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Keywords:

  • classroom discourse;
  • CLIL;
  • discourse functions;
  • language assistants;
  • Spain

Each year more than 800 native English-speaking language assistants are brought into Madrid's bilingual/Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) primary schools to assist local teachers and promote students' foreign language and intercultural competence. In spite of these high numbers and the cost to the bilingual programme, no specific guidelines are provided by the bilingual programme administrators regarding how the assistants should collaborate with the local teachers in the classroom. This article sets out to describe how these two different groups of educators interact in the classroom, how they distribute their corresponding teaching roles, and how these roles are articulated linguistically. Drawing on three broad strands of literature, namely (a) Systemic Functional Linguistics and the distinction between instructional and regulative classroom registers, (b) Discourse Analysis and classroom discourse functions, and (c) Second Language Acquisition and interactional strategies, this study analyses team teaching situations and provides a description of the discursive practices enacted. The data suggest qualitative differences in the type of discourse produced by both sets of participants while interpretations are offered in the light of native and nonnative speaker status, novice and expert teacher profiles, and possible intercultural differences. In closing we briefly discuss some of the implications for team teaching practice in bilingual/CLIL programmes across contexts.