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Old 23.12.2010, 02:58
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schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

hi all, really need some advise here...

i have read most past threads and not much info on schooling for teens in CH.

I have 2 children, Nick 15 (by Sep 2011) and Venezia 12 (by Aug 2011).

We should be arriving ZH mid March and they will go public school as we could not afford private school.

but i have been receiving some negative feedback from my friend married to a Swiss who has 2 boys and same age with my children respectively.

She said Nick (especially) will face tremendous amount of pressure in public school as he only speaks English. He will not be able to catch up with the German language (and also French?)

OMG! can anyone please share more info with me.
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Old 23.12.2010, 08:39
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

I don't know the situation in Zürich, but in Bern there are processes in place to help children who start school with no German.

It can be very hard to have to start a new life in your teens and I can only suggest that you arrange for your children to learn as much German as possible BEFORE you arrive in Switzerland.

Sorry to not be more helpful, but I am sure someone from Zürich will be along soon.
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Old 23.12.2010, 08:49
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Look into an integration school, that's what we did. My boys were 15 and 13 when they started and they love it. We are in Zug but I'm sure Zurich has a similar program. It's a two year school, 7-8 hrs of german/day, the kids speak fluently by the end of first year. I found it by googling "integration school Zug ".

Try to find one in zurich. Oh and it's free
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Old 23.12.2010, 09:29
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

My daughter is 15 we arrived in Zurich 2 months ago so I know your stress.

When you arrive in Zurich, you register, then you will be sent to a place to enroll your kids in school. You will need their previous school reports. You fill out a form and they match your children to a school. With no German they will automatically be put in an integration class/school. You don't get to choose which school they get to go to. Stress on the form they have no German.

I was really stressed about this because I'm used to having a say in where my daughter goes, but, I have to admit, so far they have got it right. I left her at school on the first day and stressed so much, she came home all smiles. On day 2 she came home beaming and said "I've made a friend".

I was told the same as you, non German speaker will be treated as an outcast, and she will have some lessons in French. She doesn't have to learn French and the kids love the fact she speaks English. She helps them with their English, they help her with her German.
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:09
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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My daughter is 15 we arrived in Zurich 2 months ago so I know your stress.

When you arrive in Zurich, you register, then you will be sent to a place to enroll your kids in school. You will need their previous school reports. You fill out a form and they match your children to a school. With no German they will automatically be put in an integration class/school. You don't get to choose which school they get to go to. Stress on the form they have no German.

I was really stressed about this because I'm used to having a say in where my daughter goes, but, I have to admit, so far they have got it right. I left her at school on the first day and stressed so much, she came home all smiles. On day 2 she came home beaming and said "I've made a friend".

I was told the same as you, non German speaker will be treated as an outcast, and she will have some lessons in French. She doesn't have to learn French and the kids love the fact she speaks English. She helps them with their English, they help her with her German.

Thank you so much for sharing... oh dear, we don't get to choose?

My husband will be working in Oerlikon, we might (highly likely) be *residing outside ZH 2 months later... wonder how will the school posting be...

*The company will be providing accommodation for the first 2 months in the city itself.

am glad that your daughter has been coping well so far and pray the same for my children.

hope to hear from you again
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:16
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Look into an integration school, that's what we did. My boys were 15 and 13 when they started and they love it. We are in Zug but I'm sure Zurich has a similar program. It's a two year school, 7-8 hrs of german/day, the kids speak fluently by the end of first year. I found it by googling "integration school Zug ".

Try to find one in zurich. Oh and it's free

TQVM. I am glad to be getting favourable responses coz some friends have been skeptical towards our move, especially on the children's emo and education.

Happy that your boys speak fluently by the end of their 1st year.

and this integration school is free? Music to my ears!!! I will google such for ZH and check it out and hopefully by the time we got to ZH in Mar, the relevant authorities are kind and helpful as well...

Cheers
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:21
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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I don't know the situation in Zürich, but in Bern there are processes in place to help children who start school with no German.

It can be very hard to have to start a new life in your teens and I can only suggest that you arrange for your children to learn as much German as possible BEFORE you arrive in Switzerland.

Sorry to not be more helpful, but I am sure someone from Zürich will be along soon.
oh no, please don't be sorry. I am glad you chipped in one way or another... I won't be more worried should they both are toddlers...

yeah you are right, my boy (15) did some online basic German but that is what it is... hopefully like you, janite and dotty mentioned, there are processes in place to help foreign children cope.

do chip in more info from time to time for added comfort
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:27
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

When I was 15, I went to France for a year. I knew virtually no French, only a few words, never having studied it at school. I went to a normal French public school. My classes (other than English) were all in French.

At the end of the year, my French was almost at the level of my classmates. I had no special classes, but I did take French classes with kids 1 and two years younger than I (as well as with those my age).

Tom
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:29
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Paging CJ...
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:52
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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When I was 15, I went to France for a year. I knew virtually no French, only a few words, never having studied it at school. I went to a normal French public school. My classes (other than English) were all in French.

At the end of the year, my French was almost at the level of my classmates. I had no special classes, but I did take French classes with kids 1 and two years younger than I (as well as with those my age).

Tom
Phew!!! more comfort pouring in

having said so, I am still praying hard my children are welcomed instead of being bullied in schools and yes, I am assuming the role of home minister (of course I have to skip thinking of my career in ZH, which is non-existent for me too for "Zero-Deutsch"), so I hope my children and I can learn together as I will also be attending night classes sponsored by the company (for basic course only i guess). I will be continuing to Intermediate on my own (to be worried much later LOL!)

well, TQVM for sharing. It really means a lot to me as a parent. Emotionally I have to be strong and fearless for my children!
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:54
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Paging CJ...
LOL!!! I hope "paging CJ" is a SOS call for me.

Correct me if I am wrong
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Old 16.01.2011, 19:52
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

A friend of mine brought her 13 year old son - he speaks English and Italian. After a year in a private school that turned out to be a poor social environment, they moved him to the local school. He was offered extra German classes and lots of homework and support, and he's a very motivated and happy young teen now - independent and quite driven...he's taken full responsibility for his learning, and it shows in his success...

the parents are very happy with the opportunities that he has been given in the local secondary school and they are also happy that after 2-3 years he can decide on whether to go with the gymnasium stream, technical education or an apprenticeship...they are confident that he will find his way through the system..
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Old 16.01.2011, 20:22
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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the parents are very happy with the opportunities that he has been given in the local secondary school and they are also happy that after 2-3 years he can decide on whether to go with the gymnasium stream, technical education or an apprenticeship...they are confident that he will find his way through the system..
....If he gets a choice.. here it's mostly the teachers who decide whether a child is qualified to go to high school and prepare the Matura/Maturité exams which in turn would give the child access to the university.

I really don't want to spoil your hopes Hohan, nevertheless it wouldn't be fair to say that it will be a picnic. It will take time to adapt.
15 years old is approximately the age when the decision is taken regarding the child's future (apprenticeship or high school).

As expensive as it is, private school might be a good investment for your eldest.

It will be easier on your 12 years old simply because there won't be as much pressure.
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Old 16.01.2011, 20:28
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There is an integration school in Winterthur too and my friends' 3 girls all enjoyed it there, and were all transferred into normal school after 6 months. All of them (age 8 -13) are in the same class as you would have expected ... They lost no time at all by moving here.

Good luck!

Lisa
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Old 16.01.2011, 20:39
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Gosh.. I'm impressed by the positive messages..... perhaps things have really changed a lot for the better
Best of luck Hohan
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Old 16.01.2011, 20:58
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

I hesitated to write, but you want the info, don't you... so here is one cause for more stress in your life:

Coming from a non french speaking foreign country, the question is in which kind of high school he will be accepted in. There are several kinds of school. A Swiss child in maturité school will have been allowed to get in. Maturité schools will therefore ask themselves IF your 15 y.o. should be there too or not. This is a general process, being foreigner does not give any inconvenient, being non-French speaking will however because there is no way a teenager can follow maturité curriculum without near-native language command. It is not impossible but it's really hard for a 15 y.o. to get from zero to near native so quickly and digest the other national language they have to take as a foreign language that other students have studied for some years already.

In Vaud, a 15 y.o. student will have to enter secondary II. But there are two kinds. Looking at wiki, I see they are named officially "école de culture générale" and "école de maturité" (each canton has its own vocab and structures for schools, so be very careful from where you get your info). Therefore it is important to fix the language question first and clarify what the Swiss (vaudois) authorities think of your child's grades and past school achievements.

Two kinds of high schools do NOT mean that the one is better than the other, it depends the kind of subjects and the kind of diploma at the end, which opens either university as you know it or opens the doors of technical higher schools who can also be excellent. Be careful too that the two kinds of schools may be integrated at the same place, called gymnase. (I don't know Vaud, but from what I read, it seems to be the normal case).

EDIT: Do not underestimate the academical level at école de maturité, remember it is a high school with students picked up for their academic profile. Not elite, but not really the same as UK or north american system.
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Old 16.01.2011, 21:22
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Thank you so much for sharing... oh dear, we don't get to choose?

My husband will be working in Oerlikon, we might (highly likely) be *residing outside ZH 2 months later... wonder how will the school posting be...

*The company will be providing accommodation for the first 2 months in the city itself.

am glad that your daughter has been coping well so far and pray the same for my children.

hope to hear from you again
Never mind what the company is giving you for two months in the way of housing, you should really look for permanent housing to start your children in the school that they will stay in. This is in their best interests. If you don't think you are going to stay in ZH, look elsewhere now. I don't knwo if you are considering another canton but switching schools, and in particular cantons, is just going to complicate matters. With children 14 and 11, you already have a very big challenge on your hands.

Cantons vary in how they approach the challenge of integrating children who do not speak German, and this also varies from school to school. I know this is certainly the case in Kanton Aargau.
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Old 16.01.2011, 21:27
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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As expensive as it is, private school might be a good investment for your eldest.

It will be easier on your 12 years old simply because there won't be as much pressure.
I have seen the integration class work for kids who are this age. So much depends on the child. Academically it can work, socially it can be difficult.

But if you do not have the money for international school, you have to look for the best options locally.
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Old 16.01.2011, 21:36
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Academically it can work,
In Basel, they may ask for entrance exam. One would have to ask for Vaud. Very hard to get into Gymnasium (école de maturité) without the language skills at level before hand.
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Old 16.01.2011, 22:15
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Just to get some info straight, OP's kids are 12 and 15 and they are not considering living in VD but either Zurich or Oerlikon.

Good luck, OP, it has worked for most people, some of the options are fab here, for sure. I feel, I'd try it first with the regular integration class and then whatever local option is, since you might be able to swiftly switch to private school in case there is a trouble. You might have to consider a waiting list, anyways, for the private or international schools, and since you say it is not your option due to tuition fees, just give the local system a shot and then see. If worst happens, you move back to UK for your child to have an access to uni, etc. It's not like he would be stuck, being from a different country gives more opportunities than being local, me thinks. There still the home system to have, as a back up. There are options, too, for those who learn the local lingo slower, to catch up with Maturite while working (or doing apprentisage) and taking the evening courses and finish 2 years later than they would normally finish. Then they can go on to uni. The system seems restricting, it is in fact quite diverse, one just has to be flexible and determined.

(there certainly is a test d'admission for gmn in VD, in the local lingo)
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