© A. Etges/Mercator-Institut

Language Skills of Newly Immigrated Students

in Mainstream Education

Since 2015, the increased migration of school-aged children to Germany has sparked heightened national interest in their language skills. Despite the 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 investigates language skills of immigrated students in German (the language of schooling), English (the first foreign language), and, for a subset, with 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 examined the state of research on the language development of students recently 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, and
  • in a number of subprojects (see below), data will be collected on various language skills of approximately 100 newly immigrated and mainstream students (grades 5 to 8) in secondary schools in NRW.

Together, these projects will provide first insights into the language skills of 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 language skills 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
Dr. Teresa Barberio

Project team

Dr. Stefanie Bredthauer
Claus Caspari
Dr. Sonja Eisenbeiß
Melanie Fuchs
Anastasia Knaus
Jun.-Prof. Nora von Dewitz

Cooperation partner

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Evghenia Goltsev (University of Regensburg)
Prof. Dr. Jacopo Torregrossa (Goethe University Frankfurt)

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