Immigrants’ first and second language proficiency and social integration


With the continuation of our interdisciplinary project (see 1st funding period), we aim at further clarifying the role of immigrants’ first and second language proficiency and language use for their social integration, making use of the advanced analytical potential of the forthcoming new waves of NEPS data. Emanating from a general resource perspective, language proficiency is seen as a crucial resource for social integration, especially structural integration into the educational system. This view is generally accepted with respect to the language of the country of residence (L2), whereas the role of the language of the country of origin (L1) is disputed. In our research, we address this controversial issue and investigate how L1 and L2 relate to educational success. In the first funding period, we explored the relationship between language proficiency, language use and different aspects of educational competencies based on the then available cross-sectional NEPS Scientific Use Files. During the second funding period, the NEPS will provide the opportunity to analyze at least three and up to seven waves of data in the different starting cohorts. Thus, we will be able to carry out longitudinal analyses addressing the processes at work more thoroughly. A first goal will be to further examine the role of language for structural integration, including the direction of linguistic transfer between proficiency in L1 and L2 as well as effects of L1 proficiency and L1 use on different aspects of competence development, educational decisions and labor market returns. A second objective is to expand our view by including other aspects of social integration, namely cultural identity and its interplay with language use and proficiency. We plan to study their joint and separate effects on immigrant students’ educational achievement. The third set of research questions pertains to patterns and determinants of language development over time, focusing on crucial stages during childhood and adolescence. In these analyses, we will compare patterns across immigrant groups, generations and cohorts. Building on our previous analyses showing restricted validity of self-assessed language proficiency, finally, we set out to develop statistical strategies to correct for these biased self-reports.


Funding Agency

DFG (DFG Priority Programme 1646 “Education as a Lifelong Process”), 2nd funding period



Schotte, K., Stanat, P. & Edele, A. (2018). Is integration always most adaptive? The role of cultural identity in academic achievement and in psychological adaptation of immigrant students in Germany. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(1), 16-37. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0737-x

Edele, A., Schotte, K. & Stanat, P. (2016). Assessment of immigrant students’ listening comprehension in their first languages (L1) Russian and Turkish in grade 9: Test construction and validation. In H.-P. Blossfeld, J. von Maurice, M. Bayer & J. Skopek (eds.), Methodological issues of longitudinal surveys. The example of the National Educational Panel Study (S. 441-463). Frankfurt am Main/New York: Springer.

Edele, A. & Stanat, P. (2016). The role of first-language listening comprehension in second-language reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(2), 84-110. doi:10.1037/edu0000060

Kempert, S., Edele, A., Rauch, D., Wolf, K.M., Paetsch, J., Darsow, A., Maluch, J., & Stanat, P. (2016). Die Rolle der Sprache für zuwanderungsbezogene Ungleichheiten im Bildungserfolg. In C. Diehl, C. Hunkler & C. Kristen (eds.), Ethnische Ungleichheiten im Bildungsverlauf: Mechanismen, Befunde, Debatten (S. 157-241). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Olczyk, M., Seuring, J., Will, G. & Zinn, S. (2016). Migranten und ihre Nachkommen im deutschen Bildungssystem: ein aktueller Überblick. In C. Diehl, C. Hunkler & C. Kristen (eds.), Ethnische Ungleichheiten im Bildungsverlauf: Mechanismen, Befunde, Debatten (S. 157-241). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Stanat, P. & Edele, A. (2016). Language proficiency and the integration of immigrant students in the education system. In M. Buchmann, R. A. Scott & S. M. Kosslyn (eds.), Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences: An interdisciplinary, searchable, and linkable resource. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Strobel, B. (2016). Does family language matter? The role of foreign language use and family social capital in the educational achievement of immigrant students in Germany. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(14), 2641-2663. doi:10.1080/01419870.2016.1145712

Strobel, B., & Seuring, J. (2016). Spracherhalt oder Sprachverlagerung?. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 68(2), 309. doi:10.1007/s11577-016-0360-y

Edele, A., Seuring, J., Kristen, C. & Stanat, P. (2015). Why bother with testing? The validity of immigrants’ self-assessed language proficiency. Social Science Research, 52, 99-123. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.12.017

Strobel, B., & Kristen, C. (2015). Erhalt der Herkunftssprache?–Muster des Sprachgebrauchs in Migrantenfamilien. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 18(1), 125-142. doi:10.1007/s11618-014-0607-1

Edele, A., Schotte, K., Hecht, M. & Stanat, P. (2012). Listening comprehension tests of immigrant students’ first languages (L1) Russian and Turkish in grade 9: Scaling procedure and results (NEPS Working Paper No. 13).