This paper had two aims: a) to provide a review of studies investigating how children with migration backgrounds perform in tests examining their skills in the majority language of a country as well as their skills in a 3rd language learnt either in regular language-as-subjects lessons or in bilingual programmes such as those following the immersion approach, and b) to present the results of a pilot study investigating how primary school children with and without migration backgrounds enrolled in a partial immersion programme in Germany performed in tests examining their skills in the ambient language German and in the immersion language English. The review of previous research suggested that compared to children without a migration back-ground, children with a migration background living in Germany often achieve relatively poor results in studies examining their skills in the ambient language German. In studies examining migrant children’s skills in a new language such as English learnt in foreign language classrooms or in a bilingual secondary school setting, students with migrant backgrounds have, on the other hand, sometimes been found to perform equally well as or even better than students without a migration back-ground. However, there is a paucity of studies examining migrant children’s academic achievement in primary schools with bilingual programmes. The pilot study pre-sented here examined children in primary grades 1 to 4 who were enrolled in a partial immersion programme in Germany and who participated in tests examining their cognitive abilities, their literacy skills in the ambient language German and the immersion language English as well as their comprehension of English vocabulary and grammar. The results obtained in the different tests suggest that primary school immersion programmes may not only be suitable for children without, but also for children with migration backgrounds, including children with migration back-grounds whose parents are less inclined to education.
© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston