Cross-linguistic transfer of academic language in multilingual adolescents*

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Competence in the academic register of the language of instruction is a fairly solid indicator for the educational success of migrant pupils. The present article addresses the role of family languages for academic language performance in German, aiming at pinpointing linguistic features of this register in the phase of later language development and at identifying possible predictors for academic language performance of multilingual speakers. Based on written samples from 94 Turkish/German and Russian/German bilingual adolescents, OLS regression analyses were conducted to find adequate predictors for variation in academic language performance. The results suggest the relevance of productive written skills in the family languages in predicting German academic language performance of multilingual adolescents. In contrast, measures of socio-economic status and working memory skills seem to predict less strongly.


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