European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 225–238 | Cite as

Children’s interethnic relationships in multiethnic primary school: results of an inclusive language learning intervention on children with native and immigrant background in Italy

  • Sabine PirchioEmail author
  • Ylenia Passiatore
  • Giuseppe Carrus
  • Traute Taeschner


The increasing multicultural character of European society and the growing presence of children from immigrant families in European schools represent a key issue to understand the development of positive social behavior and intergroup relations in the education context. In this paper, we assessed the outcomes of a school intervention program aimed at improving interethnic relations among primary school children in Italy, through foreign language (i.e., English) learning activities, based on the narrative format model. Children who took part in the intervention program were compared to a control group, following a pre-post design (N = 129; age range 7–9 years old). Results confirmed our expectations, indicating a reduced tendency of Italian pupils to reject their immigrant schoolmates, after the intervention. An opposite pattern emerged in the control group, where no specific intervention was implemented. In terms of foreign language learning outcomes, results show that children who participated to the narrative format intervention have a higher production of English words, both new and repeated. The theoretical and practical implications of the study for what it concerns the improvement of linguistic achievement and the promotion of positive social climates in multiethnic educational contexts are discussed.


Intercultural education Interethnic relationships Multiethnic classrooms Foreign language learning Narrative format model 



S. Pirchio, Y. Passiatore, and T. Taeschner designed the intervention and the study. S. Pirchio, Y. Passiatore, and G. Carrus equally contributed to the writing, revision, and data analysis of the paper. Y. Passiatore collected the data. The authors are grateful to Caterina Fiorilli and Fridanna Maricchiolo, and to all the colleagues involved in the SOFT project, for their valuable contribution to the conceptual development of the intervention and research described in this paper.

Funding information

The SOFT project was funded with support from the European Commission (Agreement N°. 2012- 4479 Project N°. 531208-LLP-1-2012-1-IT-KA2-KA2MP).

Compliance with ethical standards


This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dynamic and Clinical PsychologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesLUMSA University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of EducationRoma Tre UniversityRomeItaly

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