Influence of Content-learning in Preparation Classes on Integration Perspectives of International Students

  • Mario Schmiedebach Bielefeld University
  • Claas Wegner Bielefeld University
Keywords: Immigrant students, integration, science education, “Biology for Everyone”, preparation classes, content-learning, CLIL, second language learning, second language motivation, Germany, secondary school


New students arriving from different countries present a challenge to the school system as language barriers prevent them from immediately integrating into regular classes. These students are often enrolled in “international classes” before being placed with fellow classmates. The project “Biology for Everyone” teaches science to students entering the German school system through the use of action-oriented learning, which helps to increase content-knowledge and build up language structures. The concomitant research examines this process in international classes using 17 interviews and the students’ transition using Mayring’s qualitative content analysis. Results show that students value the help of content-learning material as it encourages them to participate. Moreover, action-oriented tasks help them understand science before learning the specific vocabulary that is needed to talk about science. Additionally, the importance of providing a safe environment with a good support structure is crucial as students often describe language-use anxiety and negative experiences in their regular class.

Author Biographies

Mario Schmiedebach, Bielefeld University

Mario Schmiedebach earned a Master of Education for biology and math at Bielefeld University, Germany. He is currently a PhD student in the Department for Didactics of Biology at Bielefeld University and his main study interest is the integration of content and language in the science classroom in order to foster language acquisition. During his PhD he teaches science to recently immigrated students at two secondary schools in Bielefeld as part of his project “Biology for Everyone”.

Claas Wegner, Bielefeld University

Dr. Claas Wegner is professor at Bielefeld University, Germany, in the Department for Didactics of Biology and a teacher for biology and PE at a secondary school. He is founder of the projects “Kolumbus-Kids” and “Biology up close”. His research focuses on gifted students in science education and he is head of the just recently founded Osthushenrich center for giftedness (OZHB) at Bielefeld University.