© A. Etges/Mercator-Institut

Language Development of newly immigrated students

in Mainstream Education

Since 2015, the increased migration of school-aged children to Germany has sparked great national interest in their linguistic development. Despite the relevance and size of this population (in some states, they comprise over 10 percent of the student population, cf. School Statistics 2019, NRW), they have received little attention in previous studies.

The current project asks how these newly immigrated students develop their language skills in both German (as the language of schooling), English (as the first foreign language), and Russian (as a family language), and how their skills are interrelated across languages. Different methods and data sets will be used to answer this question:

  • a scoping review examines the state of research on the language development of students newly immigrated to German-speaking countries.
  • a secondary data analysis of Germany’s large-scale longitudinal NEPS database considers, for the first time, the learning trajectories for newly immigrated students.
  • in a number of subprojects (see below), new data will be collected on various aspects of the language development of approximately 100 newly immigrated and mainstream students (grades 5 to 8) in three secondary schools in NRW.

Together, these projects will provide first insights into the language skills and development of newly immigrated students vis-à-vis their non-immigrated peers, and to serve as a basis for further projects.

At a glance


The aim of the project is to analyze the linguistic development of newly immigrated students in the school language German, the foreign language English, and the first language Russian and to what extent their linguistic competencies are interlingually related.


February 2021 to December 2022

Project management

Prof. Dr. Nicole Marx

Project team

Teresa Barberio
Dr. Stefanie Bredthauer
Claus Caspari
Dr. Sonja Eisenbeiß
Melanie Fuchs
Dr. Evghenia Goltsev
Dr. Annina Hessel
Anastasia Knaus
Jun.-Prof. Nora von Dewitz

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