MLex (Englisch)

The multilingual lexicon of pupils with a migrant background and German as a second language at primary schools in Lower Saxony, Germany (MLex)

MLex (German)

MLex (Russian)

MLex (Turkish)


Project Duration: 01.12.2013 – 28.02.2017

Funded by: Ministry of Education of Lower Saxony, Germany

Photo: Isa Lange/Uni Hildesheim

Vocabulary size is a predictor of language and literacy competences (cf. e.g. Lee 2011 for the English language). Despite the launch of numerous initiatives in educational research in Germany in recent years, only little data is available on the vocabulary deficits and strengths of pupils with a migrant background and German as a second language.

The topic of the MLex research project is children’s vocabulary acquisition. This is investigated by analysing the multilingual lexicon (breadth) of a test taken by Russian/German and Turkish/German-speaking primary school pupils (aged 6 to 10) in both languages. A standardised method was used, which was normalised from a monolingual German-speaking sample (WWT 6-10, Glück 2011). The approach is inclusive, focusing not only on the diagnosis of specific educational needs but also on more general needs. The research addresses whether:

a) a specific normalisation is required for multilingual subjects;

Photo: Isa Lange/Uni Hildesheim

b) there are deviations from the monolingual norm sample; if this is the case, then the nature of such deviations should be explored, paying particular attention to whether there is trend for bilingual speakers to exhibit reduced vocabulary in one language or a wider range of vocabulary in all languages than their monolingual peers;

c) ability levels between monolingual and multilingual samples change over the course of four years of primary school, i.e. whether school “helps” or “polarises;” and

d) the variables “duration of language exposure” and “multilingualism” have a greater impact on vocabulary when the local language is German; the hypothesis is that exposure to one language over a period of three years has no impact, whereas the promotion of both languages has a consistently positive impact.

Invited Talks

ISB 11, Limerick, Ireland

12.-15. June 2017

Symposium: Akinci, Ertek (U Rouen), Treffers-Daller, Daller (U Reading), Montanari, Graßer, Abel Tschudinovski


10th workshop Children and Adolescents with Migrant Background, PH Karlsruhe, Germany

21‒22 November 2014

Montanari: MLex: Multilingual Lexicon Acquisition


17th International Conference on Turkish Linguistics (ICTL '17), Rouen, France

3‒5 September 2014

Montanari: Testing the Multilingual Lexicon


Final conference of the LiMa project, University of Hamburg, Germany

10‒12 October 2013

Montanari: Testing the Multilingual Lexicon


Professor PhD Elke Montanari

Universität Hildesheim

German Linguistics and Literature

Barbara Graßer, M.A. (linguistics)

E-mail: grasserb[at]


Roman Abel, M.Sc. (statistics)

E-mail: abelro[at]


Lilia Tschudinovski, M.A. (German as L2)