© Annette Etges/Mercator-Institut

Systematic review of the effectiveness of integrated strategies in classrooms

Language education is crucial for educational success, which is why it is important to continuously support language competence in children and young people throughout their school careers. To this end, researchers in recent years have been developing concepts that integrate language support into subject lessons at the primary and secondary levels. Likewise, the goal of pursuing integrated strategies in classrooms has increasingly been adopted in curricula and syllabuses, as well as in teacher training and further education measures.

However, there is as yet no empirical evidence showing whether and to what extent this integration of academic language and subject learning in classrooms is effective. So far, no comprehensive systematic review that takes German-speaking countries into account has been conducted to show whether and under what conditions integrated approaches demonstrably improve the children's language skills and thus promote subject learning. The project aims to close this research gap.

The objective of this project is to systematically identify the current state of international research on integrated strategies in primary and secondary education, to appraise the quality of existing evidence and to produce a narrative research synthesis assessing how effective existing approaches are.

Within the scope of the systematic review, the research team develops a strategy for searching, selection and appraisal which is defined in a protocol (see below) that is subjected to peer review.

In line with this strategy, researchers conduct structured queries based on text mining procedures in six general and topic-specific international databases. Moreover, five expert networks and mailing lists are used to identify grey literature. In addition, the search is complemented by manual searches using the snowballing principle. Next, the research team uses a multi-stage screening process to identify relevant documents published in English or German. Using a pre-defined catalogue of external and internal validity criteria, the research team assesses the quality and meaningfulness of the studies.

Results obtained from the systematic review provide an up-to-date, nuanced picture of the current state of research on concepts of instruction for academic language education that integrate academic language and subject learning. They serve as the basis for evidence-based recommendations for action in educational administration and practice as well as for the initiation of new research projects.

At a glance


The project aims to conduct a systematic review of integrated strategies in classrooms at primary and secondary levels.


Professor Karin Zimmer (University of Vechta/DIPF - DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education)

Jolika Schulte (University of Vechta)


August 2018 - May 2022

Project management

Dr. Martha Höfler

Project team

Anastasia Knaus (until 8/2019)
Leonie Twente
Rebekka Wanka (until 09/2021)
Dr. Annika Witte (until 04/2020)
Dr. Till Woerfel
Dr. Tetyana Vasylyeva

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