The Use of Implicit Knowledge in the Education of Newly Arrived Migrant Children - A Mixed Methods Research about Assessment Strategies and Teaching Practices in a Multilingual Classroom
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With the rising number of migrant pupils in the European education systems who do not have sufficient knowledge of the new country’s language of schooling, educators are being challenged to successfully integrate pupils into their new schools and classes. In Germany, DaZ teachers often have different levels of expertise and professional backgrounds, while not enough guidance or recommendations on effective didactics are available. Especially the development of implicit language knowledge has been identified as essential for the process of language acquisition and language competence. However, how to concretely measure and use implicit knowledge, especially in the context of newly arrived migrant (NAM) children education, has thus far not been studied. Therefore, this research aimed at identifying efficient language learning methods for the assessment and application of implicit knowledge in second language teaching. In this context, it was further focused on the incorporation of pupils’ first languages as their application cannot only help when assessing knowledge, but its development stage has also a direct impact on the acquisition of another language. For the data collection, a mixed methods approach was chosen. Firstly, an online survey was distributed amongst DaZ and DaF teachers, which was followed by a focus group interview with DaZ teachers to discuss the survey results and receive recommendations for beneficial practices. The results suggest that methods need to deviate from explicit learning strategies and focus more on authentic practices, composed of a variety of free speaking exercises to directly draw on pupils’ prior knowledge. Especially visual materials, storytelling, narrative conversations, and scenic role play were recommended for the assessment and use of implicit knowledge. Through the incorporation of pupils’ first language into teaching and project work, their metalinguistic awareness can be strengthened, and a stronger bond between students and teachers can be created. This also includes recognising NAM children’s languages as an asset rather than a disadvantage. Implementing these recommendations will not only have a positive effect on the migrant pupil’s language development but also their overall inclusion in the new environment.