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Social Relationships in Binational-bilingual School Projects: Network Analysis and Qualitative Investigation of Heterogeneity and Foreignness in Two Educational Programs in Saxony

In 1998, the cities of Görlitz and Pirna, located in the state of Saxony, established grammar schools that teach combined classes of German and Polish and German and Czech children, respectively. In bilingual instructional settings of this kind, existing language skills are viewed as a teaching resource. The special feature of binational-bilingual school projects is that they deliberately create linguistic and cultural heterogeneity in order to provide extra support for language acquisition: Students in these programs are not just supposed to learn a foreign language in their language classes, but also have the opportunity to learn the language through contact with their classmates. In addition, it is expected that students will establish cross-border relationships. For that reason, the overall educational conditions at each institution are also linked to specific, intentionally created opportunities for learning. One question that has gone unanswered to date, however, is how the relationships between students who participate in these projects develop – in light of the expectations established for students and the fact that they are linked to an institutional setting. This study takes this question as its point of departure, asking what social relationships have developed within the two binational school projects. In addition, the study looks at the question of how the students themselves rate the quality of their relationships with classmates.


Project term: 01/2005 – 03/2010


Responsible scientist: Jörg Nicht, M. A.