The long-term BIVEM study was carried out from 2012 to 2016. 160 bilingual children from more than 20 day-care centres in Berlin took part. We investigated the effectiveness of different language support measures begun at very early age of 2 – 3 years on the language development of multilingual children. The children’s home languages were Russian and Turkish. Further we investigated whether additive language support measures differ in their effectiveness from integrative ones. In the additive approach, the children were supported outside their group association in small groups by external language support staff (BIVEM employees). In the integrative approach, the educators received an additional training, so that they could provide language support to children throughout the whole day. In the control group, the children did not receive any further language support measures within the framework of the study. They were not excluded from the language support (if any available) practiced in their institution.
The study consisted of three cycles, each including an intervention phase and a test phase. The level of language proficiency was tested in both languages after each intervention phase whereas the areas of lexicon, syntax, morphology and narrative skills were examined.

Focal points of the investigation:

  • Effectiveness of different language support measures (additive vs. integrative)
  • Influence of age of onset, length of exposure and home language
  • Influence of age at the beginning of language support measures
  • Differences in language development between monolingual and bilingual children

More information about the study and results can be found in our interim report (under Downloads), the Posters and Publications.


As part of the Interdisziplinärer Forschungsverbund (IFV): Sprachentwicklung von Grundschulkindern mit Migrationshintergrund (Interdisciplinary Research Network: Language Development of Primary School Children with a Migration Background), a long-term study is being conducted from 2016 to 2021 on the acquisition of reading and writing skills in German among primary school children. More than 300 children take part in the study. The group is comprised of children with different home languages, German monolingual children and children from the BIVEM study, whose linguistic development was previously studied over the course of several years during kindergarten. The integration of children from the BIVEM study offers a unique opportunity to follow and investigate the language development from early kindergarten up to primary school level of Russian-German or Turkish-German bilingual children. The IFV study, which is carried out in primary schools, focuses on the acquisition and development of written language and on indicators pointing to possible problems in the field of written language acquisition. These will be identified on the basis of results from earlier phases of language development (e.g. narrative skills). The participants in the study are tested in grades 1–3 at the end of each school year in German. The BIVEM children are additionally tested in Russian and Turkish.

Focal points of the investigation:

  • Factors that may influence the acquisition of literacy skills in bilingual children
  • Long-term predictors for reading and writing skills
  • Long-term effects of language support measures in kindergarten on the acquisition of reading and writing skills in school

More information about the study and first results can be found in our preliminary report (under Downloads) and the Posters.