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Old 22.05.2011, 13:57
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Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

I mean , how is that possible ? Surely after 5-10 years all school leavers should have a basic grasp and understanding. Just read threads about host families and landlords not being able to utter even the basics.

Deliberate ignorance, plausible denial, embarrassment or truly not being able to ?

Mange tout, mange tout.
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:05
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

Most people in France under 35 had 5 years of Spanish in school. Try being a Spanish tourist in France. Good luck.

Most people in England under 100 had ** years of French in school. I'm glad I could speak english there...

Most people in Scandinavia had 8 years of German in school. I was not impressed.

Do the same with English in Japan, Danish in Iceland, French in Ontario... it's fun
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:08
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

I don't think the english language had same the importance in the schooling system as today. I'm not that old, but we only had english in school for about 3 years (5years french and 2 italian). For kids in Realschule (we had 3 levels: Real-, Sekundar- and spezielle Sekundarschule) english was optional. Those who didn't have a strong interest in languages or parents who wanted their kids to learn english, left the system without lerning english at all.

...forgot the Berufsschule/Gymnasium, where we (like most/all?) had another 3 years of french and english, so your "5-10 years" is not that far off as I initially made it to be.
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:10
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

Maybe they all speak more of one of the other national languages than they do English.

It's a bit of a dilemma really. What is more important? Being able to converse in English or being able to talk to people in the same country living less than 200km away?
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:28
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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Deliberate ignorance, plausible denial, embarrassment or truly not being able to ?

Mange tout, mange tout.
I believe the Swiss system is not too different from Germany: About a third goes to Gymnasium - grammar school - and they should have at least a basic idea (even if they do not choose English as the first foreign language). The second third went to Realschule and at least in Germany could the kids choose a language track (which usually girls chose) or a technical track with more maths and natural sciences. There, the level was already pretty low. The last third went to Hauptschule and I would not expect them to be able to build a grammatically correct sentence with more than five words in their mother tongue... so forget about foreign languages.

Bottom line: About 50% of the population should have some basics. Problem: It is typically the other 50% that end up working in services from waiting tables over checking your train ticket to being the caretaker of your apartment. So yes, it is very likely that it helps to speak a local language when moving abroad - even as an English speaker.
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:39
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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I mean , how is that possible ? Surely after 5-10 years all school leavers should have a basic grasp and understanding. Just read threads about host families and landlords not being able to utter even the basics.

Deliberate ignorance, plausible denial, embarrassment or truly not being able to ?
you forget that English is not a local language here.
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Old 22.05.2011, 14:43
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you forget that English is not a local language here.
Yes, but it's offered as a foreign language because of its importance. If you are going to offer it, then teach it right.

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Maybe they all speak more of one of the other national languages than they do English.

It's a bit of a dilemma really. What is more important? Being able to converse in English or being able to talk to people in the same country living less than 200km away?
If you never want to leave Switzerland, or have a job with global connections, then yes, don't learn English.

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I don't think the english language had same the importance in the schooling system as today. I'm not that old, but we only had english in school for about 3 years (5years french and 2 italian). For kids in Realschule (we had 3 levels: Real-, Sekundar- and spezielle Sekundarschule) english was optional. Those who didn't have a strong interest in languages or parents who wanted their kids to learn english, left the system without lerning english at all.

...forgot the Berufsschule/Gymnasium, where we (like most/all?) had another 3 years of french and english, so your "5-10 years" is not that far off as I initially made it to be.
On the German side of Switzerland, it's more important then French, as they see English has more benefits. They have the right idea, but they need to teach it better. Most educated Swiss will have learned English at some point, the ones who are content wiil not.

I have read that "It is NOT important to speak English to expats. People are free to use the national language they want. There is nothing expats can do about it and locals could not care less, including me. If a foreign language is too much for you, then tough luck."
Very good attitude, that will certainluy help students. If someone is studying English, it is important to practice with native speakers as with any language. Guess some people must live very isolated. It's backwards views like that , that make me glad I left.

Last edited by MusicChick; 23.05.2011 at 00:49. Reason: Consecutive posts.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:05
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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you forget that English is not a local language here.
I haven't forgotten. I was talking about the English that was taught here, and the end result of a high school life ending in no ability to communicate in that language.

The question was, can people really speak English after High school etc, or do they feign not being able to ?
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:11
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In our area, children who will be in the 3rd secondary class of next fall will have been taking English since the third grade.

Their English is mostly excellent. However, not all children are linguistically inclined and some will never master the language. Everyone is different.

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I haven't forgotten. I was talking about the English that was taught here, and the end result of a high school life ending in no ability to communicate in that language.

The question was, can people really speak English after High school etc, or do they feign not being able to ?
Uphatters: could you please define "high school" for me? Is that matura?

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Old 22.05.2011, 15:12
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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The question was, can people really speak English after High school etc, or do they feign not being able to ?
Some of us, yes. I am doing it now, I explained the tram ticket system earlier this week in English to a visiting American or far-away-English mother tongue speaker because she asked if I could help... and all that with what I've learnt in English in a French High school.
But do we have to speak in English? No, we don't have. People are free. Even with French in Germanspeaking Switzerland, one does not always get an answer, and they've had French long enough to objectively at least try, and it's a national language.
Expatriate = outside of one's own country, remember?
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:12
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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I haven't forgotten. I was talking about the English that was taught here, and the end result of a high school life ending in no ability to communicate in that language.

The question was, can people really speak English after High school etc, or do they feign not being able to ?
According to Faltrad, it's not important to speak English to expats.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:13
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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Uphatters: could you please define "high school" for me? Is that matura?
For me , it's anything kids go to between 11-18 years.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:14
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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I haven't forgotten. I was talking about the English that was taught here, and the end result of a high school life ending in no ability to communicate in that language.

The question was, can people really speak English after High school etc, or do they feign not being able to ?
As someone mentioned earlier, when youngsters leave high school their grasp of English is probably as good as my French was when I finished seconday education. ie, not great! However, when I lived in France for six months I did my utmost to speak in French and was generally received pretty well (with the odd snigger - don't blame them!!)

My experience in Switzerland is that if I apologise profusely for not speaking the local language (Swiss German) and assure them that their English is bound to better than my Swiss German, then people do attempt to speak to me in English.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:15
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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For me , it's anything kids go to between 11-18 years.
Thanks. For me, it's useless terminology here in Switzerland. There are so many types of schooling for children between 11-18, that one cannot throw it into one pot.

If children have done their three years of secondary school and then go on to become sales assistants, do they need the same amount of English as someone studying for university? Of course, not.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:18
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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Some of us, yes. I am doing it now, I explained the tram ticket system earlier this week in English to a visiting American or far-away-English mother tongue speaker because she asked if I could help... and all that with what I've learnt in English in a French High school.
But do we have to speak in English? No, we don't have. People are free. Even with French in Germanspeaking Switzerland, one does not always get an answer, and they've had French long enough to objectively at least try.
Expatriate = outside of one's own country, remember?


OK, standpoint aside.

Two people.
One can speak English, and no other language.
The other can speak Swiss German, and has been taught to high school level how to communicate in English.

I assume from your attitude, and in answering the crucial question, you can speak English, but choose not too, perhaps by feigning ignorance if you come across someone who speaks English to you. Of course, no one has to speak English, but as the only common language between person A and person B, I see no reason not to. Sure person A can attempt to learn the local language, but that isn't going to happen half way through an awkward conversation is it ? IF B has the ability to communicate in the common/shared language, then isn't the onus on that person to switch languages ?
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:19
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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Thanks. For me, it's useless terminology here in Switzerland. There are so many types of schooling for children between 11-18, that one cannot throw it into one pot.

If children have done their three years of secondary school and then go on to become sales assistants, do they need the same amount of English as someone studying for university? Of course, not.
So, what's the minimum time and maximum time a Swiss person going through the combinations of Education here gets to learn English ?
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:19
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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Thanks. For me, it's useless terminology here in Switzerland. There are so many types of schooling for children between 11-18, that one cannot throw it into one pot.

If children have done their three years of secondary school and then go on to become sales assistants, do they need the same amount of English as someone studying for university? Of course, not.
Yes, but what if they want to learn more. Should people be stuck in one position? Seems in Switzerland people are put into boxes, and you dare not get out of your box.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:29
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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IF B has the ability to communicate in the common/shared language, then isn't the onus on that person to switch languages ?
yes and no. The bilingual person has the choice to do so. I often do, I must admit that I am here arguing a theoretical argument based on principals, whereas you all think of real life. Sorry for that, but that's how I am and how you are. Keep that in mind.

That being said: Fact is that this situation also means that communication will have to take place on the monolingual's terms. That forces the bilingual into giving up his own language and there are some reasons one would not want to do so. Whether the monolingual person understands those reasons or not is irrelevant: the decision is free and there is no human right to be talked to in ENglish everywhere in the world. It's a possibility, not a necessity (see Descartes for more background on that).

In other words, I will always have the choice to answer to you or any other expat in English or not, based on my own criteria, and you have no claim on them as we all are free human beings. I don't care whether you expect me to speak english, I don't choose to communicate to people by their standards but by mine. You do to as you communicate in English based on your standard that you have not learnt the local language (and maybe with good reasons for that.... I didn't speak japanese in Japan either). I respect your choice of monolingualism, i don'T force you to listen to my German. Do the same and don't force your choices on me. I will refer to my values to decide if I answer in English or not. I often do, don'T worry, every message on this forum is a proof of it.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:35
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So, what's the minimum time and maximum time a Swiss person going through the combinations of Education here gets to learn English ?
In Kanton Schwyz:

- Children start as of the 3rd grade.
- They will continue through until the last secondary class (the 9th grade).
- In KV they will continue receiving English, even if they are sales assistants or office workers.
- the levels of English at KV will be different because priorities are different.
- in trade schools, usually English is not offered because it's not a priority. (However, in some schools, it is offered as a frei Fach)
- There are so many English courses available to the public (at a cost), that anyone can continue their education.
- Many students go abroad for a few months to learn English.
- Matura students, depending on their priorities, are taking the First, Becs Business or even Advanced exams.

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Yes, but what if they want to learn more. Should people be stuck in one position? Seems in Switzerland people are put into boxes, and you dare not get out of your box.
What's so amazing about the Swiss education system is that children are NOT put into boxes. There are so many options available, that's it's hard for many to decide which direction to choose.
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Old 22.05.2011, 15:44
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Re: Leaving the Swiss schooling system and unable to speak much English...

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yes and no. The bilingual person has the choice to do so. I often do, I must admit that I am here arguing a theoretical argument based on principals, whereas you all think of real life. Sorry for that, but that's how I am and how you are. Keep that in mind.

That being said: Fact is that this situation also means that communication will have to take place on the monolingual's terms. That forces the bilingual into giving up his own language and there are some reasons one would not want to do so. Whether the monolingual person understands those reasons or not is irrelevant: the decision is free and there is no human right to be talked to in ENglish everywhere in the world. It's a possibility, not a necessity (see Descartes for more background on that).

In other words, I will always have the choice to answer to you or any other expat in English or not, based on my own criteria, and you have no claim on them as we all are free human beings. I don't care whether you expect me to speak english, I don't choose to communicate to people by their standards but by mine. You do to as you communicate in English based on your standard that you have not learnt the local language (and maybe with good reasons for that.... I didn't speak japanese in Japan either). I respect your choice of monolingualism, i don'T force you to listen to my German. Do the same and don't force your choices on me. I will refer to my values to decide if I answer in English or not. I often do, don'T worry, every message on this forum is a proof of it.
You must have some strange converstions in your head. So you must know before the person even speaks to you in English their whole background, and reasons why or not they may know your language. Travel would take a big hit, if people knew that no one would want to speak to them in English, which is like or not the most important language gloablly.
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