposes, they may need to use all components of the communication competence; however, there is often an asymmetric development of these components, that is, they do not necessarily develop all competencies in each of these languages at the same level [55]. Consequently, the successful study of a foreign language presupposes the ability to correctly choose and use communication strategies from a linguistic repertoire [34]. Appropriate language learning strategies are tools that are believed to encourage learners to take responsibility for their own learning and lead to increased language proficiency and greater self-confidence [34].
Analysis of the literature showed that the use of subject language integrated learning for a multilingual group of students has not been studied enough. Several studies [56,57] are examining the use of CLIL in multilingual groups for the study of professional disciplines (e.g., business English) and English. However, no studies were found examining multilingual courses combining Spanish and English. Thus, the purpose of this study is to assess the efficiency of the content language integrated learning in a multilingual class.

2. Materials and Methods

Our research involved 3rd year undergraduate students (N = 47) studying the program “International business (international educational program)” at the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. To implement the experiment, the discipline “Spanish language”, which is taught in English, was used. Within the framework of this research, a multilingual approach to the study of the Spanish language and the basics of international business in Spanish was implemented in the context of content and language integrated learning, as content and language integrated learning involves dual goal-setting, namely the study of two disciplines within one subject.
The multilingual approach is supposed to use English and Spanish in teaching materials, given that these languages are not the native languages of the students. Thus, students used only languages foreign to them.
Figure 1 shows a model of teaching undergraduate students in the department of “International Business” in the discipline “Spanish language”, taught in English. The work on the presented model is suitable for students with a level of Spanish knowledge A2-B1 and a minimum level of English knowledge B2. The experiment lasted 1 semester (February 2021–June 2021). During the semester, students studied 5 topics. For each topic, work was carried out in a specific teaching method.
The first stage of the work consists in the independent work of students with new vocabulary on a certain topic. The new vocabulary is presented in the form of a dictionary with an English-Spanish translation. Students need to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary (e.g., vocabulary for such topics as places of employment, professions, office equipment, H.R., international trade, negotiations) and, if necessary, translate it into their native language before the classroom session (“flipped classroom”). The electronic educational platform Moodle is also used, where exercises for learning vocabulary are presented (for example, exercises based on matching a term in Spanish with a definition in English), as well as the opportunity to hear the pronunciation of words in both languages.
In a classroom lesson (2nd stage), students are offered various tasks (e.g., “Read the texts and complete the gaps with the words from the list” or “Choose the verb to complete the phrases”) to practice the previously studied vocabulary. During the lesson, students discuss all vocabulary, including professional terminology, in English (possibly using Spanish) that is incomprehensible to them during independent study (face-to-face classroom), making up definitions for basic economic terms on the topic. Also, during the class, the grammatical material proposed for study within the framework of the Spanish language discipline is discussed.
The basis of the 3rd stage is teamwork. Students are encouraged to independently study the theoretical material of professional content in Spanish. It is necessary to divide the group into 3–4 small subgroups of students, each of which studies the proposed section using theoretical material. Then, during the classroom session, students talk to other groups about the material they have learned in English, providing key phrases, concepts, and terms in Spanish. At the end of each block of theoretical material, questions for thought and analysis are presented (e.g., “Twenty years from now we will have seen a huge global market emerge for standardized consumer products. Do you agree with this statement? Justify your answer.”). The whole group is invited to collectively answer the questions posed (teamwork). The Moodle contains video and audio materials in Spanish with English subtitles on the topics studied, which make it possible to better understand the theoretical material.
The 4th and final stage consists of project work. Each topic of the manual ends with a final task (case study). Students are offered a task in the format of a case with questions (e.g., a case about the hiring policy applied by Lenovo). The assignment is presented as a text in Spanish describing a problematic situation in business. Questions are attached to the text to provide a solution to the problem. After studying the case, students prepare a presentation in Spanish, either in their teams or individually, about their proposed solution to the problem, answering questions in Spanish (project-based classroom).
According to this model, students studied all 5 topics during the semester.
In order to obtain a detailed analysis of the results of the experiment, preliminary testing of all 3rd year students (5 groups of 23–25 people) for knowledge of English, Spanish and the theoretical foundations of the discipline of International Business was carried out. The tests of Spanish and English proficiency consisted of 4 parts: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The tests were conducted partly through the online platform Moodle—being developed for the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Listening, Reading, Writing)—and partly via seminars (Speaking). The theoretical test was conducted through Moodle and consisted of 20 questions, presented in English.
Based on the most similar results in preliminary tests, we chose a section of the participants and created 2 groups. In one group, Spanish classes were held in a traditional form in English, without content and language integrated learning and a multilingual approach (N = 23). In the second group, classes were held according to our proposed educational model (N = 24). The native languages of the students of the experimental group were Chinese (7 students), Arabic (8 students), Urdu (2 students), French (2 students) and Kazakh (5 students). The native languages of the control group students were Chinese (5 students), Arabic (7 students), Urdu (4 students), French (1 student), Kazakh (5 students) and Azerbaijani (1 student).
At the end of the course, students from the two groups were re-tested in Spanish to determine the impact of the proposed educational model on the learning of Spanish.
The students in the experimental group also underwent testing on the theoretical foundations of International Business to determine the effectiveness of the use of the CLIL method in order to study a professional discipline along with the study of a foreign language. Testing in a professional discipline was carried out in English.
In addition, students from the experimental group completed a survey and a short interview, where they expressed their opinion about the course studied and the educational model applied.
This paper is based on the following research questions:
  • Is there a significant difference in the level of Spanish proficiency before and after the course?
  • Does the proposed educational model help to improve knowledge in the discipline of “International Business”?
  • Is the proposed learning model effective from the students’ perspective?
The hypothesis of the study is that the proposed educational model positively influences students’ Spanish proficiency and professional discipline knowledge.
To obtain the results we used both quantitative and qualitative data (Table 1).
For the analysis, descriptive statistics and pair-samples of students’ t-tests were conducted.

3. Results

3.1. Learning Results

3.1.1. Spanish Testing

Testing on Spanish proficiency was conducted twice: once before the course and once after it, for two groups (experimental and control). Before the experiment, we asked the groups of students to identify the level of their Spanish proficiency. The test included the assessment of 4 categories: listening, reading, writing and speaking. When the course finished, students were tested again.
In general, the overall quality of students’ Spanish knowledge in four categories improved (Figure 2 and Figure 3).
The t-value test allowed us to discover whether the difference between the pre-test and post-test was significant in both groups, and thus whether it was possible to make a conclusion on the positive, neutral or negative effect of the proposed educational model.
A comparison of the results of the two tests (before and after the course) taken by the participants (experimental group) in the experiment indicates that the improvements in listening, reading and speaking were significant at the p < 0.001 level. In the writing category, students in the experimental group showed fewer progressive achievements, but due to Student’s t-test they were also significant at the p < 0.05 level (Table 2). This difference in the development of writing skills is explained by the fact that in the CLIL group, more attention was paid to the development of communicative oral skills and group interaction. In the traditional teaching model, more emphasis was placed on writing. Taking into account the results of control group, here students showed fewer progressive achievements in reading. Generally, however, both groups indicated a high level of improvement. Hence, we can firstly confirm the efficiency of such an integrated learning model for the purposes of learning Spanish.

3.1.2. Professional Discipline Testing

Assessment in the professional discipline (the International Business course) took the form of final testing that consisted of 25 closed questions in English (e.g., “What is the absolute advantage theory?” or “According to the theory of comparative advantage, how does opening a country to free trade affect its economic growth?”). This test was only done at the end of the course for both groups. The test was performed through Moodle with learners in both groups (experimental and control groups). The average test results are presented below (Table 3).
According to the results of the professional discipline testing, both groups achieved approximately equal scores. Control group students passed the test better, but the difference in the results is not significant, so we can confirm a neutral effect on professional discipline outcomes (the proposed educational model has the same efficiency as a traditional one). Thus, it can be concluded that the proposed learning model can be used for professional discipline learning purposes as well.

3.1.3. Efficiency of the Learning Model from Students’ Perspective

The survey on the efficiency of the learning model consisted of 5 statements and was given to the experimental group of students. In this part, the students were asked to rate statements according to the following scale: 1-strongly disagree, 2-disagree, 3-unsure, 4-agree and 5-strongly agree. The results are shown in Table 4.
Results of the survey showed that students perceived the proposed learning model as effective and more productive in comparison to traditional learning models. What is more, from their perspective it helps to develop multilingual competency and give more advantages rather than disadvantages to their academic achievements.
In addition, students from the experimental group were asked to participate in interviews. 11 people agreed to the interview and the subsequent processing of this data. Among these were students with different academic performance. For a reasonable assessment, 8 students were selected from the volunteers:
  • Two students with high scores on the results of two tests (professional discipline and Spanish),
  • Two students with a high score in Spanish and a low score in professional discipline,
  • Two students with high scores in professional discipline and a low score in Spanish,
  • Two students with low scores on two tests (professional discipline and Spanish).
This choice of students is justified by the need to get feedback from an equal number of students with each level of academic performance. Each student was asked to answer five questions related to their assessment of learning according to the proposed model:
  • Give a brief assessment of the course passed;
  • Highlight the advantages of learning according to the proposed model;
  • Highlight the shortcomings of training according to the proposed model;
  • Do you consider it expedient to introduce the discipline “international business” into Spanish classes?
  • Do you find the use of several languages in the learning process useful?
It should be noted that students with poor academic performance gave more negative feedback than students who excelled. Since students with poor results are used to looking for a cause among external factors, they pointed out the shortcomings of the educational model. However, special attention should be paid to the reasons for this attitude among students. All students noted that it became much more difficult to study according to the new model. This is due to several factors:
  • An unusual shape: over the past 2 years of studying the discipline “Spanish”, students have become accustomed to the traditional form.
  • For the successful completion of the discipline, professional knowledge is required, which not all students have in the same amount.
  • Working in a new format requires a good knowledge of the Spanish language. Students experienced difficulty using the Spanish language.
As a result, five out of eight students expressed satisfaction with the passed course. Two students remained indifferent. One student spoke negatively: “The idea of studying international business in Spanish without knowing Spanish is a bad idea.”
Among the advantages of the educational model, students noted:
  • Interesting form of presentation of material, including various forms of activity and work (“working with case studies was the most interesting part, classes became much more interesting”);
  • Open recognition of the importance of using the mother tongue on an equal footing with English for learning a second foreign language (“reliance on the native language greatly simplified the study L3”);
  • Study of professional vocabulary in Spanish (“we were able to learn really useful Spanish”);
  • Obtaining skills in the use of Spanish in business communication (“it was useful to learn how to apply Spanish in future professional activities and negotiations”);
  • Significant progress in the development of speaking skills (“this semester a lot of attention was paid to the spoken aspect, which is usually very lacking”);
  • Increasing motivation to learn due to the lack of monotony in the educational process (“tasks were interesting, which motivated to complete them all”).
The disadvantages were also noted:
  • Unnecessary complexity (“too difficult, no one knows why”);
  • Insufficient knowledge of Spanish to implement such training (“we do not have such a level of Spanish to master professional content”);
  • Insufficient attention is paid to developing writing skills and explaining grammar (“it was better to do more grammar, not business”);
  • Overloaded educational process, work on cases in a group takes more time (“such a program requires a lot of time, which we do not have, since we study other disciplines”).
The use of multilingual education was very popular among interviewed students. The respondents noted that at the beginning of the course they could not get used to the constant switching between languages, since in the last two years Spanish was the most common language used in the classroom. By the end of the course, however, the students appreciated the idea of using multiple languages and noted that it helped them to understand the rules of the Spanish language, as there was a comparison with their native language and with the English language.
An important aspect that the respondents drew attention to was the advantage of the multilingual approach in the study of professional discipline. Since students study according to an international program, all theoretical knowledge is accordingly exchanged exclusively in English. The proposed learning model allowed them to look at professional content differently, from the perspective of a different language, which expanded their knowledge and immersion.

4. Discussion

After analyzing the results of the experiment, we can draw conclusions about the positive experience of implementing the proposed educational model, thus confirming our hypothesis.
As a result of training according to this model, the Spanish language outcomes in the experimental group were better than in the control group. Consequently, the application of this model contributes to the study of the Spanish language. It is worth noting that the results of the experimental group showed that writing skills developed to a lesser extent than others. This difference in the development of writing skills is explained by the fact that in the CLIL group more attention was paid to the development of communicative oral skills and group interaction. In the traditional teaching model, more emphasis was placed on writing. In further work on the educational model, it is necessary to take this into account and think over additional activities for better progress in writing skills.
The study of professional discipline in the Spanish language class has become a controversial point in discussion with students. Some students responded negatively. However, according to the results of testing students in the course of international business (professional discipline), the control group coped better than the experimental group. It is important to emphasize that the difference in the results of the control and experimental groups turned out to be insignificant. Thus, the application of the educational model under consideration contributes to the study of professional content, albeit insignificantly. With the further development of the design of the model under consideration, it is worth taking this into account and finalizing the block of professional discipline for its greater efficiency.
As a result of the survey (N = 24), as well as interviews (N = 8) with students, it was revealed that students evaluate this model as effective. The development of multilingualism and switching between languages was especially noted. The students also noted the increased motivation to study and the emerging opportunity to use the Spanish language in business communication. However, some students also noted the following negative aspects: excessive complexity, unfamiliarity and insufficient knowledge of the Spanish language for effective study.
It is important to note that this study has limitations. The study involved only one experimental group of students. This is due to the fact that the proposed educational model is very new; we have not found research that introduces the approved model into the educational process. Thus, the result of the experiment was impossible to predict, which carried risks for the effectiveness of the educational process.
An important difference between our study and other works listed in the literature review is the simultaneous introduction of CLIL and the multilingual approach into one educational model. Thus, the students studied the Spanish language and the professional discipline (International Business), while using multilingualism and their mother tongue (i.e., English and Spanish).

5. Conclusions

In connection with the tightening requirements for university graduates from the business side, there are changes in programs and teaching methods in higher educational institutions. The graduate must have a whole pool of professional competencies, knowledge and skills. In addition, the modernized education of the 21st century is based on humanism and openness towards the outside world. Multilingual education focused on the harmonization of different cultural spaces is a necessary part of a modern vision of the world. There is a gradual introduction of the student to a fully-fledged existence in the conditions of a modern multilingual and heterogeneous society (including the world of modern communications, social networks, e-mail, etc.)
Earlier studies [8,11,13,16,28] presented in the literature review indicate the feasibility of using both subject-language integrated learning and multilingual learning. A distinctive feature of our study was an attempt to combine these two increasingly popular types of education. It is also worth noting that the study was conducted in Russia, where multilingual practices are not common.
Despite the growing popularity all over the world of CLIL, and its assignment by the European Union, the status of one of the leading effective means of implementing the international language policy of multilingualism, namely, the mechanisms and forms of organizing such training, have not yet found proper understanding among some representatives of teaching staff in Russian higher education, which is largely associated with national characteristics and traditions. Nevertheless, in the globalizing world space, CLIL didactics is becoming a promising area of higher education and an effective way of acquiring and improving linguistic and communicative competencies, ensuring the further successful professionalization of students and facilitating their career advancement in their chosen field of activity.
In the current study, we assessed the efficiency of the learning model based on CLIL methodology from the students’ perspective, as well as analyzing the impact of such a model on students’ Spanish language improvement and professional discipline knowledge.
According to the results, students from the experimental group succeeded in Spanish language learning and scored highly in final testing on professional discipline (the difference between the results of both groups—experimental and control—was not significant). The results confirmed the efficiency of the proposed learning model for both foreign language and professional discipline learning. The survey on the efficiency of the learning model from students’ perspective also showed positive results. Students assessed the learning model as more beneficial and prosperous as it has many advantages, develops multilingual competence and provides them with different learning styles.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, T.B. and A.K.; data curation, E.T.; formal analysis, A.K. and E.T.; investigation, A.K. and E.T.; methodology, E.T.; project administration, T.B. and D.M.; resources, E.T.; supervision, T.B. and D.M.; validation, A.K. and E.T.; writing—original draft, A.K. and E.T.; writing—review and editing, T.B. and A.K. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Learning model for the discipline “Spanish language”.
Figure 1. Learning model for the discipline “Spanish language”.
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Figure 2. Descriptive results of the pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency (Experimental group).
Figure 2. Descriptive results of the pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency (Experimental group).
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Figure 3. Descriptive results of the pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency (Control group).
Figure 3. Descriptive results of the pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency (Control group).
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Table 1. Data collection.
Table 1. Data collection.
ResultsSort of Data CollectionType of Data
Spanish proficiency Scores on testing
(N = 47)
Professional discipline knowledgeScores on testing
(N = 47)
Efficiency of the learning model from students’ perspectiveInterview
(N = 24)
(N = 8)
Table 2. Descriptive results of pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency.
Table 2. Descriptive results of pre-test and the post-test on Spanish proficiency.
GroupCategoryTestMean (SD)t-Value
ExperimentalListeningPre-test13.5 (1.87)5.3 ***
Post-test16.71 (1.94)
ReadingPre-test15.32 (2.1)4.1 ***
Post-test17.44 (1.97)
WritingPre-test15.1 (1.79)2.2 *
Post-test16.9 (1.88)
SpeakingPre-test14.54 (1.74)5.2 ***
Post-test17.88 (1.78)
ControlListeningPre-test13.7 (1.83)4.3 ***
Post-test15.98 (2.02)
ReadingPre-test15.1 (1.99)2.1 *
Post-test16.88 (1.85)
WritingPre-test15.05 (1.89)4.2 ***
Post-test17.2 (1.94)
SpeakingPre-test14.37 (1.69)4.5 ***
Post-test16.91 (1.78)
* p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001.
Table 3. Descriptive results of testing for professional discipline proficiency.
Table 3. Descriptive results of testing for professional discipline proficiency.
GroupTesting ResultsMeanSDt-Value
ExperimentalProfessional discipline71.875.721.7
ControlProfessional discipline73.446.13
* p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001.
Table 4. Results on the efficiency of the learning model from the students’ perspective.
Table 4. Results on the efficiency of the learning model from the students’ perspective.
The current learning model can give more advantages rather than disadvantages to my academic achievement4.410.32
The current learning model can enhance my multilingual competency 3.870.39
The current learning model provides complete content in my learning with good exercise3.950.28
The current learning model provides me with different learning styles and can make my learning more fun 4.110.42
The current learning model helps to make my lesson more effective compare to traditional learning model4.340.33
Average efficiency level4.14
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Baranova, T.; Mokhorov, D.; Kobicheva, A.; Tokareva, E. Assessment of the Application of Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Multilingual Classroom. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 808.

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Baranova T, Mokhorov D, Kobicheva A, Tokareva E. Assessment of the Application of Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Multilingual Classroom. Education Sciences. 2021; 11(12):808.

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Baranova, Tatiana, Dmitriy Mokhorov, Aleksandra Kobicheva, and Elena Tokareva. 2021. "Assessment of the Application of Content and Language Integrated Learning in a Multilingual Classroom" Education Sciences 11, no. 12: 808.

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