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Old 20.02.2007, 14:34
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Language teaching in Swiss schools.

Along with the Dutch and the Scandanavians, the Swiss people are renowned for their ability to speak two or more languages fluently.

Can someone explain to me how languages are tauaght in Swiss schools. If a child lives in a German-speaking area, what is the first foreign language they are taught? French or English? And at what age do they start? Is it also compulsory to learn Italian?

Are the rules different for children living in French or Italian speaking parts of Switzerland?

I seem to remember reading an article a few years ago about English lessons taking precedence over French in the German-speaking areas, much to the disgust of the French speakers.
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Old 20.02.2007, 14:43
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

This is rpobably not too surprising, but it is dependant on the canton of the school. I am not up to date with the current system, but if I recall correctly Zurich teaches English before French, but in Basel French is started before English. Are you interesting in one particular canton or more in general?
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Old 20.02.2007, 14:45
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

Quote:
Can someone explain to me how languages are tauaght in Swiss schools. If a child lives in a German-speaking area, what is the first foreign language they are taught? French or English? And at what age do they start? Is it also compulsory to learn Italian?
That highly depends on where you live. In some cantons, English is taught first (usually beginning in 2nd grade), in some it's French. A second language is taught between 1 and 3 grades later.
Italian is never compulsory in the German speaking parts of Switzerland.
In the French speaking cantons, German is usually taught (rather than Italian), but that, too, may vary.
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Old 20.02.2007, 14:45
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

One could argue that the very first 'foreign' language taught to Swiss german children is proper High German

There used to be a law once,don't know if it still exists, that it was mandatory to teach ONE of the other official languages of Switzerland from fifth grade onwards,in Swissgerman parts this was usually French, with the option from seventh grade onwards to choose Italian or English.

In the French part of Switzerland this was then often High German that was taught from fifth grade onwards and Italian or English as an optional subject from seventh grade onwards ,and the same principle applies to the Ticino and Grison Alps ( rumantsch)

Nowadays,children often have a better notion of english already in Kindergarten :-) :-),so some of the Cantons have started to teach english BEFORE one of the official swiss languages. This was causing an outcry amongst traditionalists.

I have to admit, that living in a bilingual area,like i do, i would like my kids to learn French first and then English or then both languages at the same time,but that's just my personal opinion.
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Old 20.02.2007, 14:47
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

Yes, it varies depending on the canton. Here in Graubünden, it's pretty different. My Swiss BF learnt Romansch as his first language (even though he is Swiss German) in school, then went on to learn German. Later - around Grade 5, he had to learn French and Italian. It all depends - here I hear Romansch, Swiss German and Italian daily from different people who live here... and the school curriculum reflects that. Then when you get to Grade 7, you start learning English. Because they learn so late, English is not a language that I can speak here and be understood.
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Old 20.02.2007, 14:48
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

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. Are you interesting in one particular canton or more in general?
I was just looking for a general overview of the situation. Children in the UK don't start learning a foreign language until the age of 12 and there is no compulsion to do it beyond the age of 14.

In stark contrast, their Dutch counterparts will already have been learning English for six years and German for four. At age 12, Dutch kids begin their third foreign tongue, usually French or Spanish.

No wonder foreign language speakers in the UK are so few and far between!
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Old 17.03.2007, 15:47
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

it all depends on the canton. in Deutschschweiz it used to be High German, French, English then another language at will...and vice versa in French bit. nowadays it depends on whereabouts you are, its still like that in Basel (BS & BL) whereas in ZH its High German, English, French.

I grew up in UK, started French & Latin at 12, Spanish at 15 and German at Uni (18)...but this is far from the norm and the curriculum has since changed so there's no longer a govt requirement to do ANY language past 14. Progressive, eh? Gotta love the New Labour lip service to European integration ...
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Old 17.03.2007, 17:10
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

This is quite a volitile issue here actually. This late fall, early winter, there was a vote on language education in Switzerland.
I don't know if anyone wrote this yet, but there are also Gynasiums that focus on language. They teach Latin and various other languages to interested students.
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Old 17.03.2007, 17:27
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Re: Language teaching in Swiss schools.

I think the first foreign language they have to learn is high German, I would have thought.



DC
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