Christoph Gantefort

Academic and everyday language proficiency among educationally disadvantaged pupils



The article presents a study on the influence of second language acquisition and familial background on language proficiency in a school-based register. Based on a sample of ninth-graders attending a German Hauptschule, the relationship of academic and everyday vocabulary in written language is examined by means of t-tests and regression analyses. Results indicate a considerable impact of both home-literacy environment and second language acquisition on the use of academic vocabulary. However, no influence of these factors on the use of everyday vocabulary in writing was found. This suggests the expansion of the concept of ‘concealed language difficulties’ (Knapp, 1999) of pupils acquiring the language of instruction as a second language, since an imbalance of everyday and academic language proficiency can affect monolingual pupils as well. Implications for practice concern language assessment and support, as a need for specific promotion of the academic register is not solely tied to second language acquisition.