This research project aims to investigate why students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who also speak German as an additional language, struggle in English language education in Austria. It is a unique and extensive study that requires using new and established methods to gain fresh insights into teachers’ beliefs about multilingualism and their students’ backgrounds and behaviors. These factors play a role in their success in English language learning.
The research findings will enhance our understanding of how educational disadvantages are created and sustained in English language education. This study addresses a significant challenge faced by educational systems in the region: how to promote foreign language learning, specifically English, while simultaneously supporting students’ learning in the language of education, which is German, as well as their home languages. This challenge is particularly relevant in a context of increasing cultural and linguistic diversity.
The perspectives adopted and the evidence generated through this research will provide a unique foundation for making sustainable recommendations to address underperformance in English language education in Austria and beyond.