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Focus on Form and Focus on Meaning: Effects of Two Approaches to Second-Language Teaching and Learning in Primary School

Research Scientists

Annkathrin Darsow, M.A.
Dr. Anja Felbrich
Jennifer Paetsch

Student Assistants

Sandrina Goebel
Miriam Knauß
Sophia Oswald

Project in Cooperation with

Prof. Dr. Heidi Rösch, PH Karlsruhe


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Empirische Bildungsforschung im Bereich Sprachdiagnostik/Sprachförderung

Funding Period

April 2009 - March 2012

Project Description

Immigrant students in Germany are considerably less successful in school than in many other countries. At the same time, little is known about the effectiveness of different measures that aim at supporting these students. Starting from empirical research carried out in the Jacobs Summer Camp Project, the present study aims at further developing two approaches to second-language support (explicit support with focus on form and implicit support with focus on meaning). Subsequently, the relative effectiveness of these approaches is tested within a field experimental design.

Over a period of one year, a sample of third-grade immigrant students will receive additive language support from prospective teachers. One treatment group is supported explicitly using a language-systematic approach, while the other treatment group receives implicit language support in mathematics and science instruction. In addition, a waiting control group will receive support a year later. The effects of both treatments on language skills, students’ achievement in school subjects, overall school success, and motivation of students as well as the stability of the effects are evaluated using four measurement points.

The study will provide information on the relative effectiveness of the two approaches in terms of language learning and scholastic development. The study aims at establishing scientifically sound, empirically tested, and well-documented programs that can be implemented in schools to support second-language acquisition.