Hands-on science for recently immigrated students: possibilities for language acquisition and motivation for science

  • Mario Schmiedebach Bielefeld University
  • Claas Wegner Bielefeld University
Keywords: action-oriented, Biology for Everyone, CLILiG, immigrated students, international classes, introductory classes, L2-motivation, science education, science motivation


Schools have begun to face many challenges with the influx of recently immigrated students who are not able to speak the official language well enough to participate in class. To help integrate and accelerate language acquisition in German schools, these students are often enrolled in "international classes". Our project, "Biology for Everyone", teaches newly arrived secondary students science through the use of hands-on experiments. While addressing scientific content, students build new language structures and improve their German. Using 13 interviews, the concomitant research examines students’ evaluations of the project in relation to science as well as language acquisition with a qualitative content analysis. Results show that students value this action-oriented approach as it helps them understand scientific concepts. Furthermore, they notice an improvement in their German and an increase in their science content knowledge. Therefore, such "international classes" should be considered for use in additional subjects in order to ease integration into the regular school system.