© A. Etges/Mercator-Institut

Secondary Analysis of the NEPS Data

on the Linguistic Development of Newly Arrived Students

In 2015, around 200,000 children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 arrived as new migrants in Germany. Since then, both researchers and practitioners have been greatly interested in finding out how the German language skills of these children and young people develop. Students who arrive in Germany after having reached school age require special consideration because their linguistic development, due to their later entry into the education system and their different educational experiences, does not always match that of students who arrived earlier or were born here.

At the moment, there is very little empirical evidence relating to the linguistic development of these newly arrived migrant students. In particular, there is a lack of robust data that can serve as a basis for curricular and didactic decisions. This is where the research project comes in, taking a close look at the linguistic development of this group.

In order to evaluate the development over the years, longitudinal panel studies are particularly suitable for this investigation, such as the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi). However, although the linguistic performance of newly arrived migrant students is examined in the NEPS cohorts, previous analyses have not differentiated between migrant students who arrived before and those who arrived after reaching the mandatory school age.

A reanalysis of the NEPS data from two cohorts (beginning in Year 5 or Year 9) will attempt to fill this void. The data of those students who only arrived in Germany after they had reached school age are analysed separately to answer the following research questions: How does German and English language performance (reading comprehension, reading fluency and listening comprehension in German and reading comprehension in English) of newly arrived migrant students in secondary school compare to the non-migrant cohorts, and does this difference change over time? What are the individual characteristics that help to explain differences?

The data are intended to provide initial information on how such learners develop over time in comparison to class cohorts.

Auf einen Blick


The objective of the project is to conduct a secondary analysis of the NEPS data on the linguistic development of migrant students who only arrived in Germany after reaching school age.


January 2021 - December 2022

Project management

Prof. Dr. Nicole Marx

Project team

Claus Caspari