Monolingual? Internal multilingualism as an underestimated factor in subject teaching. A study on the promotion of communicative competence in biology classes

Presenter: Julia Weltgen

Affiliation: University of Bremen, Germany

Chosen format: Presentation


The term multilingualism is associated with the knowledge of different individual languages such as German and English. However, varieties also exist within a language, so that „a special form of multilingualism“ (Grinth 2007, 187) exists in the knowledge of a language alone. This so-called „inner multilingualism“ (ibid.) is characterized by the fact that a speaker has different possibilities of expression within a language, which exist on different linguistic levels. The variety aspect is composed of extra-linguistic dimensions, whereas the focus of this paper is on the so-called diastratic dimension, the group-specific variations such as technical language. In this context, this paper focuses on technical language in science classes at the upper level. According to the KMK’s specification for the subject biology for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife, it is expected that in the area of communication competence students „distinguish between everyday and technical language (…)“ (KMK 2020, 17). Accordingly, this formulation implies that learners acquire the technical language in the course of their school career and master it by the time they reach the Abitur. This is to be achieved through „language-sensitive subject teaching“ (Schmiedebach et al. 2020).

Using data from N = 44 students from an 11th grade class at a high school in Schleswig-Holstein, we will show the extent to which methods for promoting specialized language are effective. During an entire unit on photosynthesis, the students were divided into two groups, with only one group receiving the additional methodological support. In addition to the data on the previous knowledge, which was collected by a test, self-evaluations of the learners, which they filled out after each lesson, as well as test results of a test at the end of the unit are available.



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KMK (2020) Beschluss der Kultusministerkonferenz vom 18.06.2020: Bildungsstandards im Fach Biologie für die allgemeine Hochschulreife.

Schmiedebach, M., Baumgarth, Julia & Wegner, C. (2020) Sprachsensibler Biologieunterricht mit neuzugewanderten Schüler*innen. Dem Kleinsten auf der Spur – Arbeiten mit dem Mikroskop. In: BU praktisch 3(2)