During the first wave of our survey we interviewed participants at the beginning of the integration course in module 1 or in early module 2. The survey was conducted between the end of September and the end of October 2016. The first survey took place in 42 general integration courses and was supported by thirteen course providers in Baden-Württemberg (3), Bavaria (5), Hesse (2), North Rhine-Westphalia (2) and Saxony (1).

The first wave of our survey was provided to our participants in the following sixteen languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, German, English, French, Greek, Italian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Persian, Polish, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Tigrinya and Hungarian. With few exceptions, participants preferred taking the survey in a language other than German so that most data had to eventually be translated back into German.

Overall there were 606 participants in our survey, 305 of them were refugees and 301 were migrants with other motives (control group). Depending on the research questions, our publications present results pertaining to the refugees in our sample or draw a comparison between the two participant groups.

The goals of our first survey wave were:

  • to gather sociodemographic data and to relate it to information on language repertoires and speaker self evaluations.
  • to delineate language biographies and to discuss possible generalizations for a few subgroups of refugees.
  • to discuss new participant groups in the integration courses that can be identified socially and linguistically, and to point out possible needs of these groups.
  • to collect data documenting the social situation of course participants in Germany and to relate it to data on the acquisition of German and the usage of English in Germany.
  • to make participants familiar with the recording situation and with our audio recording format, thereby creating a reference point for a performance test to be conducted in the second survey.

Remarks on the survey questions

The first survey consisted of four parts:

Part 1: The first part was concerned with different phases of life and linked sociodemographic questions to questions on language acquisition, in order to create visualizations of language biographies.

Part 2: Participants were asked to provide self-evaluations in the different languages they listed. They had to estimate the frequency with which the listed languages were used at different times in their lives. They also had to rate their abilities in the listed languages.

Part 3: This part was concerned with the social situation in Germany and the use of German or English in the present situation.

Part 4: A head-set recording in the native language of participants was followed by a recording in German and a number of questions regarding the integration course and the difficulty of our survey. The survey ended with an open field allowing participants to comment on how they imagined their future in Germany.

Of the 207 questions that were programmed in an app and presented on portable tablets, a minimum of 40 and a maximum of 190 questions had to be answered. Depending on the logic underlying certain sequential questions, participants had to answer more or less questions. On average, participants spent around 30-40 minutes completing the survey.

Map of participants

The map below was created by Christian Lang using the app Shiny. It is based on anonymized data detailing the origins of all 606 participants in our first survey (refugees and other migrants). It also includes information on significant layovers in other countries along the migration route to Germany. You can find a description and directions on how to use the interactive map in the lower left corner of the frame by clicking on the information box .

Collective language biographies (special issue Deutsche Sprache, September 2018)

The graphs below by Sascha Wolfer show the most frequent languages acquired by Syrians in our survey throughout their life time. Although the graphs visualize a linear relationship between these languages and certain stages of acquisition, it should not be understood chronologically.

Cluster analysis (special issue Deutsche Sprache, September 2018)

The goal of the cluster analysis in the special issue on our project in Deutsche Sprache (September 2018) is to describe distinctive participant groups among the 305 refugees in our survey based on socially and linguistically relevant aspects. The following flash animation combines different results of the analysis.

The following numeric factors were included in the analysis: (1) age, (2) years of education, (3) duration of stay in Germany, (4) number of jobs before arriving in Germany, (5) number of countries in which there was a significant stay (before coming to Germany), (6) number of first languages, (7) number of foreign languages in school, (8) number of languages, that were used at work, and (9) number of all languages indicated in the survey.

The dendrogram is based on the algorithm "Ward" using euclidean distance. Other algorhitms led to similar grouping behavior, which is why we only present a single dendrogram here with different coloring criteria for the individual participants (, i. e. "leaves" of the dendrogram).

The following information is being presented in different color codings:

  • country of origin
  • age
  • years of education
  • type of degree
  • work experience
  • number of all languages
  • number of languages with a "good production" (self assessment, oral & written)

The animation can be viewed in full screen mode. The legends to the right contain more information on the color coding of each factor.