Background: A physical education (PE) intervention for young refugees was designed combining physical activity within the context of primary PE games with second language learning activities in German. The intervention was based on theoretical implications from the field of second language acquisition and evidence for positive effects of physical activity on cognitive outcomes (e.g. language acquisition). The aim of this study was to analyze short term effects on second language acquisition. Methods: Sixty-one young refugees were included in the study (age: 8.5 ± 1.4 years). The intervention group participated in language-enriched PE lessons based on an elaborated approach to second language learning acquisition. The control group did not receive any treatment. Both groups were pre-and post-tested in domain specific vocabulary, listening comprehension and use of local prepositions within the context of primary PE games. Results: Results from linear mixed-effect modelling suggest that the intervention group significantly improved domain specific vocabulary and listening comprehension in comparison to the control group. Conclusions: The intervention was successful since the PE lessons contributed to the second language acquisition of young refugees. Therefore, this learning approach might also be useful for physical activity based second language learning activities in other PE contexts for early second language learners in primary school.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203664
ISSN: 1932-6203