The purpose of this study is to identify the language needed and used by the teacher and the learners in inquiry-based teaching in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classrooms. The hypothesis is that inquiry-based teaching increases language competency and understanding of subject-specific concepts - the two main goals of CLIL teaching. Three main areas were examined to support this hypothesis: the level of inquiry skills used by the students, teacher questions that prompt the use of inquiry skills and the use of specific academic language functions used by both students and teachers.
The CLIL environment demands a level of talking and interaction that is different to that of the traditional language classroom, and inquiry-based teaching demands a level of thinking that not only helps learners to better form concepts and understanding related to content, but also provides opportunities for more effective language learning.
While CLIL itself makes good use of time available in schools through its inherent twin structure, adding a third component which increases the effectiveness of the first two makes even better sense.
The language that 10 to 14-year-old Austrian pupils use while working on inquiry-based tasks in mathematics and history in English has been analyzed through the use of Bloom's Taxonomy and Socratic Questioning as well as an additional tool designed to analyze explicit and implicit hypothesizing language. Important differences in academic language functions used, evidence of student thinking skills and types of teacher questions as compared to non-inquiry CLIL lesson data were found.
These findings are useful to teachers and teacher trainers, especially, in that they clearly show not only the advantages of CLIL and inquiry-based teaching as separate successful methodologies, but also the benefit of their combined effects.