The development of English grammar and reading comprehension by majority and minority language children in a bilingual primary school

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Anja K. Steinlen


Both for the first language (L1) and for all additional languages (L2 or L3), grammatical knowledge plays a vital role in understanding texts (e.g., Grabe, 2005). However, little is known about the development and interaction of grammar and reading comprehension in beginning foreign language learning, especially with respect to children with a minority language background. This longitudinal study, therefore, examined minority and majority language children’s English grammar and reading comprehension skills. The children attended a German-English partial immersion primary school and were tested at the end of Grades 3 and 4. As expected, we found grammar to affect reading comprehension but also reverse effects. Most importantly, the results did not reveal any differences between the two language groups, irrespective of the test. Therefore, immersion primary school programs seem to be suitable for minority language children, and these children do not automatically represent an at-risk group for foreign language learning.


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Author Biography

Anja K. Steinlen, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany


Anja K. Steinlen, PhD, a linguist, is Assistant Professor at the Department for Foreign Language Teaching at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Her research interests include first, second and third language acquisition in bilingual institutions (preschools and schools) with a special focus on at-risk children. Anja K. Steinlen received her PhD from the University of Århus, Denmark) on a topic related to L2 speech learning. Contact details: Department of Foreign Language Teaching, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuernberg, Glueckstr. 5, 91054 Erlangen, Germany


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