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Old 22.04.2011, 17:19
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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Wait a minute: the weaker level of command of the language among kids of foreign origine is real. Teacher correcting matura essays here. The question is only how fair can one be given the fact that the level expected in language skills has no reasons to be lower for one part of the population just because they happen to have to deal with several languages. The problem is not even against foreigners as we have the same problem within the four national communities, in bilingual cities and even more for the Romansh minority who have to go German for their education, like any immigrant (including expat kids). There is absolutely no "plan" to keep social ladder for local children, as part of the national population is victim of that due to the nature of the plurilinguistic national community. It's too simple to blame the locals, you are basically saying that immigrants are discriminated all the way through... but the difference of language level is relevant to all carreers involving climbing the social ladder. Why would you employ people lacking abilities compared to other applicants? It's like employing me as an English teacher, that would be pure HR incompetence.

I am sorry to insist, but if one is less articulated in written and oral communication as other applicants, one should not get the job. It's irrelevant whether the applicant in question is from Uganda, from the UK or just from the last backasss village house at the top of the last hill before the end of the forest of deepest Switzerland!! And believe me, there are quite a few very local Swiss students in my classes that would not get the job either precisely because they have a far too vague idea of what High-German is expected to look like.

Your US example is fine, but it is the exact same thing in CH given the local system: The best way to engeneering carreer is definitly not matura-schools but the other ones that you clame are a form of discrimination. CH is doing exactly what you are claiming is missing: giving opportunities to children of different abilities in the local national language and let them explore other lines than the matura-schools and let them have the time to developp their language skills during those years, with the possibility to go over to matura-schools regularly. The second chances are many and come regularly on a student's path in CH. But forget the "all university" system that you are used to, otherwise, we will be talking pass each other in all eternity. I even have colleagues, math and science teachers that did an apprenticeship first. Good for them! They are Swiss, one of them has quite a bad High German in my opinion and he is a wonderful intelligent academically at the top secondary teacher at matura level. A foreign mother tongue student with needy German skills at 14 could do exactly the same and end up giving matura grades in 15 years. That is CH.

Of course, being a language and litterature teacher, I may see that as far more dramatic as most other people... but speaking of fairness should involve the messurement of students' achievements from what they really deliver. At the end, in life, it's the result that counts. And that should be the real focus of fairness in assessment. Humblely me thinks that one can not make excuses for everything.

EDIT: You want to talk about social discrimination with language in elitist school system? Go to France. Plenty to talk about in that field.

The current system in CH or other EU countries would work fine if they were made up of homogeneous populations, i.e. a single nationality, culture and language. Can we dispute the current system puts immigrant kids at an unfair disadvantage? Statistics says no. Can we dispute the system puts native speakers in an advantaged position? No.

I also think you are giving too much weight into language skills in education, sure it is very important, but I know many people not great in spoken or written language, but who can perform miracles in a technical field at a high level. Besides, things can improve in time. I worked with people who could not speak the english language (ok lets be honest, from Asian countries) but they were great and outperformed natives when it came to getting results. Being able to integrate immigrants is THE biggest advantage US has over europe, and the first rule is if you work hard, you can climb up the ladder no matter your background.

I am an educator too, and I feel your passion about your profession. But noticing the problem but not being able to do anything about it because of the "rules" and your ideals about language and literature can not be accepted.
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  #42  
Old 22.04.2011, 17:58
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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Oh dear....
It's wonderful that you read my messages with great attention. Really. But if you had started this reading project of yours earlier, you'd had known that I teach German and French and that English is my fifth language, I have no formal education in it other than high school lessons in France.
Furthermore, you missed a sentence in my message that kind of answer your message in advance:
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It's like employing me as an English teacher, that would be pure HR incompetence.
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  #43  
Old 22.04.2011, 18:28
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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Can we dispute the current system puts immigrant kids at an unfair disadvantage? Statistics says no. Can we dispute the system puts native speakers in an advantaged position? No.
This is exactly where I aswer yes. Statistics does only show what you want to see. My statement is very simple:
1. Level of language command is weaker among immigrant students.
2. CH system already offers possibilities for bright carreer future for students totally independently of their level of command of the language.
Hence: no discrimination based on language in CH schools, because the people with the same language problems have the same carreer and education possibilities, whether they are foreign or not linguistically speaking. Swiss students with the same language command as any other given student of foreign origin does NOT have better or more perspectives in life.

What you are contesting is that language is a good tool for sorting out people in school system. That, we can discuss. France uses maths, you may prefer that. But that is as arbitrary in both cases.

We can not have the case where students of foreign origin get a bonus to make up for their statistic language disavantage. That would be a real discrimination a would be even more unfair towards the students of foreign origin who do not have language deficits and towards the Swiss students with language deficit writing more dialect than high German. Totally unfair in any context.

Obviously, your field is engeneering/technology. Fine, no problem. But that street to succes already exists in CH and is more successful than in neighbouring countries. Language skills are not determinant for that at all. I thing that the most important thing when looking at the Swiss system from abroad is to NOT underestimate the quality of education that you get in professional schools. As I said in precedent message: Two colleagues did exactly that and are now teaching in Gymnasium. Swiss teachers measure assessments with no exeption made for anybody, not for the Romansh, not for the foreign mother tongue speakers etc. It's a form of total equality as only the result, the achievement counts. If you think that children of immigrant families have no chance, then I am afraid that you have to re-read the thread because a very interesting fact is which community succeeds and which one does not... don't tell me it's easier for a Tamil to learn German or French than for an Albanian.

What we both probably agree on in an ideal world is, that selection is done too early, independently of the creteria used to do so. Having the same school for everybody until age 14 is a dream of many teachers also here in CH, but that would be introducing the French system... do you find it that good? Germans also try to change their three-class system, but when parents are asked, they are against it (last time was in Hamburg).

At that point, I would like to refer to my pervious post about my "delemma". There is quite a few things to chew on in it that I do not feel necessary to repeat here.
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  #44  
Old 22.04.2011, 18:36
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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This is exactly where I aswer yes. Statistics does only show what you want to see. My statement is very simple:
1. Level of language command is weaker among immigrant students.
2. CH system already offers possibilities for bright carreer future for students totally independently of their level of command of the language.
Hence: no discrimination based on language in CH schools, because the people with the same language problems have the same carreer and education possibilities, whether they are foreign or not linguistically speaking. Swiss students with the same language command as any other given student of foreign origin does NOT have better or more perspectives in life.

What you are contesting is that language is a good tool for sorting out people in school system. That, we can discuss. France uses maths, you may prefer that. But that is as arbitrary in both cases.

We can not have the case where students of foreign origin get a bonus to make up for their statistic language disavantage. That would be a real discrimination a would be even more unfair towards the students of foreign origin who do not have language deficits and towards the Swiss students with language deficit writing more dialect than high German. Totally unfair in any context.

Obviously, your field is engeneering/technology. Fine, no problem. But that street to succes already exists in CH and is more successful than in neighbouring countries. Language skills are not determinant for that at all. I thing that the most important thing when looking at the Swiss system from abroad is to NOT underestimate the quality of education that you get in professional schools. As I said in precedent message: Two colleagues did exactly that and are now teaching in Gymnasium. Swiss teachers measure assessments with no exeption made for anybody, not for the Romansh, not for the foreign mother tongue speakers etc. It's a form of total equality as only the result, the achievement counts. If you think that children of immigrant families have no chance, then I am afraid that you have to re-read the thread because a very interesting fact is which community succeeds and which one does not... don't tell me it's easier for a Tamil to learn German or French than for an Albanian.

What we both probably agree on in an ideal world is, that selection is done too early, independently of the creteria used to do so. Having the same school for everybody until age 14 is a dream of many teachers also here in CH, but that would be introducing the French system... do you find it that good? Germans also try to change their three-class system, but when parents are asked, they are against it (last time was in Hamburg).

At that point, I would like to refer to my pervious post about my "delemma". There is quite a few things to chew on in it that I do not feel necessary to repeat here.
you are advocating for the status quo, which doesnt work so well for a significant portion of the population regardless of how intelligent they might be. Lets not fool ourselves here, OK? Going to a professional school and a university is not the same thing, especially when it comes to being able to change things. Its a self-selected system based on elitist and sometimes downright racist considerations. Clearly, language will be the foremost criteria which will put immigrants into a disadvantage, therefore I would prefer math or any other thing over that (how about a combination of IQ tests in native language, math and science, AND language being equal weight given?). If you want to continue ignoring how the current system hurts immigrant kids, fine, what else can i say...
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  #45  
Old 22.04.2011, 18:42
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

You are advocating a university romantism that just not applies to this country. Fact of life. You make a lot of statements, you are very assertive about your opinions, which is fine, but I do not see any trace of arguments and explanations in your messages. (Now I really sound like a teacher, sorry).

There is nothing to discuss in your message, you just make assertions. You are free to do so. If you actually conduct a real argument, I will respond to it, but assersions are not to be answered. Another linguistical fact.
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Old 22.04.2011, 18:48
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

Selimhan, I assume you know that in the USA everything depends on college level degrees. If you ain't got one, you are a nobody. All you can do is having an absolutely unique business idea to save you sorry butt. And college level can be reached solely, and I say solely, through high school graduation.

In Switzerland, you can easily make a nice career without any shiny college diploma. Maybe you will even be better off than your former primary school class mates who hold all sorts of titles. And if you really want a title, there are many ways to achieve that as long as you've reached secondary school level without crashing. It's not easy, but it is feasible and it is done. Very often. That's downright impossible in the USA.

Compare these two diagrams:





See the solid horizontal bar? I think THAT is what Faltrad means.

And now please tell me again which system is more flexible and offers more opportunities for students that have certain problems, for instance with the language of the school.
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  #47  
Old 26.04.2011, 09:41
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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The best way to engeneering carreer is definitly not matura-schools but the other ones that you clame are a form of discrimination.
Well, I disagree. While it's possible to get an engineering degree other ways, most of those that I consider to be good engineers (and I consider most to be bad) are products of the ETHZ, though I've also know a couple good ones from the HTL in Rapperswil. However, I will agree that a PhD. is no guarantee that an engineer is any good.

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Old 26.04.2011, 20:25
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

No wonder the good engeneers all come from ETHZ, they are the good students sorted out to get into Gymnasium in the first place. That shows that the schools in Sekundar 1 are not that wrong. Should the other ones try to be engeneers? If I follow your reasoning, they shouldn't and frankly I don't mind only allowing good engeneers. But can't they do what ever they like and try to get a carreer? failing or succeeding is another question.

I never said they would become good ingeneers, I just said they would become ingeneers. Two reasons: I would not recognize a good from a bad one anyway (not my field) and cases of students struggling with entrance into Gymnasium but ending up geniouses in Hochschule are rare exceptions. Frankly, I don't think the selection of who is going to what type of school is that bad here... I wish more bridges would be easier to take in order to avoid being trapped somewhere in the system, yes, but when a student is struggling getting to Gymnasium, there are reasons for that and that is rarely the teacher's pedagogical choices. If it is, the student will bloom the next year and will get to Gymnasium that way. You may think that I just advocate the system, but I really don't find the selection that unfair. My experience: students who "just made it" into Gymnasium are usually too weak to stay there. Exceptions welcome, but they are not numerous at all. I also had student come over from the beruflichen or Fachmaturität, and they were not misunderstood misplaced geniouses but students "on the edge" whom chance has been given because they could work for it. Do they always succeed? No. Sometimes? yes.
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Old 27.04.2011, 00:22
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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No wonder the good engeneers all come from ETHZ, they are the good students sorted out to get into Gymnasium in the first place. That shows that the schools in Sekundar 1 are not that wrong. Should the other ones try to be engeneers? If I follow your reasoning, they shouldn't and frankly I don't mind only allowing good engeneers. But can't they do what ever they like and try to get a carreer? failing or succeeding is another question.

I never said they would become good ingeneers, I just said they would become ingeneers. Two reasons: I would not recognize a good from a bad one anyway (not my field) and cases of students struggling with entrance into Gymnasium but ending up geniouses in Hochschule are rare exceptions. Frankly, I don't think the selection of who is going to what type of school is that bad here... I wish more bridges would be easier to take in order to avoid being trapped somewhere in the system, yes, but when a student is struggling getting to Gymnasium, there are reasons for that and that is rarely the teacher's pedagogical choices. If it is, the student will bloom the next year and will get to Gymnasium that way. You may think that I just advocate the system, but I really don't find the selection that unfair. My experience: students who "just made it" into Gymnasium are usually too weak to stay there. Exceptions welcome, but they are not numerous at all. I also had student come over from the beruflichen or Fachmaturität, and they were not misunderstood misplaced geniouses but students "on the edge" whom chance has been given because they could work for it. Do they always succeed? No. Sometimes? yes.
The system you so furiously defend give native kids an unfair advantage over immigrant kids. I say lets put this on a vote here at EF, which I suspect is made up of mostly highly educated expats who may have kids at local schools, and see what they have to say on this. I bet the answer would be yes even among highly educated immigrant parents here, let alone the relatively less educated immigrant parents elsewhere.

You are a language teacher so I understand you may not be so proficient in reviewing data and statistics, but when it comes to human intelligence, such a bi-modal distribution as we see in swiss schools can ONLY hint at some sort of discrimination in the selection process. Just look at the student body at the federal institutes (ETHZ, EPFL) where the immigrants are represented so poorly. If the rules and opportunities were fair, you would never see such a messed up picture.

Are you familiar with "Affirmative Action" policy in publicly funded schools in the USA? Why do you think americans had to do this?
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Old 27.04.2011, 07:52
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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Selimhan, I assume you know that in the USA everything depends on college level degrees. If you ain't got one, you are a nobody. All you can do is having an absolutely unique business idea to save you sorry butt. And college level can be reached solely, and I say solely, through high school graduation.

In Switzerland, you can easily make a nice career without any shiny college diploma. Maybe you will even be better off than your former primary school class mates who hold all sorts of titles. And if you really want a title, there are many ways to achieve that as long as you've reached secondary school level without crashing. It's not easy, but it is feasible and it is done. Very often. That's downright impossible in the USA.

Compare these two diagrams:





See the solid horizontal bar? I think THAT is what Faltrad means.

And now please tell me again which system is more flexible and offers more opportunities for students that have certain problems, for instance with the language of the school.
I'm not so sure this diagram is comprehensive.

I taught a free community English course in the US. Several of my students, ranging in ages from 16 to mid-50s were preparing for their high school diploma equivalency tests. After that test, they would be admiited to college and proceed from there.

My mother is in her early 60s and finishing off her first university degree after dropping out of university thirty years ago.

My girlfriend is doing her degree with four children to take care of, because the school has allowed her flexibility as a parent. Not a lot, but enough to make it work.

My husband came to the US, and was admitted to comunity college on the basis of a guidance counselor who took the time to show he had equivalent skills. Now he has an MBA, which would have never been allowed in Switzerland, as he took the apprentice route here.

When I did my student teaching in the US, our school operated on the don't ask policy. We had students that were illegal immigrants, but we made sure never to ask or hand out any forms that asked about background, etc. In Switzerland, my child's forest play group application needed to know every detail of our migrant background, because otherwise they weren't sure he'd fit in. (It said that on the form) Although I really liked what he would have learned in a forest play group, I didn't proceed because I felt that they didn't understand how to teach. Only a very inexperienced teacher would be unable to teach a group of preschool age children simply because one of their parents might be foreign.

I have an endless line of examples, but I don't think your diagrams take into account the flexibility of the US system, and the teacher training that assumes all children have the right to move to higher education, and be provided with the right support. I've taught here in Switzerland, and the comments I've heard from (only some!) teachers regarding foreign students, or students with learning disabilities, would be cause for instant dismissal in the US. I'm not saying the US system isn't full of flaws, but it isn't quite so strict as your diagram shows either, and the Swiss one isn't quite as flexible.
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  #51  
Old 27.04.2011, 10:55
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Re: Kids with a native language other than German became majority in Schools in Zuric

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I'm not so sure this diagram is comprehensive.

I taught a free community English course in the US. Several of my students, ranging in ages from 16 to mid-50s were preparing for their high school diploma equivalency tests. After that test, they would be admiited to college and proceed from there.

My mother is in her early 60s and finishing off her first university degree after dropping out of university thirty years ago.

My girlfriend is doing her degree with four children to take care of, because the school has allowed her flexibility as a parent. Not a lot, but enough to make it work.

My husband came to the US, and was admitted to comunity college on the basis of a guidance counselor who took the time to show he had equivalent skills. Now he has an MBA, which would have never been allowed in Switzerland, as he took the apprentice route here.

When I did my student teaching in the US, our school operated on the don't ask policy. We had students that were illegal immigrants, but we made sure never to ask or hand out any forms that asked about background, etc. In Switzerland, my child's forest play group application needed to know every detail of our migrant background, because otherwise they weren't sure he'd fit in. (It said that on the form) Although I really liked what he would have learned in a forest play group, I didn't proceed because I felt that they didn't understand how to teach. Only a very inexperienced teacher would be unable to teach a group of preschool age children simply because one of their parents might be foreign.

I have an endless line of examples, but I don't think your diagrams take into account the flexibility of the US system, and the teacher training that assumes all children have the right to move to higher education, and be provided with the right support. I've taught here in Switzerland, and the comments I've heard from (only some!) teachers regarding foreign students, or students with learning disabilities, would be cause for instant dismissal in the US. I'm not saying the US system isn't full of flaws, but it isn't quite so strict as your diagram shows either, and the Swiss one isn't quite as flexible.

"and the comments I've heard from (only some!) teachers regarding foreign students, or students with learning disabilities, would be cause for instant dismissal in the US."

mind telling us a bit?
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