Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #783

Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom, Student Achievement, and Social Integration

by Julia Bredtmann, Sebastian Otten and Christina Vonnahme

RUB, RWI, 12/2018, 37 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-911-7 DOI:



In this article, we analyze whether non-native speakers in the classroom affect the
educational achievement and social integration of migrant and native students. In
contrast to previous studies, which mainly examine the effect of the share of immigrant
pupils, we focus on language heterogeneity by using a novel measure of the degree of
linguistic diversity in the classroom. Our analysis is based on a comprehensive survey
of 4th-grade students in German primary schools, which contains detailed information
on students’ language and math scores, their social integration, as well as on
sociodemographic and school characteristics. We find a negative association between
the share of non-native speakers in the classroom and students’ test scores and their
social integration in the class. Conditional on the immigrant concentration in the class,
the degree of linguistic diversity has no adverse effect on students’ language and math
skills, but worsens the social integration of immigrant students. We demonstrate the
robustness of these findings in a variety of robustness checks.

JEL-Classification: I21, I24, J15

Keywords: Linguistic diversity; educational performance; social integration; migrant peer effects