Long-term study on the development of language competencies at secondary schools in South Tyrol
The aim of the long-term study “Language Competencies”, which ran from 2015 to 2018, was to accompany the establishment of multilingualism as an educational goal at eight selected South Tyrolean middle schools.
The study aimed to understand,
- how diversity can be perceived and used as a resource in everyday school life,
- whether the support measures implemented have an effect and
- how language competencies can be promoted.
Within the framework of the project, eight classes at South Tyrolean secondary schools were accompanied, four at German-speaking schools and four at Italian-speaking schools. The selected classes were scientifically accompanied and assisted in view of language support and multilingualism measures from the first grade onwards until the end of secondary school.
The focus of the study, which combined a wide variety of methods, instruments, and data, was first on the students, whose multilingual competencies were assessed and whose multilingual development was monitored during the three years at middle school. In doing so, we asked ourselves the following questions:
- What multilingual competencies do students possess at middle school?
- How can students develop or enhance multilingual competences?
- What factors support students on their educational path?
A second focus of consideration was on the teachers who taught languages at the selected schools and thus contribute significantly to their students’ acquisition of multilingual competencies. The central research questions were:
- What multilingual competences do middle school teachers possess?
- How can multilingualism be promoted in everyday school life?
- How can students whose first language differs from the language of instruction be effectively and sustainably supported in the classroom?
Last but not least, the institutional structures were also investigated by focusing in particular on the cooperation between the various institutions.
The results of the study paint a diverse picture of everyday life in South Tyrolean secondary schools, where multilingualism thrives on the diversity of the students and is given space through the commitment of the teachers.
The final report of the study is available in German and in Italian: