CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is burgeoning all over Europe and this is particularly so in Spain. In fact, during the last ten years content language instruction through a foreign language (mainly English) has become one of the main novelties in the field of curricular innovation (Coyle et al., 2011). One of the main reasons put forward by the advocates of this approach is that students are more motivated as a result of participating in CLIL programmes (Dalton-Puffer, 2011). Since motivation is one of the most influential individual variables when it comes to learning an L2 (Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2009), the benefits of the CLIL approach are taken for granted. However, there is a dearth of studies which empirically confirm the differences in motivation when comparing traditional EFL (English as a Foreign Language) instruction and CLIL.
This article aims to shed light on this issue through a study carried out in the Basque Country (Spain) in two different grades. 393 compulsory secondary education students (aged 12-13 and 14-15) enrolled in EFL and CLIL courses participated in the study. The data was gathered by means of a previously piloted and validated quantitative questionnaire. The statistical analyses showed that CLIL students were more motivated; however, these results should be analysed with caution and taking into account a series of individual (age and sex) and contextual (socio-cultural) variables that may influence such results. The effect of these variables, which have little to do with the CLIL approach per se, has not always been considered when explaining the positive outcomes of CLIL.