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Old 04.10.2011, 14:40
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

Going back on topic, I think the point is that the experiences of a teenager here who does not speak any German is very different to that of an adult whose "catchment area" of potential friends will be much wider than school/ the local neighborhood/ and sports or other extra curricular organized activities.
I came here as a 15-year old (the product of my own informed decision in a situation very similar to that of OP's son) and got along just fine. My guess is that things have become even more international - especially since you plan on putting him into an international school and that therefore the language issue won't really be too much of a barrier.
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Old 04.10.2011, 15:44
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

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Snort. In many, many cases, public high school is a diploma mill and nothing more.
Although I disagree with you on this -- there are also MANY excellent school districts in the U.S.(depending on where you live) -- I think he will be fine here. Being able to attend an international school in Switzerland would be an outstanding opportunity for him. Just make sure there is a school with space for him before you go to court!
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Old 04.10.2011, 15:48
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

Forming a circle of friends without a local language - but knowing / being fluent in English - shouldn't be a problem. As others have noted, many teens here speak or understand English quite well.

This would be my sticking point though:
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I think the curriculum would not be a problem because the school does award US diplomas. He is just now starting his second-last year.
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Must admit I agree with poptart on this one - so close to graduation I would not want to move a child / teenager.
Find out for sure exactly how well the international school where you intend to send him matches up with his current school, particularly when it comes to graduation credits.

Even moving from state to state in the US (or even sometimes, district to district), there can be vast differences in what is required for graduation.

I stayed behind for a few months when my family was transferred during my senior year because the requirements at the (potential) new school were SO different compared to where I was attending that it would have meant an additional year at school.

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2. typcically have students only staying for a few years and then move on.

You don't say whether you have moved here permanently or are only here for a short while - and what circumstances triggered the move.
This to me, having grown up a military brat, is actually a bonus, not a drawback. The reason is simple; the other students with whom Xlator's son would be attending classes would be familiar with adjusting to newcomers so it is a bit easier to "integrate" with fellow students.

The hardest times I had during my school years was moving to areas where everyone and their grandmother had always lived there and always would. It is much easier / more comfortable to get to know folks who have similar experiences, including (perhaps "especially") the wrenching experience of having to make new friends after a move or after your old friends have moved away.
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Old 04.10.2011, 16:42
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

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Although I disagree with you on this -- there are also MANY excellent school districts in the U.S.(depending on where you live) -- I think he will be fine here. Being able to attend an international school in Switzerland would be an outstanding opportunity for him. Just make sure there is a school with space for him before you go to court!
Yes, there are many good ones too. I wouldn't necessarily have been able to find work in those communities, or even live there, though. In the city I was in before I left the US, rents in the "good" school district were some 20%higher than the rest of the area, predictably.

I may not have to go to court. I just want to be prepared. And of course I wouldn't do anything final unless I knew there was a place for him.
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Old 05.10.2011, 15:39
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

Kids learn English in school now from the 3rd grade, so he'll find plenty of youth that can converse in broken English, and there is a large population of Expats, especially in Zurich, all whose children speak fluent English, and if he takes some German lessons on the side, helps with integrating, then he should do just grand
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Old 05.10.2011, 16:02
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Re: Language barrier in Zurich - overrated or a real obstacle?

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I want my son, 17, to join me in Zurich. I am hoping he could go to the international high school here. However, it is possible that his father, who's caring for him now in the USA, will bring up "the language barrier" as an obstacle to his joining me. When I was 16 my mother brought me and my sister to Zurich to live for a year, and I don't recall any major problems making myself understood (though plenty of minor ones ). Now it seems I can't board a bus without hearing English being spoken somewhere on it - and they're not tourists speaking it. What do you all think? How crucial is German?
Slightly off topic, and I don't know all your details so I am probably talking out of my behind here, but I used to work in an international school and when school started there was always the B permit question for students. Some kids got rejected for permits even with parents legally in CH or even with one naturalized Swiss parent. One thing to keep in mind if you don't have a Swiss passport is that children over age 12 don't automatically get "family regroupment" B permits, which are regulated in principle but generally discretionary, no matter who the custodial parent is. Also, the older the kid is, the less likely he is to get it. However, these children are usually in a good situation to get a student permit, but parents don't think to ask for that when their family regroupment is rejected. I would just make sure which permit he can come in on beforehand, and know that the student permit is an option, because I saw so many parents stress over the whole international school application process and "will my kid integrate" questions, only to get roadblocked at permit time.
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