Vesna Ilić

Home-literacy practices and academic language skills of migrant pupils



The main objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between home-literacy activities and other literacy-related practices, including oral activities, such as parent-child interaction and communication in leisure time, and the academic language skills of adolescent pupils with an immigrant background. The study involved 164 adolescent pupils with and 190 adolescent pupils without an immigrant background from schools in Hamburg, Germany. Information concerning students’ language practices and home-literacy activities was collected via questionnaire. A validated language test was used to assess pupils’ productive academic language skills in German. This article describes the migrant pupils’ reported language use during literacy-related and oral activities. The results show that multilingual practices during various activities are usual in migrant pupils’ lives, but that different languages assume different functions: the home language seems to be important for interaction with parents on family issues and migration-specific subjects, while German is used more in literacy activities (e.g. reading) and literacy-orientated issues (e.g. discussing social issues). However, the relationship between home-literacy practices and academic language skills requires further analysis.