Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #862

Speaking the Same Language – The Effect of Foreign Origin Teachers on Students’ Language Skills

by Lisa Sofie Höckel

RWI, 08/2020, 50 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-999-5 DOI: 10.4419/86788999



This study investigates whether foreign origin teachers causally affect their students language skills in
secondary school. Exploring within-student variation in assignment to teachers, I find that teachers who
are immigrants or descendants of immigrants significantly increase the reading comprehension of students. The effect is strongest for foreign origin students and can partly be explained by a role model effect. The positive effect of bilingual foreign origin teachers is particularly large. They significantly increase reading comprehension for native and foreign origin students. Given their own experience in language learning, bilingual teachers seem exceptionally well-equipped in teaching languages to both native and foreign origin students.

JEL-Classification: J13, J15, I24

Keywords: Academic achievement; education economics; language skills; matching; migration; role model effect; teacher bias effect