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Old 16.09.2018, 16:52
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Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

Hi all,

We are after some advice...
I'm a Brit who has been contracting here in Zürich for a few months, but I've just landed a permanent role here starting in November.
My wife and 10-year old son will be moving out to join me sometime in mid December.

Does anyone have any experience of moving out here with non-German speaking children? How did they cope? How did you integrate them? Most importantly, what school did you place them and how quickly were they able to learn the language(s)?

I don't think we can afford a private education for him unfortunately. As much as I'd love to place him in a bi/trilingual school, we just don't have the 30k/year required!

Has anybody successfully gone down any state school route in a similar situation?

Thanks in advance for any advice, experiences (good or bad) or recommendations!
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Old 16.09.2018, 17:47
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

This Ct. Zurich webpage is called "Information for newly arrived foreign nationals". It contains information on "Education and training" which might answer some of your questions (English):

https://integration.zh.ch/internet/j...ar-textimage_0


Added:
This might be of special interest:

"School admissions

The local school authority allocates the child a school place. The school management is responsible for allocating a place in a suitable class. The class should be suited to the child’s age as far as possible. If the child speaks no or little German, they attend lessons in German as a second language in addition to following the regular timetable. The class teacher also helps the child become integrated in the class and work through the material the class has covered.

Some towns offer newly arrived children a special programme where they spend up to a maximum of one year learning German and preparing to join regular classes."

https://vsa.zh.ch/dam/bildungsdirekt...en_kindern.pdf

Last edited by Mullhollander; 16.09.2018 at 18:06.
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Old 16.09.2018, 18:58
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

You shouldn't judge your sons' language learning abilities by your own !


He will pick up German fast and their will be extra coaching provided by the school.


In 6 months he'll be speaking, in one year, he'll be fluent and assisting you sort out all sorts of problems that require German !


State schools, in general, are very good here in Switzerland.
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Old 16.09.2018, 19:15
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

My daughter was 10 when she started here without any German. The first 6 months were tough for her, but after that it got easier. It is absolutely doable and extra German classes will be provided. Having English as a first language is actually helpful, because most teachers and even some kids will be able to communicate with him until he learns enough to get by. We have been here for 5 years, and when you hear her speak Swiss German now, you would never know she is not a native speaker.
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Old 16.09.2018, 22:19
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

It will be tough at first but the schools here are used to integrating students with german as a second language. At least one parent learning German to a good level really helps.



The school hours here are a big difference to the uk - most children go home for lunch and childcare over lunch is expensive. Wed afternoons are school free and start and finish times vary depending on the day. Some schools in Zurich city have started doing full day school though.


You don't get to choose your child's primary school, you just get allocated to one local to where you live that has space.



At 10, your child would expect to do a further 2 years in primary school. Secondary school is streamed, whilst the top level exam entrance gymnasium would probably be too difficult unless your child is super bright, there is the opportunity to do 2/3 years at secondary school and then go to gymnasium which leads to a qualification recognised by universities, like A Levels.



Alternatively, there is great support to get apprenticeships after 3 years of secondary school for students who want to learn a trade and then progress on to university after further study if so wished.


Some UK parents send their children back to the uk to do GCSE's/A Levels if they are keen to do academic study rather than an apprenticeship but don't meet the tough Zurich gymnasium standards.


Good luck!
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Old 16.09.2018, 22:34
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

If you can't afford a private school, then you won't actually have a choice of school - it will be allocated according to where you live.



There may be a special 'integration/intensive language' school or programme, it depends on the area/school. In Adliswil area some of the kids go to Horgen for integration class ! After 6 or 12 months they will be transferred back into the local school, usually with additional 'DAZ' (german for non-german speakers)... support, or even 1:1 speech therapy.



10 is quite late to try to integrate into a high academic stream. You'll need to be sure that the value to your child of living here, outweighs your expectations about school pathways. The system is very different to the UK model - that will take quite a lot of research to get an idea of it.


Our kids were in Montessori schools in Australia, then transferred to Montessori in Switzerland (with a tuition discount because we are teachers) and then to the local Secondary school. From there, the pathway is complicated, and at the moment we have a 16 and 18 year old that are 'in between' school and knowing what they really want to do... it's frustrating because in Australia, as long as their behaviour at school is OK, they would be locked in to school until age 18... whereas we needed to find a new school or apprenticeship track for them at 15/16...



It depends a lot on what your child's natural interests are - does he have any shining interests or hobbies ? Those can really make a big difference in finding a way through the complex options...
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Old 17.09.2018, 13:25
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

What the other people have written is correct. If you aren't sending your kids to private school, they'll be sent to their neighborhood public school, so there isn't really a school choice. Fortunately, most public schools in Switzerland are quite good.

I assume you mean that you'll live in Kanton Zürich and in this case there is different integration support facilities (such as extra language help) available. It isn't possible to tell you exactly what is available based simply on the info 'Kanton Zürich.' For example, in Züric city, the kids spend a bit of time with half days in a special integration class with other kids who have moved to Switzelrand and don't speak German.

I've seen a bunch of kids start in Zürich who don't come speaking German. In most cases it takes a bit of time and then works out fine. The main issue might be that pretty soon you and your wife will be forcing your son to speak German for you and he'll find you both really embaressing. In a couple of cases, the parents I know have moved the kids to private school.

So, my advice... save your money and send your child to the local public school. Since the public schools are neighborhood schools, this has the advantage that the kids (and prob. you and your wife) will soon get to know many people in your neighborhood. Be flexible and be patient.

And my advice for you guys... It can be difficult to meet people in Switzerland. Volunteer at the school (when they have events) and join other community organizations. That'll help you guys integrate as well.

Have fun!
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Old 17.09.2018, 15:49
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

Yes. And the more both parents set about diligently learning the local language, the less they will have to depend on others (also not on their children) to translate.

Dealing with the teachers and sports coaches is sooo much better when you can understand what they say, read their letters, and attend the parents' events competently. Go for it!

It is a good idea to work on it parallel to the child's language learning, doing the same homework, etc. I once heard (from a man on a bus, on his way to his child's school in Zurich) of an integration course in which the parents were allowed to attend class, too, but I don't know any details.
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Old 17.09.2018, 16:28
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

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Yes. And the more both parents set about diligently learning the local language, the less they will have to depend on others (also not on their children) to translate.
Exactly!

Two of my friends moved to Zurich when their respective sons were 10yrs old. One went to the International school, and the other to the local school. Both were speaking a good standard of German after 6mths, to the point that one of them refused to speak his native language at home.

Be aware that the adult intensive German courses can be taken in blocks of 4 weeks for each level, then you can have a break for the school holidays, etc. If you or your wife can manage 2hrs per day, Mon-Fri, plus 1-2hrs homework, you'll be keeping up with your son before you know it.

In the meantime, all of you can begin an online free course, such as Duolingo, and work through the basic vocabulary at your own pace. It will give you a good grounding for when you're all here full time. Also, if you just set Duolingo so that you do one section per day, then add your son and wife to your group, you can use it like a game and watch how your son copes. If he's at all competitive, he'll welcome the chance to 'beat' dad at learning German
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Old 17.09.2018, 21:23
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

If you're planning on living in Zurich city, it's likely your son would go to a "Aufnahmeklasse" where the main focus is on learning German. Kids stay there as long as it takes em to learn enough German to get by in a "regular" classroom.
The pace is a little more relaxed compared to the UK when it comes to exams etc at this age, so that will certainly be helpful
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Old 18.09.2018, 09:04
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

Hi, we moved to Switzerland from the UK with 2 non-German speaking children 7 years ago, and put the eldest straight into the local school. Despite a few teething troubles, it all worked out in the end. We were able to start from age 5, and that made things easier, but I know people who did the same thing with older children and the children coped. The Swiss state schools are, in my opinion, far better that those in the UK, and as others have said, there is plenty of support for non-German speaking children.

My husband is also working in Zurich, so we initially looked at moving there. We were, however, nervous about school choice. Your address determines your school, and finding accommodation is not always so easy. Co-ordinating accommodation with the school is yet another complication. We also heard some horror stories about people who had been assured they would be assigned to one school suddenly being told that was incorrect, or a sudden influx of children into one school meant the allocations must be changed throughout the area. That isn't meant to happen, and it may have been prospective landlords/relocation agents trying to push their properties, so I may have been misled on this.

We ultimately went outside of Zurich (canton Zug). In a village, you are absolutely certain which school you will be allocated wherever you live in the village, and commuting to Zurich is nothing like commuting in SE England. Also, where we are has a high proportion of English speaking residents, which meant the school is used to English speaking children e.g. native speaking English children have separate English classes as they obviously know the language better than the Swiss children. Much as one wants the children to integrate and speak German, it can be a comfort for them to have some children in the class with whom they can communicate at the beginning e.g. my younger daughter was recently asked to assist a newly arrived English speaker in class by clarifying the teacher's instructions, until the boy could manage on his own.

There are a lot of language courses you can use outside of school to help your child learn German, but I found the best thing was simply to invite Swiss children home. I found the Swiss children were more comfortable in our home when they came in pairs, probably because we were speaking English/bad German.

If you are interested in living outside of Zurich, message me privately and I will give you details of where we are, more about the school and our experience with it. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

Best of luck with the move.
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Old 18.09.2018, 10:01
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

Public schools here are universally good but some deal with issues better than others. Unfortunately some of this comes down to money so (like most of the western world) the wealthier/lower tax the village is the more they can offer you (or at least make it easier to access services available).

Put simply, where you choose to live can have a big impact on your experience of life here so it is worth paying a bit of extra rent in a wealthy village to access a few things easier. The downside of this is sometimes these places have people a bit full of themselves.
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Old 18.09.2018, 15:07
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

[QUOTE=Rayne;2992228]
'Some UK parents send their children back to the uk to do GCSE's/A Levels if they are keen to do academic study rather than an apprenticeship but don't meet the tough Zurich gymnasium standards'

There are actually a few schools in Zurich that offer GSCE and A-level programmes for English-speaking students that have either been to a Swiss secondary school or a bilingual middle school, such as Hull's school and a few others. Some are more established than others and its worth checking the quality of their academic programme!
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Old 22.09.2018, 10:16
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Re: Suitable school for non-German speaking 10-year old - Zürich

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Hi all,

We are after some advice...
I'm a Brit who has been contracting here in Zürich for a few months, but I've just landed a permanent role here starting in November.
My wife and 10-year old son will be moving out to join me sometime in mid December.

Does anyone have any experience of moving out here with non-German speaking children? How did they cope? How did you integrate them? Most importantly, what school did you place them and how quickly were they able to learn the language(s)?

I don't think we can afford a private education for him unfortunately. As much as I'd love to place him in a bi/trilingual school, we just don't have the 30k/year required!

Has anybody successfully gone down any state school route in a similar situation?

Thanks in advance for any advice, experiences (good or bad) or recommendations!

I have lived in Zug Canton (not Zurich) since Spring 2018, however, I have learned a few things that are very important that I didn't know about in the educational system here (specifically international, if you end up going that route in the end).

I just recently learned that you need to double and triple check if a school (international school in particular) is accredited, not just for IB or IGCSE but other accreditations. I found out that the school my son is attending is not accredited past the IB. They just recently purchased (because, yes, you can purchase some accreditations) the igcse accreditations.

From what my friends here tell me, if my son performs poorly in school, or the teaching he receives is poor and he cannot pass the rigors of the IB program (IGCSE is similar to IB), and the school is not accredited (believe me, i was shocked to find out these schools exist right here in Switzerland), then your child will not graduate with a diploma.

Additionally, if the school is not accredited, if you have to transfer your child to another school/country or even within Switzerland, the receiving school will likely deny the grades and/or require entrance exams just so they can appropriately place your child(ren).

You need to check accreditations via COIS.org or NEASC.org to make sure the school you are interested in is truly accredited. Any school that is accredited via these organizations will also have accredited teaching staff (higher education level) as well. And, believe me, there are schools with teachers who are not certified to teach (I'm trying to mop up a mess my relocation company made for me with my own family with regard to education)
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