DYME Projects

Logo of the DMMA

Our project is grounded in the field of applied linguistics, which focuses on all language-related problems in society and the solutions language theory can offer. Dynamic model of Multilingualism Assessment (DMMA) investigates the development of assessment criteria for multilingual development and multicompetence from a complexity and dynamic systems theoretical perspective (CDST), primarily based on the Dynamic Model of Multilingualism (DMM; Herdina & Jessner 2002).

As we argue that multilingualism refers to three or more languages, and the implementation of CDST principles is required the approach is highly innovative for its holistic perspective. By adding complexity in the assessment approach, we hope to improve fairness and equality for all children in the educational system in an increasingly globalized world. Therefore, our project is of interdisciplinary relevance for sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, speech therapy and education. 

Consequently, our main objective is to develop a set of tools that enables us to measure multilingual proficiency and multilingual development in the German speaking educational context (i.e., pre-school and primary school level). By using CDST based qualitative measures a comprehensive battery of criteria to assess both language and cognition related processes. This battery will include insights gained from interviews conducted with experts involved in testing language development in the German-speaking context.

Smart Cities – Speak Smart!

Photo of stakeholders
Logo of Speak Smart

Speak Smart! With "Neue Heimat Tirol"

Rethinking customer communication. NEUE HEIMAT TIROL is the initiator of the national research project "SPEAK SMART!". The project focusses on the self-competence of customers. The aim of the project was to work with linguistics and social psychology to transfer information about energy efficiency and sustainable lifestyles into a language that everyone can understand. Linguistic and cultural needs as well as the reality of life for residents in the NHT Smart Cities were taken into account in a special way. The NHT is currently involved in two international and seven national research projects.

Intelligent communication in the living space

SPEAK SMART ! – Intelligent cities through intelligent communication – has set itself the goal of optimising communication between housing developers (such as NHT, GSWB) and housing allocation bodies (IBK) as well as energy advice centres (ET) as an important component of the functionality of future smart cities. The linguistic and cultural needs as well as the realities of life of the future residents of our smart cities will thus be better taken into account. Vulnerable groups, such as people with a highly disadvantaged socio-economic background, children and young people as well as migrants from different generations who are unable to participate in social processes to the same extent, will be given special consideration.

In addition to the current main focus on compensation measures, the necessary social change and paradigm shift are the real challenge facing our society in tackling the climate crisis. Users of efficient buildings have a major influence on actual energy consumption. The so-called "performance gap" between predicted energy demand and actual energy consumption is multiplied a thousandfold compared to the consideration of individual properties in the "Smart City" concept and can therefore no longer be ignored. The housing developer involved in the project has been constructing highly energy-efficient buildings and residential areas to the passive house standard since 2012. The consortium is aware that there is a "performance gap" and that this must be closed as far as possible in the future in order to achieve the climate protection targets defined at federal (Mission2030) and regional level (Tyrol 2050 energy self-sufficient ("energieautonom")).

"Living Labs"

The "Living Lab" approach enables the development of sustainable and adapted behavioural patterns in the sense of social innovation and these new social practices also enable the participation of vulnerable target groups in sustainable urban development. The previous concentration of research projects on purely technological aspects is being replaced for the first time by linking them with the necessary socio-psychological and linguistic aspects.

In our project, non-profit residential buildings served as "living labs" and formed the infrastructure for the implementation of research-led interventions aimed at the sustainable ecological behaviour of those involved in their natural socio-cultural environment. The result is a real-world research environment in which not only science, business and various organisations conduct joint research and development, but in which users themselves also play an active role in shaping the innovation processes. By linking the results of multilingualism and literacy research, socio-psychological research and the conclusions drawn about the resulting increase in the energy efficiency of inhabited buildings, measures for the development of basic knowledge, skills and abilities, which are identified as influencing factors of "community ecoliteracy", were developed.


The research results are made available as concrete guidelines for property developers, property management companies and housing authorities. The results include a practice-orientated communication model for administrators and residents, application examples, information material, technical recommendations for action, observation sheets for property managers and didactic material for teaching the content at secondary schools.

Mehrsprachig Ladinisch

(Multilingual Ladin)
Project duration:
2017 - 2019

Funding body: Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Department of Ladin Education and Culture, Trentino-Alto Adige Region

Total amount: 192,000 €

The research project

MELA stands for "Multilingual Ladin". It is a DyME research project that was carried out in Ladin kindergartens and, in the second part, in Ladin elementary school.

The aim of MELA was to investigate the linguistic and metalinguistic (including language reflection), sociopragmatic (including language switching behavior) and cognitive abilities (including creative behavior) of multilingual children in the Ladin valleys from a holistic perspective and to gain deeper insights into the speaking and thinking of children under complex multilingual conditions. The control group used in certain tasks came from St. Andrä (Eisacktal).

Selected results:   

  • The children's languages examined (Ladin, Italian, German) are differently well developed depending on the valley.
  • Ladin is and remains clearly the dominant language for the majority of children.
  • Language skills in Ladin are very good in both valleys and continue to develop steadily until the end of kindergarten.
  • There are regional differences in language management strategies. For example, language use in Val Gardena is more flexible, the children mix more, while in Val Badia they mix less and focus more on Ladin or Italian.
  • The role and function of dialects should be discussed more.
  • The more languages the children speak, the more flexible their thinking and linguistic behavior (variety of circumvention and paraphrasing strategies).

The training series:
Based on the kindergarten study and on the framework guidelines for Ladin kindergartens, DyME employees developed a training concept for kindergarten staff in the Ladin valleys. The results of the study were summarized in a concept of the "5 building blocks of comprehensive language education" (based on the original concept, see Allgäuer-Hackl et al. 2018) specifically formulated for the Ladin valleys and implemented as a training series. This will be completed in SS 2024.

The study was presented in Bolzano on August 9, 2023. The results met with great support from the South Tyrolean Provincial Council for Education and Culture.


"Die deutsche Angst" - Artikel im ff - Das Südtiroler Wochenmagazin

...including and interview with Prof. Ulrike Jessner-Schmid


Kontakt: MELA-Anglistik@uibk.ac.at

SPIEL mit Deutsch

The SPIEL (Sprachen im Elementarbereich/ Languages in pre-primary education) research project was dedicated to investigating and evaluating the language assessment tools used in practice to monitor the German-language development of children of kindergarten age in Tyrol, specifically BESK and BESK-DAZ.

The project, which was funded by the state of Tyrol with €300,000, was carried out by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Jessner-Schmid (Dyme research group, RECC "German & Multilingualism") from the Department of English Studies at the University of Innsbruck
and lasted 13 months. The results of the study were presented in November 2017.

Studies are regularly published that point to the inadequate linguistic preparation of children for everyday kindergarten life and lessons in the first years of school. This often affects children with a migration background, who usually have an increased need for language support. In view of current demographic and socio-political developments, this topic is particularly important and omnipresent. The results of the research project summarized the experiences of recent years and offers guidance for further development potential in the area of language support according to a multilingual and holistic research approach.

The research focus of the project was on the attitudes and preferences of teachers towards the BESK and BESK-DAZ language observation questionnaires, the use of their manual and the available supplementary material, as well as the analysis of selected aspects of the role of teachers' attitudes.

For example, it became apparent that BESK and BESK-DAZ are only reluctantly used by educational staff, as the instruments were often found to be too long and extensive, as well as time-consuming and difficult to integrate into everyday kindergarten life. It also became apparent that teachers are not well prepared for the language observation forms and that there is a desire for further training and adaptation of the forms to everyday kindergarten life. In addition, BESK-DaZ takes little account of the potential of multilingual children and provides little guidance for further measures to promote German. Ultimately, teachers' attitudes influence language observation and support. Pedagogical staff are also not sufficiently trained in multilingual net development and relevant methodology.

LAILA - short for Linguistic Awareness in Language Attriters - is a longitudinal research project that looks at how people remember and forget languages they have learned, and at how learning, remembering and forgetting languages changes how we think. The project is unique in its multilingual approach: rather than looking at the development of just one language, we look at several languages in interaction

Project homepage

LAILA-BICS receives funding 

The Laila-project received funding from the Province of South Tyrol. Congratulations!

LAILA-BICS - short for Linguistic Awareness in Language Attriters in Bilingual Contexts - is a longitudinal research project that looks at how people remember and forget languages they have learned, and at how learning, remembering and forgetting languages changes how we think. Our project is unique in its multilingual approach: rather than looking at the development of just one language, we look at several languages in interaction.

Project homepage


The MATEL project aims at promoting metalinguistic awareness (MLA) in different European languages through the Metalinguistic Awareness Tests (MATs), thus encouraging bilingual and multilingual education. Assessment of metalinguistic abilities (MLA) can be a precious resource for predicting achievement in a range of other abilities, from study skills in L1 to additional languages learning.

The project addresses two main objectives:

  1. Expanding and optimising the range of tests for assessing MLA at Middle School, High School and University level. Batteries of these tests already exist, validated in Italian language for subjects from childhood to adulthood. The project envisages the translation of MATs in German and their validation in Spanish and French.
  2. Creating educational materials for promoting MLA in these European languages. Didactic videos will be created on the basis of in-group discussions about selected items of the MATs under the guidance of an expert of MLA.

The project intends to promote a culture of MLA, viewed as a powerful means for accessing linguistic meanings at a deeper level, and for monitoring mutual understanding between interlocutors. According to this perspective, MLA is considered both as an outcome of bi/multilingualism, where ambiguities and conflicts between meanings are always latent, and as a significant predictor of additional languages learning, especially in complex multilingual settings.  

The use of the translated or validated MATs and of the didactic videos issued after the project’s completion can be disseminated mainly among: language teachers (L1, L2 , Ln….), who can exploit these abilities for developing adaptive interlinguistic strategies in a multilingual competence perspective; educational or clinical psychologists, researchers in applied linguistics, who will have tools based on common conceptual and psychometric grounds that can guarantee valid crosslinguistic comparisons. Well developed MLA in the framework of a multilingual curriculum will give students control over challenging situations, as it typically happens in multilingual European contexts.

An International Project

Five universities and research groups extremely well-known in the research field of the Metalinguistics are involved in the project, whereby four partners from Europe and one from Canada are included. The research team of the University of Granada and La Sapienza from Rome coordinate the project and Prof. Pinto is the project leader.  



This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication (communication) reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Co-funded by the European Commission of the European Union


Jessner, Ulrike; Hofer, Barbara; Pellegrini, Claudia; Pinto, Maria Antonietta (2015): The translation of the Italian metalinguistic ability tests TAM–2 and TAM–3 (Pinto, 1999) into the German MKT–2 (Jessner, Hofer, & Pinto 2015) and MKT–3 (Jessner, Pellegrini, Moroder, Hofer, & Pinto 2015). In: Rivista di Psicolinguistica Applicata: Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics 15/2, pp. 91 - 110.      

Jessner, U., Hofer, B., & Pinto, M.A. (2015) MKT-2 Metalinguistischer Kompetenztest 2. Innsbruck: Studia Verlag. 

Jessner, U., Pellegrini, C., Moroder, V., Hofer, B., & Pinto, M.A. (2015) MKT-3 Metalinguistischer Kompetenztest 3. Innsbruck: Studia Verlag.

land.schafft.sprache – tirol ist mehrsprachig

March 2013 – June 2014


  • Cooperation partners were the JUFF – Fachbereich Integration, Tyrol and the MA III Stadtplanung, Stadtentwicklung und Integration, Innsbruck.
  • The DyME project "land.schafft.sprache – tirol ist mehrsprachig" received the D. Swarovski KG 2013 funding.

The exhibition ‘land.schafft.sprache – tirol ist mehrsprachig’ was presented in spring of 2014 in
the Barockkeller of the Imperial Palace (Kaiserliche Hofburg Innsbruck). It shed light on the
multilinguality of the city and allowed visitors to take a closer look at the linguistic landscape of
Innsbruck and Tyrol. The exhibition documented multilinguality through demographic, economic,
ethno-cultural and sociolinguistic facts with a special focus on Innsbruck and thus sensitized people
to the diversity of languages surrounding them. In addition, the exhibition provided information on
general aspects of language and multilingualism and presented the current state of research in this
field. Migration and globalisation have contributed to the multilingual diversity of Innsbruck and
Tyrol; multilingualism has in turn gained importance as a factor in minority policy and integration
work. Through the exhibition, we hoped to make visitors more aware of the presence of
multilingualism in numerous aspects of their everyday lives, and to stimulate thought and discussion
on language policy and a better multilingual coexistence.

The contents presented in the exhibition were based on the DYME group’s research focus, on
contributions from students at the Department of English Studies and curatorial concepts, produced
with and by students of architecture. The exhibition design was planned and produced by a
professional team of architects, together with architecture students at the University of
Innsbruck, Institut für Experimentelle Architektur. Hochbau.

A multi-faceted education programme for Tyrolean pupils (all school-levels) and kindergarten children as
well as a varied framework programme, including workshops, an international symposium (Thursday,
27th of March, 2014) and a multilingual opening party (Friday, 21st of March, 2014), added a cultural
finishing touch to the exhibition.

Jessner, U., Megens, M. Unterthiner, D., Topf, S., and Megens, M. (2018) “Multilingual awareness in
Tyrolean material culture. Or: Why a tube of toothpaste can split people’s opinions.”
In: L. Aronin, M. Hornsby and G. Kiliańska-Przybyło (eds.) The Material Culture of
Multilingualism, 113-130. Educational Linguistics, Vol. 36. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

SprachEntwicklungsbeobachtung Mehrsprachig

The Observation of Multilingual Development in Children

Research in the field of multilingualism on an individual and social level is an important part of applied linguistics. Innovatively DyME uses a multilingual and holistic research approach: Rather than looking at the development of just one language, as it had been done previous studies, we take all languages of each individual into account.

For a long time research had handled people speaking more than one language as multiple monolingual people in one. However, that has changed. New research models, such as the Dynamic Model of Multilingualism (DMM; Herdina & Jessner 2002; Jessner 2006) assume that multilingual people have a big, complex and dynamic language(s) system, which again consist of several subsystems (e.g. single language systems). These subsystems are connected with each other and interdependent subsequently influencing each other.

Multilingual language development and multicompetence in children

Hence, bi- or multilingual people cannot be compared with monolingual people. This is due to the fact, that the interaction of each language system results in new (emerging) features, which are non-existent or less developed in monolinguals. This includes, for instance, divergent or creative thinking, a greater metalinguistic awareness and greater sensitivity concerning communication needs respectively more divers communications strategies (see e.g. Cenoz 2003,; Bialystok 1991, 2001, 2009). Such capabilities are beneficial when it comes to accomplishing new tasks or learning other languages. The main research interest of the DyME-group is multilingual awareness in particular.

There are numerous tests and instruments for observing language development and assessing language proficiency however, most of these instruments do not meet the needs of multilingual children. This is primarily due to the fact that they are designed for monolinguals. Regarding the monitoring of multilingual children's language development, it is important to go beyond the mere testing of a single language and take into consideration the multilingual system with all its complexity.

The research project in Nenzing (Vorarlberg, Austria)

The DyME-SEM project investigates English as a bridge-language in Kindergarten. In the first pilot year approximately 40 children will be tested; one half of them growing up bi- or multilingually. The aim is to observe the children's language development in all their respective languages (German, Turkish, English, etc.) in different contexts. It is designed to show multilingual children's development of cognitive and linguistic skills, as well as the emerging skills.

The analysis of the results advice on optimising targeted language support.


Bialystok, E. (1991). Metalinguistic dimensions of bilingual language proficiency. In E. Bialystok (ed.). Language processing in bilingual children. Cambridge: CUP, 113-140.

Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development. Cambridge: CUP.

Bialystok, E. (2009). Bilingualism: The good, the bad, and the indifferent. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 3-11.

Cenoz, J. (2003). The additive effect of bilingualism on third language acquisition. International Journal of Bilingualism 7, 71-88.

Herdina, P & Jessner, U. (2002). A Dynamic Model of Multilingualism. Perspectives of Change in Psycholinguistics. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Jessner, U. (2006) Linguistic Awareness in Multilinguals: English as a Third Language. Edinburgh: Edingburgh UP.

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