The research area Language Development & Multilingualism investigates the development of linguistic competence in different speaker groups during their entire life spans. Our research focuses on language acquisition in pre-school and primary school aged monolingual and multilingual children. One focus is on early, uncontrolled language acquisition as it occurs in families who speak several languages at home, and controlled second language acquisition, such as that received through language support in kindergarten.
Based on empirical data, we present the general developmental processes in different languages of origin as well as in German, the language of education. We investigate the influence of individual factors such as education, social environment, etc. on language development. We investigate both lexical and grammatical language acquisition as well as the acquisition of narrative skills, which together form the basis for participation in social discourse. The researchers in this field contribute to the development of tools for multilingual language surveys.
The research area had coordinated the development of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN) and leads a worldwide research network using this instrument. Linguists, psychologists, pedagogues, health professionals and computer scientists are involved in this research.