31 SES 06 A, Studies on Developing Writing Skills
Today, every second child born in one of Germany’s metropolitan regions is of immigrant origin (FHH, 2014). This demographic fact is of particular importance, as international large-scale assessment studies have repeatedly shown that migrant pupils are characterized by significantly lower levels of attainment than their non-migrant peers. In Germany, the achievement gap between pupils with and without an immigrant background is still exceptionally large (Prenzel et al., 2012).
There is broad consensus (not only amongst researchers) that the development of strong language skills is vital not only for academic success, but also to be able to participate fully in a democratic society (Darling-Hammond/Bransford, 2007). Research has shown that it is necessary to differentiate between differing kinds of language proficiency: While conversational language skills are appropriate in social situations, academic language (Cummins, 1991) or the language of schooling (Schleppegrell, 2004) – a formal, context-reduced language register – is required for educational success (Skutnabb-Kangas/Toukomaa, 1976).
The acquisition of academic language is especially challenging for language-minority and low-SES students (Heppt et al., 2014). To minimize the risk of them falling behind, they need to be provided with a focused, continuous and inclusive language support (Gibbons, 2002; Gogolin et al., 2011). In traditional immigrant countries (e.g. Great Britain, Canada, Australia) various methods for the integration of language and content learning have been developed since the 1980ies. After decades of officially not identifying as a country of immigration, the need for language support has finally been acknowledged by German educational authorities, too: Teaching standards and educational curricula nowadays request teachers of all subjects and grades to focus on the development of their students’ academic language skills (FHH, 2011).
Despite the positive development on the administrative level, the need for language education is still neglected in both phases of the German teacher training, i.e. at university and the following practical placement at schools. Furthermore, questions concerning inclusive language learning have primarily been discussed by scholars working in the fields of intercultural education and linguistics. Contrarily, the German debate on teacher professionalism (which triggers change in teacher education programs and teaching standards) has re-focused on the importance of the subject matter. Unlike other frameworks of teacher proficiency (Darling-Hammond/Bransford, 2007) models currently being used in Germany do not explicitly address the role of language (Baumert/Kunter, 2006).
To this day, there are hardly any empirical studies on the question of how language support is realized by teachers in different subjects. A representative study amongst teachers in Germany shows that 91% of educators agree that language support is important and necessary (Baumann/Becker-Mrotzek, 2014). Nevertheless, 61% of the participants report to not actively engage in the promotion of their students’ academic language skills. These results are supported by Riebling (2013): Her survey amongst Natural Science teachers in Hamburg indicates that more than 90% of those questioned do not provide language support in their subject lessons. Moreover, it seems that teachers are generally not aware of the particularities of the academic language register and seldom address it explicitly in class (Nagy/Townsend, 2012). In addition, research in the field has primarily been focused on Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Subjects classifying as Social Studies have so far been disregarded, although it is commonly agreed on that these subjects are predominantly based on texts (newspaper articles, source texts, textbooks etc.) and therefore require specific literacy skills.
The present study investigates i) what Social Studies teachers’ approaches and attitudes towards inclusive language education are, ii) which factors (personal, professional and school-related) foster the occurrence of inclusive language teaching, and iii) whether the reported practices and attitudes vary between different content areas (Social Studies vs. Natural Sciences).
Baumann, B., & Becker-Mrotzek, M. (2014). Sprachförderung und Deutsch als Zweitsprache an deutschen Schulen: Was leistet die Lehrerbildung? Köln. Baumert, J., & Kunter, M. (2006). Stichwort: Professionelle Kompetenz von Lehrkräften. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 9(4), 469–520. Breit, G., & Weißeno, G. (2012). Planung des Politikunterrichts: Eine Einführung. Gegenstandsbereich. Bedingungsanalyse. Ziele. Methoden und Medien. Politikdidaktische Perspektiven. Schwalbach/Taunus. Cummins, J. (1991). Conversational and academic language proficiency in bilingual contexts. In J. H. Hulstijn & J. F. Matter (Eds.), AILA-Review: Vol. 8. Reading in Two Languages (pp. 75–89). Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (Eds.). (2007). Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. San Francisco. FHH - Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung (Ed.). (2014). HANSE - Hamburger Schriften zur Qualität im Bildungswesen: Bildungsbericht Hamburg 2014. Münster [u.a]. FHH – Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung. (2011). Bildungsplan Stadtteilschule Jahrgangsstufe 5 bis 11.: Lernbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften. Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: teaching second language learners in the mainstream classroom. Portsmouth, NH. Gogolin, I. et al. (Eds.). (2011). FörMig Edition: Vol. 7. Förderung von Kindern und Jugendlichen mit Migrationshintergrund FörMig: Bilanz und Perspektiven eines Modellprogramms. Münster. Gräsel, C., & Pachmann, I. (2004). Implementationsforschung – oder: der steinige Weg, Unterricht zu verändern. Unterrichtswissenschaft. (32), 196–214. Hattie, J. A. (2009). Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London [u.a.] Helmke, A. (2009). Unterrichtsqualität und Lehrerprofessionalität: Diagnose, Evaluation und Verbesserung des Unterrichts. Seelze-Velber. Heppt, B. et al. (2014). The role of academic language features for reading comprehension of language minority students and students from low SES families. Reading Research Quarterly, 1–22. Nagy, W., & Townsend, D. (2012). Words as tools: Learning academic vocabulary as language acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91–108. Nulty, D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: What can be done? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301–314. Prenzel, M. et al. (Eds.) (2013): PISA 2012. Fortschritte und Herausforderungen in Deutschland. Münster. Riebling, L. (2013). Sprachbildung im naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht: Eine Studie im Kontext migrationsbedingter sprachlicher Heterogenität. Münster: Waxmann. Sauer, M. (2012). Geschichte unterrichten: Eine Einführung in die Didaktik und Methodik. Seelze-Velber. Schleppegrell, M. (2004). The Language of Schooling: A Functional Linguistics Perspective. London. Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & Toukomaa, P. (1976). Teaching migrant children's mother tongue and learning the language of the host country in the context of the sociocultural situation of the migrant family. Tampere.
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