Educational and (psycho-)linguistic research on L1 and L2 acquisition in bilingual children sketches them as a group of language learners varying in many aspects. However, most studies to date have based evaluations of language proficiency or new assessment tools on data from heritage children, while studies on the appropriateness of assessment tools for school-age refugee children remain a notable exception. This study focuses on the standardized assessment tool BUEGA for primary school children, which is, among others, a widespread tool for the assessment of pedagogical support or special needs (SN) in Germany. We compare the performance of 12 typically developing monolinguals (MoTD: 7;3–12;1), 14 heritage-bilinguals (BiTD: 7;1–13;4, L1 Turkish and Arabic), 12 refugee-students (BiTD: 8;7–13;1, L1 Arabic), and 7 children with developmental language disorders (DLD: 7;7–13;9) on the subtests of grammar, word-reading, and spelling. Overall results show that refugee-BiTDs perform in the (monolingual) pathology range. No significant differences emerged between students with DLD and typically developing (TD) refugee students. Considering the assessment of school-related language performance, bilingual refugees are at risk of misdiagnosis, along with the well-known effects of educational disadvantage. This particularly applies to children with low socioeconomic status (SES). Looking beyond oral language competencies and using test combinations can help exclude language disorders in school-age children with limited L2 proficiency.

DOI: 10.3390/languages7010004
ISSN: 2226-471X