Learning the Language of Instruction in Monolingual Countries: A Mixed Methods Comparative Study on Newly Arrived Migrant Students in Turkey and Germany

In my doctoral dissertation research, I investigated organization of destination language support for newly arrived migrant students in monolingual school contexts and explored contextual factors determining their language proficiency. İstanbul and Hamburg were illustrative cases. Drawing on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, the study focused on students in lower-secondary education through a four-phase mixed methods convergent comparative design. Data were collected through interviews, classroom observations, and survey instruments. Employing a multiple case study design, the qualitative phase included 78 participants involving students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and key informants as well as fieldnote data collected during 35 hours of classroom observations. The quantitative phase adopted an associational design with a sample of 245 newly arrived migrant students in İstanbul and 189 in Hamburg. Regression analyses were used to address the quantitative research questions.

The findings revealed the nested structure surrounding the language learning as well as its interplay with the super-diverse learner characteristics. Regardless of the integration experience and available resources in the receiving contexts, the findings exposed the intricate and interconnected nature of destination language organization. The super-diverse migration-related learner characteristics and family language proficiency yielded significant direct influence on students’ language proficiency. Family involvement in education and formal learning environment did not exert any direct impact. Contrary to deficit perspective attached to migrant families, they contributed to students’ language proficiency when they had higher language proficiency and education levels. The overall results concluded a need for a comprehensive approach requiring deliberate interventions in several areas beyond instructional interventions to address the language needs of newly arrived migrant students in monolingual school contexts.