The article summarizes some major findings of an evaluation project on extensive bilingual courses set at grammar schools in Berlin (using English as a working language). It focuses on interdependencies between (on the one hand) foreign language competences and (on the other hand) academic discourse competencies relevant to subject matter teaching at the advanced lower secondary level. Employing a contrastive design the study compares the performance of two different samples of pupils; one take from regular monolingual classes and one drawn from bilingual streams at the same school. Both groups of students underwent a fully fledged English achievement and proficiency test plus a test tapping learners' subject matter literacy pertaining to curricular areas such as history, geography and biology. For both the latter test both samples used their respective working language (German or English). Statistical analysis reveals that significant correlations exist between linguistic competences (especially lexiogrammar and/or general proficiency) and academic achievements in English-medium content learning. The results suggest that there may be a double language threshold (a lower one and an upper one) which acts as an intervening variable towards academic discourse competencies, accounting thereby for learner' poor or high performance in instructional settings where content is taught through a foreign language.
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