From words to text: academic writing in EFL classrooms

Søren Hattesen Balle, Merete Olsen, Lise Østbirk Bencard, Christian Grosen

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperCommunication


This paper will take its point of departure in the following two questions:

Why work with academic writing and CLIL in EFL classrooms?
How to support the development of EFL students’ academic writing skills through a focus on a CLIL approach, subject-specific vocabulary, meaningful text production and authentic audiences?

Today’s children are both learners of language and users of language in the learning process (Scarino & Liddicoat, 2009), which calls for an updated approach to EFL teaching and learning. Theory on modern language teaching revolves around how to make academic writing authentic, meaningful, and motivating for schoolchildren to help them become competent text producers (Hyland & Tse, 2007; Gibbons, 2009; Nagy & Townsend, 2012; Thise & Vilien, 2019).
Our paper will be organised around a discussion of the potentials of working with CLIL (Coyle, Hood & Marsh, 2010), vocabulary development and authentic academic communication (Henriksen, 2019) where language teaching functions as a means of developing children’s academic writing skills across subject-specific content areas. The focus will be on how to bridge the gap between vocabulary learning and text production and how to communicate effectively with peers in authentic academic contexts.
After this theoretically founded introduction to the above key issues, findings deriving from the NCFF-funded project “Building More Vocabulary - Building More Communicative Competence” will be unfolded. Emphasis will be on vocabulary learning in relation to the increasing requirements of a larger and more nuanced vocabulary outside everyday colloquial language in today’s society. This to support children’s ability to become future partakers of the international dialogue about important global challenges.
The findings of the project are based on an action research approach, an approach to “enquiry by participants where the participants are at the same time members of the research community” (Burns, 2005) and where the aim of the enquiry is to bring about changes to the practice of teaching.

Burns, A. (2005). 3. Understanding action research. In A. Burns & H. de S. Joyce (eds.), Teachers voices 8: explicitly supporting reading and writing in the classroom (17-25). Sydney: Macquarie University.

Coyle, D., Ph. Hood & D. Marsh (2010). CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gibbons, P. (2009). English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Henriksen, B. (2019). Fokus på det “overset ordforråd”. In A. S. Gregersen (red.), Sprogfag i forandring - pædagogik og praksis (3. udgave, Bind 1, 201-225). Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur. [Focus on the “Overlooked Vocabulary”]

Hyland, K. & P. Tse (2007). Is There an “Academic Vocabulary”? TESOL Quarterly, 41(2), 235-253.

Nagy, W. & D. Townsend (2012). Words as Tools: Learning Academic Vocabulary as Language Acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91-108.

Scarino, A. & A. J. Liddicoat (2009). Teaching and Learning Languages - A Guide. Carlton South, Vic.: Curriculum Corporation.

Thise, H. & K. Vilien (2019). Broen til fagsproget: 32 idéer til at styrke sproget i alle fag. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur. [The Bridge to Academic Language: 32 Ideas for Strengthening Students’ Language in All Subjects]
Translated title of the contributionFra ord til tekst: faglig skrivning i engelskundervisningen
Original languageEnglish
Publication date19 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023
Event10th International Conference of the Association EDiLiC / 10ème congrès international de l’association EDiLiC - Københavns Universitet, København, Denmark
Duration: 28 Jun 202330 Jun 2023


Conference10th International Conference of the Association EDiLiC / 10ème congrès international de l’association EDiLiC
LocationKøbenhavns Universitet
Internet address


  • learning, educational science and teaching
  • schools, courses and institutions
  • CLIL
  • fremmedsprogsdidaktik
  • fremmedsprogsundervisning
  • Media, communication and languages
  • faglig skrivning
  • fagligt ordforråd
  • fremmedsprogstilegnelse
  • ordforrådstilegnelse
  • CLIL
  • Fremmedsprogsdidaktik
  • fremmedsprogsundervisning

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