Another platform and a changed context: student experiences of developing spontaneous speaking in French through Physical Education

Penny Lamb, Graham King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This study highlights a complementary partnership between physical education and foreign language learning, endorsing the potential of an applied learning context as an alternative pedagogical platform. A pedagogic model of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) within physical education was adopted to explore the capacity for improving students’ spontaneous speaking in French. The study’s motivation was the 2016 changes to England’s General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) French specifications, which placed an increased emphasis on responding spontaneously in spoken French and sustaining communication in different situations. Students (n = 42) aged 13–14, soon to embark on GCSE French, were introduced to a 10-week handball scheme of work that included learning associated key French vocabulary and students communicating with each other and the teacher in French. Adopting case study methodology, data collection included student questionnaires, individual teacher interviews and student focus groups, analysed using inductive analysis and constant comparison. The physical education CLIL platform provided a learning context that appeared to support student perceptions of increased motivation and reduced anxiety, with 60% of students reporting that speaking French during physical education increased their confidence in speaking French aloud. Findings suggest the importance of an applied learning environment that emphasises working as a group, encouraging a willingness to take risks in spontaneous speaking, and decreasing sensitivity to negative judgement. A physical education-located CLIL model appears to offer learning experiences within the skill-based traditions of physical education beyond ‘learning to move’, providing a context for ‘moving to learn’ as an investment towards embodied learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-534
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number2
Early online date29 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Content and language integrated learning
  • applied learning
  • group work
  • risk-taking
  • spontaneous speaking

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