Lisa RosenFenna tom Dieck

'Can I tell my class teacher?' Newly arrived youth between language support measures and regular classes in the contemporary German school system


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This article sheds light on school practices in the context of new and forced migration in the aftermath of the 'long summer ofmigration' (Römhild, Schwanhäuser, zur Nieden & Yurdakul, 2018) in Germany. Its research interest is inspired by the historical situations of school exclusion and segregation among newly arrived and refugee youth (Crul, 2017; Koehler, 2017) and by the state ofresearch on so-called preparatory classes (for the separation principle in education: see Terhart & Dewitz, 2018, p. 294). In contrast, using an ethnographic research approach (Atkinson, 2015), we focus on the partial integration principle in education at an urban upper secondary school ('Gymnasium') in North Rhine-Westphalia. On the basis of participant observations (Boccagni & Schrooten, 2018), we investigate a research question conceming the ways in which newcomers are addressed by language support teachers in the 'in-between' context that bridges preparatory and regular classes, and how newly arrived and refugee youth do respond and position themselves with respect to these ways of being addressed. By means of a Grounded Theory analysis (Charmaz, 2014), we show, on the one hand, that newly arrived youth interactively emerge as 'other' students and are addressed as a homogeneous group to which refugee experiences are collectively attributed. On the other hand, these teenagers seem to see themselves as students in regular classes and not primarily as students undergoing language support measures, and they seem to prioritize the requirements of the regular classes. In conclusion, we discuss the extent to which these instances of being addressed as deviant and irregular students as weil as students' self-positioning within this context can be understood as a continuation of existing educational inequalities in Germany (see Auernheimer, 2013 with regard to migration and Emmerich, Hormel, Jording & Massumi, 2020 with regard to new and forced migration) at the microlevel of individual schools.