Mother tongue support

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The mother language training are training for children with an immigrant background, in addition to their mother tongue need to learn the language after school entry at the latest. This support measure has an impact on the acquisition of the second language and thus also on school success. One of many measures is teaching in the mother tongue .

Scientific basis

Learning the mother tongue

Learning the mother tongue begins either in the prenatal phase or immediately after birth (scientists disagree on this). First of all, there is an initial language acquisition for which a child does not need any special assistance. It is only important that someone speaks to him and that people can hear it when they speak. Otherwise, natural language acquisition will be disrupted. The acquisition of the core grammar is completed by primary school age. However, when children start school, they have not yet fully acquired their mother tongue, as essential parts of the language such as vocabulary , grammar and spelling can only be learned completely or at all in the school setting. It is therefore of great importance to continue the language acquisition of the mother tongue when entering school in order to ensure the complete acquisition of the mother tongue. In addition, learning the mother tongue in school also leads to the development of cognitive abilities that enable one to be able to deal confidently with abstract terms and without which a more complex application of the language is not possible. In addition, according to studies, not only the language itself (e.g. Turkish) is learned through the acquisition of the mother tongue, but also the general language as such.

The role of the mother tongue in learning a second language

It is inevitable for migrant children to learn the national language in addition to their mother tongue sooner or later. When the second language is learned differs from case to case, but many children with a migration background only learn the second language in pre-school or primary school. If migrant children are now enrolled in school and only taught in the language that is foreign to them, there will be a break. The mother tongue is not promoted and therefore not further developed and the second language must first be learned, while local children experience literacy in their mother tongue. As a result, cognitive-academic language skills are not acquired sufficiently, which often leads to semilingualism. Semilingualism (“half-lingualism”) means that age-appropriate skills cannot be achieved in either the first or second language. The second language is learned in school, but later, when it comes to using cognitive-academic language skills, the lack of support for the mother tongue and thus the lack of cognitive-academic skills can be noticed.


From this it follows that the support and the unhindered further learning progress in the mother tongue after school entry has positive effects on the acquisition of the second language and thus also on the success in school. In addition, the main emphasis is often placed on migrant children learning German as quickly and well as possible without their bilingualism being seen as something positive and as an opportunity, although “the ability to analyze language and the quality and quantity of language acquisition strategies [...] in bilingual children higher than with monolinguals. "

Models of native language teaching

Four possible goals of mother tongue teaching

  • Preparation for re- migration - the aim is to strengthen the bond between the students and the parents' country of origin. It is assumed that the children will return to the parents' country of origin and they are therefore prepared for the return and integration into the school system of the country of origin.
  • Transition to assimilation - The aim is to facilitate and accelerate the transition from their first language to the language of the host country for students.
  • Promotion of bilingualism - the aim is bicultural integration in the host country and also the enrichment of the language spoken in the host country.
  • Protection of minority languages - the aim is to preserve the mother tongue of the pupils and to integrate them into the language minority in the host country.

Form of instruction

Mother tongue teaching is done in several ways.

  • parallel to the regular lessons in a separate room
  • integrative during regular lessons. This form of teaching is in the form of teaching group lessons ( team teaching held). This means that the class teacher organizes the lessons together with the mother tongue teacher.
  • to be held in the form of additional lessons in the afternoon.

Teachers in Vienna prefer the form of "team teaching". In the other Austrian federal states, mother tongue lessons usually take place in the afternoon, which makes contact and cooperation with the class teacher more difficult.

classroom language

Dealing with the bilingualism of children in school due to migration depends on the prestige of the language and the group of speakers in the country.

Monolingual instruction in the mother tongue of migrant children

This model leads to segregation and therefore cannot be viewed as a possibility in terms of integration . For this reason, this variant is only suitable if you are about to return to your country of origin.

Monolingual instruction in the second language

In this type of teaching, the mother tongues of students with a migration background are hardly taken into account. Since many immigrant children often have little or no knowledge of the national language, teaching only in the second language often results in excessive demands on the students. This variant is often referred to as the "assimilation program".

Initial lessons in the mother tongue with the aim of teaching the second language

This option, also known as the “transition model”, addresses migrant children in their special linguistic situation. The mother tongue is used more as a means to an end, as it is primarily about learning the second language as well as possible and promoting cognitive development in order to be able to follow the regular lessons in all subjects without language problems. This is a compensatory program, as the aim here is to compensate for disadvantages due to a mother tongue other than German.

However, equal opportunities cannot be achieved in this way.

Balanced bilingual teaching

In this variant, both languages ​​are used for teaching in all subjects. In the first years of school , the pupils' mother tongue is used almost exclusively as the language of instruction and the transition to the second language as the language of instruction is postponed for a long time. Thus literacy also takes place in the mother tongue. The aim is to achieve a balanced bilingualism among the students. The prerequisite for this variant is that the classes are linguistically homogeneous, i.e. all students have the same mother tongue. This in turn leads to a segregation of the pupils from children and adolescents with a different mother tongue.

Mother tongue support in Austria


The current regulation of mother tongue support and "German as a second language" teaching is based on the revision of the curriculum from 1992. It also established intercultural learning as a teaching principle.

"German as a Second Language" (DaZ)

This subject is designed to promote the German language skills of students with a non-German mother tongue who have attended an Austrian school for up to six years. The aim is to learn the German language as quickly as possible in order to be able to follow the regular lessons quickly. The lessons are supported by extracurricular offers such as tutoring, summer courses and pre-school preparatory groups. The lessons are not structured according to school level, but according to language competence and can take place in parallel , integratively or in the form of a course .

  • In compulsory schools (elementary schools, special schools, secondary schools and polytechnic schools) a total of up to twelve hours per week are provided for lessons.
  • In AHS , lessons in “German as a Second Language” are only given as an optional subject or as a non-binding exercise. In addition, no additional teachers can be employed, but existing teachers must be used, which limits the possibilities for DaZ lessons.

A cooperation between the teachers of the DaZ lessons and the teachers of the mother tongue lessons is possible, but not stipulated in the curriculum. It depends on the commitment of the teachers involved to give their students the best possible support.

Mother tongue lessons

Mother tongue lessons, i.e. lessons to promote language skills in the mother tongue, are open to all students with a non-German mother tongue or bilingual students regardless of their citizenship . The number of years of school attendance is not relevant here. According to the law, the development, development and consolidation of bilingualism, personality and identity formation are the primary goals of promoting mother tongue.

  • In elementary schools , lessons in the mother tongue are offered as non-binding exercises (i.e. without grading) for two to six hours per week.
  • In secondary schools , the number of hours is the same as in elementary schools, but this is an optional subject that is also graded.
  • In polytechnic schools , mother tongue lessons are also offered as an optional subject or as a non-binding exercise .
  • In AHS lower levels , mother tongue lessons are also offered as an optional subject or as a non-binding exercise of eight to twelve hours over the course of four years. (That means about two to five hours per week.)
  • In AHS upper levels and BMS or BHS (Vocational Middle and Higher Schools) there is no curriculum for mother tongue lessons. The possibility of such a lesson can only be offered independently of the school.
Teaching materials

As part of the limit regulation, in addition to the other textbooks, € 14.67 is available for textbooks for teaching “German as a second language” and mother tongue teaching per school year, pupil and subject. Bilingual dictionaries can be obtained once per student and are paid for from an extra budget. A list of recommended teaching materials can be obtained from the Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture.

Mother tongue teachers and problems

Teachers for mother tongue lessons must have completed a teaching degree in their home country or in Austria. They are employed and paid for by the Austrian school authorities. Payment depends on whether the training is recognized in Austria, which is often not the case, or whether the teachers are only "admitted to lessons". The teachers often experience this situation as discriminatory, as they usually already have a lot of practical experience when they start working as a native language teacher in Austria. In addition, they usually only get contracts for one year, as the occurrence of the lessons in the next year cannot be guaranteed , which means that no long-term future planning is possible. Native language teachers are also often not integrated into the teaching staff, as in many places their classes take place in the afternoon and in some federal states they have to look after students from up to six schools. For these reasons, many native language teachers feel discriminated against their Austrian colleagues and would like the situation to improve.


On the part of education politicians, it is true that the "literacy" of students whose mother tongue is not German should first take place in their mother tongue, but this is hardly possible in two hours a week, for example. A discrepancy between the stated goals and the actual possibilities can thus be seen here. Mother tongue lessons in Austria are only listed as “optional subjects” or “non-binding exercises”. The disadvantage of this classification of lessons is that a large number of 12–15 students are required for a course to take place. Furthermore, mother tongue tuition cannot be guaranteed in this way for several years. Although it is possible for pupils to attend a course at another school if there is no mother tongue instruction in their own school, this is often problematic in practice or, e.g. B. due to too great a spatial distance, impossible. Overall, it is worrying that throughout Austria only 29% of all pupils with a first language other than German attend native-language lessons in elementary school, although this is still the type of school in which native language support is most practiced. In a comparison of federal states, Vienna comes off best with almost 35%, while Burgenland comes in last with 1.9%. These figures show that in the area of ​​mother tongue support, many goals have not yet been implemented in order to offer pupils with a migration background better educational opportunities and, consequently, opportunities in the labor market .

In which languages ​​do mother tongue lessons take place?

According to the Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, in the 2005/06 school year most pupils (almost 11,900 across Austria) received Turkish lessons with non-German mother tongues. With the exception of Carinthia , these classes took place in all nine federal states, with more than half of the Turkish-speaking students being taught in Vienna.

The second largest group of native-speaking students (almost 11 200 students across Austria) took part in BKS lessons. This involves teaching the languages ​​Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian together. BKS is also the only class that took place in all federal states. Albanian lessons were given a little over 1,300 pupils across Austria in 2005/06, making it the third largest group. In addition, Polish, Arabic, Persian, Russian, Romanian, Chinese, Hungarian, Romany, Chechen, Bulgarian, Spanish, Slovak and Italian were taught. However, many of these languages ​​were only taught in one to a maximum of four federal states.

Mother tongue support in Germany

Language of origin lessons in North Rhine-Westphalia

The general education schools of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia offer lessons in the most widely spoken native languages ​​for immigrant children. These include: Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, Kurdish, Macedonian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish and Turkish.

The lessons include up to 5 hours per week. The prerequisite is a group size of at least 15 children in the primary level and 18 children in the secondary level I. Most of the time, lessons take place in the afternoon and the study groups include children from several schools in order to ensure that the group size is sufficient. In the upper level of the gymnasium, lessons can be continued up to the Abitur.

See also


  • Rudolf de Cillia: Language acquisition in migration . In: Federal Ministry for Education and Women, Department for Migration and School (Hrsg.): Information sheets of the Department for Migration and School . No. 3 / 2014-15, Vienna 2014.
  • Barbara Leichtfried: Native language support as the key to social mobility. How far do the scientific findings regarding the bilingualism of migrant children find their way into Austrian school policy? Diploma thesis in the field of German Philology, University of Vienna, 2003.
  • Nathalie Pallavicini: Inventory of the current situation of primary school children with a non-German mother tongue in the state of Vorarlberg . Diploma thesis in the field of linguistics, University of Vienna, 2004.
  • Dilek Cinar (Ed.): Equivalent Languages? Native language classes for the children of immigrants. Research report of the Federal Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs . Studienverlag, Innsbruck 1998.
  • Wassilios E. Fthenakis et al. a .: Bilingual and bicultural development of the child. A handbook for psychologists, educators, and linguists . Hueber Verlag, Munich 1985.
  • Federal Ministry for Education and Women, Department for Migration and School (Ed.): Pupils with first languages ​​other than German. Statistical overview of the school years 2006/07 to 2012/13 . In: Information sheets from the Department for Migration and Schools . No. 2 / 2013-14, Vienna 2014.
  • Federal Ministry for Education and Women, Department for Migration and School (Ed.): Excerpt from the school book list for the school year 2014/15: German as a second language, mother tongue lessons, bilingual dictionaries for mother tongue lessons . In: Information sheets from the Department for Migration and Schools . No. 4 / 2013-14, Vienna 2014.
  • Ines Garnitschnig: Mother tongue teaching in Austria: Statistical analysis for the school year 2012/13 . In: Federal Ministry for Education and Women, Department for Migration and School (Hrsg.): Information sheets of the Department for Migration and School . No. 5 / 2013-14, Vienna 2014.

Individual evidence

  1. See de Cillia 2014.
  2. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 29.
  3. See de Cillia 2014, p. 7.
  4. See Rainer Bauböck: Sociopolitical objectives of mother tongue teaching . In: Cinar 1998, pp. 289-320.
  5. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 52.
  6. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 64.
  7. See Fthenakis et al. a. 1985.
  8. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 86f.
  9. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 59 ff.
  10. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 61.
  11. See Leichtfried 2003, pp. 62f.
  12. See information sheet No. 4 of the Department for Migration and Schools.
  13. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 66f.
  14. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 62.
  15. See Leichtfried 2003, p. 63.
  16. ^ Theodora Manolakos: The mother tongue teaching in Austria. Statistical evaluation 2005/06 . In: Information sheets of the department for intercultural learning . No. 5/2006, Vienna 2006, p. 25. (The data refer to the school year 2005/06.)
  17. Abbreviations: VS = Volksschule / HS = Hauptschule / SO = Sonderschule / PTS = Polytechnische Schule / AHS = Grammar Schools = Gymnasium.
  18. ^ Theodora Manolakos: The mother tongue teaching in Austria. Statistical evaluation 2005/06 . In: Information sheets of the department for intercultural learning . No. 5/2006, Vienna 2006, p. 12. (The data refer to the school year 2005/06.)
  20. a b