Literacy in Diversity Settings – Language and Education in the 21st Century
Linguistic diversity is a defining feature of differentiated societies. Factors like
- social differentiation,
- the structure of immigration,
- internationalization and global interdependence of economy or
- the development of communication media that allow communication free of the traditional limits place and time
are responsible for the increase of diversity in (written) language skills within the German society.
Further facets of linguistic diversity stem from individual learning and living circumstances. One example is deafness, which prompts the development of non-oral forms of communication.
The interdependence between a person's literal skills and his/her integration into the job market is usually substantial. This is paricularly evident for persons with special living conditions, like those with a hearing impairment, or persons with poorly developed writing skills. In this key research area, we look at both similarities and differences in the conditional structure of diverse life circumstances and examine their consequences for the development of literacy.
The term "literacy" comprises the concept of basic education. Thus, it implies conveying and acquiring skills that facilitate an informed, self-determined social participation and a fulfilled life. Literacy in this sense includes not only linguistic competences in the narrower sense, but also the ability to understand information from other areas and to form opinions about it. The development of such literacy starts in preschool education and does not end with graduation, but continues in the vocational or tertiary system („vocational “or „academic literacy“). Research in this key area is therefore based on the concept of lifelong learning and includes (basic) education from early childhood to adulthood.
The key area examines language as a cultural asset and means of communication, which is the conditio sine qua non for shaping society in a sustainable way. We identify relevant benefits that education generates – or not – in the context of diversity in order to acquire the necessary linguistic abilities.
The common main question of this key research area is: „How does sustainable language education succed in the context of diversity?" The scientific goal consists in identifying the consequences of diversity that are relevant for education in order to generate fundamental insights into education in the 21st century, on the one hand, and in offering a scientifically sound basis to organise educational practices, on the other hand.
Current projects of this area explore the connection between multilingualism and language development in secondary school (e.g. the project Mehrsprachigkeitsentwicklung im Zeitverlauf), between multilingualism and education (e.g. coordination of the main research topic „Linguistic education and multilingualism“ or the project EvaFa - Evaluation der Sprachförderung im Fachunterricht der SekundarstufeI), study literacy in adulthood and didactical approaches to the acquisition of basic reading and spelling competences. Further projects examine questions of linguistic education under disadvantaged and impaired conditions (e.g. Bimodal bilingual language acquisition and processing - spoken and sign language).
This key area's projects on multilingualism and education cooperate with the major research topic "linguistic diversity" of the Faculty of Humanities.