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  #281  
Old 11.12.2010, 21:16
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Re: kids in swiss school

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An interesting article today in the Migros magazine. Teacher saying that bilingualism is a definite +, but that more than 2 languages is too much and confusing, especially in reading/writing at primary stage. Examples given is mum and dad speak different languages to children (which works very well) but then problems when they have to pick up 3rd language at school. Also same as above, but with grandparents and nanny/au pair with yet another language. In this case teachers here advise to stick to 2 languages until those well established, not only orally but reading/writing - which makes sense imho.
Partially - and only partially - disagree. Confusion is a normal stage children grow out of. The difficulty with three languages is that the confusion is more complex to get straighten up.
It is all organization and time. That's the complexity and the beauty of it. I've seen sharp middle schoolers with three languages (hindi-english-german or chinese-french-german or arabic-turkish-german and one time danish-english-french) with so many different attitudes from parents and kids that I would say there is no right or wrong way of doing it.
The most difficult part? FInding TIME for each of the languages, to make them familiar and natural at all times to the children. There are only 24 hours in a day... I know.

I absolutely agree on the writing/reading part. A language is oral AND written, it's partial illiteracy and a real handicap to forget half of the language.
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  #282  
Old 12.12.2010, 14:10
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Re: kids in swiss school

Useful posts,thanks!
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  #283  
Old 12.12.2010, 19:43
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Re: kids in swiss school

Thanks for your reply. I'm actually in Baselland and I know that they have a school psychology service which is based in Binningen (or Bottmingen), I think. I expect that the school service will refer us there for an assessment but I have spoken with several people (Swiss and 'foreign') who have gone through this process in this area and recommend that I get a second report. I think that their concerns were based on how much time was spent doing the assessment.


QUOTE=simplon;1042034]I don't understand why you should look for a psychologist. Basel has got a psychologist service for schools. According to their homepage they are responsable for these questions. Please have a look here: http://www.spd-basel.ch/spdbasel/angebot/wann.html
Sorry only in German, but you can phone them and ask for an appointment.[/QUOTE]
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  #284  
Old 12.12.2010, 19:54
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Re: kids in swiss school

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An interesting article today in the Migros magazine. Teacher saying that bilingualism is a definite +, but that more than 2 languages is too much and confusing, especially in reading/writing at primary stage. Examples given is mum and dad speak different languages to children (which works very well) but then problems when they have to pick up 3rd language at school. Also same as above, but with grandparents and nanny/au pair with yet another language. In this case teachers here advise to stick to 2 languages until those well established, not only orally but reading/writing - which makes sense imho.

I recently attended a lecture by Prof from the University of Basel and and Australian Language specialist on the myths and realities of mulitlinguilism. They presented some very interesting research showing the huge benefits of multilingualism in all sorts of areas (problem solving skills/flexibility of thought/creativity etc.).
The point was also made that attitudes towards language acquisition/multiliguilism are often coloured by social or political considerations, not just cold hard research facts.
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  #285  
Old 12.12.2010, 21:54
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Re: kids in swiss school

Actual example of multilingualism at work:

Child in my class, at a bilingual (German/English) primary school (some of you may think of it as elementary ... but "Primarschule" it is!).
He started at the age of 9. His father is Swiss, his mother is Chinese. At home, he speaks Swiss-German with his father and Mandarin with his mother. Can write is Mandarin, not sure how much, but does have lessons outside school time. He was also at a Swiss public school before this, and so was fluent and literate in High German. He entered my school with no English at all.
Within eight months, he could translate instructions in lessons from English to German for other students who had been in the school for seven years (starts at age 3, with pre-school) but just didn't have the same focus. He has also had French lessons twice a week during this time, and is progressing at the same or faster rate as his age peers.

I've read a lot of research that indicates that multi-lingualism does not interfere with language acquisition and development - that the younger they start, the more languages they can handle. If you wait, then you use a different part of your brain to learn the new languages - I have seen a couple of documentaries that show this, mapping brain activity as a fluent speaker who learned their second language as an adult worked in the second language against a bilingual native speaker and then a fluent speaker who learned the second language as a young child (below six). Completely different part of the brain used by the adult learner.

Really, learning multiple languages is childs' play ...
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  #286  
Old 12.12.2010, 22:08
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Re: kids in swiss school

Yes, some kids really thrive on contact with many languages - and pick them up 'just like that'. For them 'a table' is not just a table, it has many names, and even many forms- and a sentence is not just a 'sentence' - some have inversions, verb at the end, agreement with gender, pronouns before or after, etc. and that makes things much easier in the long term - and not just for languages.
Some kids though just can't cope with more than 2, especially in writing and reading - and in this case current advice, as per article, indicates that it is a good idea to stick to 2 until difficulties are overcome, and I do think it makes sense. I've known some children who have fallen in the 'many languages but none' category, and had great difficulties in other subjects, partly for this reason. It's all linked.
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  #287  
Old 12.12.2010, 22:31
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Re: kids in swiss school

The number made me react.
For some kids, it will be max.2
For others, it will be max.3...
and so forth.

And we all know some children for whom one language is already too much and get quickly to their limits. Expandable limits, yes, but still, very much limiting limits.
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  #288  
Old 12.12.2010, 22:33
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Yes, some kids really thrive on contact with many languages - and pick them up 'just like that'. For them 'a table' is not just a table, it has many names, and even many forms- and a sentence is not just a 'sentence' - some have inversions, verb at the end, agreement with gender, pronouns before or after, etc. and that makes things much easier in the long term - and not just for languages.
Some kids though just can't cope with more than 2, especially in writing and reading - and in this case current advice, as per article, indicates that it is a good idea to stick to 2 until difficulties are overcome, and I do think it makes sense. I've known some children who have fallen in the 'many languages but none' category, and had great difficulties in other subjects, partly for this reason. It's all linked.
Speaking of links, is there one to an online version of this article?
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  #289  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:05
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hello, we are moving to Buochs at the beginning of August, I have 2 girls, Eimile aged 12 and Giorgia 9. For the past 10 years we have been living in Italy and my girls are fluent in English and Italian. Eimile got an average of 7, in her first year of secondary, Giorgia got 9 in most of her subjects.

I have just learnt that both my children will have to repeat a year at the state school in Buochs. Eimile will go into year 6, and Giorgia 'understufe' ?(they don't mention a year as such).

Is this normal for the Swiss schools to do this?
Have other ex-pats had this?

I would have liked them to be given the chance to be with children their own age as they've already showed ability picking up a new language and are bright enough?
Am I just worrying over nothing?
Would love to hear from anyone with any experience on this please?
Thank-you, Michelle
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  #290  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:19
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Re: kids in swiss school

It is hard to accept, but I'd say it might well make sense. That will allow your kids to get up to speed with the 3rd language, whilst learning things which won't be too much of a challenge. Then next year, they will be able to pick up more complex learning without the limitation of not understanding, not being able to express ideas, read or write. Going 'back' a year when your friends are going ahead is really tough- but for them it will be all new.
Failing the first year here, and having to repeat it, would be much more painful and damaging, don't you think. Welcome and good luck with everything.
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  #291  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:22
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Re: kids in swiss school

Sounds normal procedure. They seem quite relaxed about having a wide range of ages in one class. When we came to Bern three years ago from the UK, our three (then aged 10, 12 and 13) spent two terms in a special language class, where they had normal lessons, but in German.

I don't know how the Italian system compares with the Swiss system, but we found that our children were at least a year ahead, coming from UK, so there was no problem with fitting in with the appropriate age. The only major problem we had was when our eldest was not recommended for Gymnasium - he had to repeat a year and then take the entrance exam (we detected a certain "attitude" amongst the teaching staff regarding foreign pupils going to Gymnasium). So he will be nearly two years older than some of his classmates.

The other thing which took a bit of getting used to is that parents aren't expected to interfere in their children's schooling - the teachers are the experts, so they decide what is best for the children. You have to be diplomatic to get what you want.
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  #292  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:24
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Re: kids in swiss school

It's quite common to repeat a class, and some do a few times, too. It's viewed as giving the child some extra help. One thing is to be with same age buddies, another is to be in a class that is slower and less demanding and offering more opportunity to soak up the local language.

I'd ask why this is being done, too, just so the school communicates the reasons. I wouldn't worry too much, though, being immersed in a local school will not only give them local friends but it's a faster way to learn the language. Being a year older (and stronger) might also protect them from being picked on, a child not speaking a language could be a target for some kid menace.
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  #293  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:36
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Re: kids in swiss school

Jern, the fact is, a Gymnasium is so different from a UK 6th Form, where kids chose 4 subjects for AS in Year 12, then narrow down to 3 for A'Levels in Year 13. And where vocational and academic courses can be taken as a mix. The jump to Gymnasium is HUGE- and all subjects need to be continued- so an excellent level of the local language + 1 other national language. One of the reasons why it is best to start a year behind, and allow the child/ren to acquire a good knowledge of the local + another national language before getting to Gymnasium. In the UK, foreign kids can do so well in the 6th Form by choosing subjects where a perfect mastery of English is not so important, and dropping subjects where it is. So many of our foreign children in my 6th Form in the UK studied sciences, maths and IT- and excelled. This is just not possible in CH (or anywhere else in Europe btw).
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  #294  
Old 06.07.2011, 18:48
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Re: kids in swiss school

While there may well be no issue with repeating a year, and it's often the best thing, if it bothers you check the regulations in your Canton. In BL German language ability, when neither parent is a German speaker, must be disregarded in the first year of evaluation, and can be disregarded (at discretion) in later years.

The difference between Gym and pre-Gym seems to be that in Gym, rote learning won't get your through. You have to start thinking independantly and applying knowledge.
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  #295  
Old 06.07.2011, 19:35
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Re: kids in swiss school

AND have the linguistics skills to express their evaluation, judgement, etc- in 2 foreign languages, where the child will have to write essays, etc.
Most kids have difficulty in doing this in their own language- as the type of structures, language, needed to write a formal essay is just not part of a teenagers language (or most adults).
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  #296  
Old 06.07.2011, 20:02
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Jern, the fact is, a Gymnasium is so different from a UK 6th Form, where kids chose 4 subjects for AS in Year 12, then narrow down to 3 for A'Levels in Year 13. And where vocational and academic courses can be taken as a mix. The jump to Gymnasium is HUGE- and all subjects need to be continued- so an excellent level of the local language + 1 other national language. One of the reasons why it is best to start a year behind, and allow the child/ren to acquire a good knowledge of the local + another national language before getting to Gymnasium. In the UK, foreign kids can do so well in the 6th Form by choosing subjects where a perfect mastery of English is not so important, and dropping subjects where it is. So many of our foreign children in my 6th Form in the UK studied sciences, maths and IT- and excelled. This is just not possible in CH (or anywhere else in Europe btw).
Interestingly, the Gymnasiums in Bern offer several subjects in English (Histrory, Maths, Sciences for example). Not intended for English-mother-tongue-speakers, but nevertheless a good opportunity for students who find the English aspect easy. By the way, I think the Swiss education system is excellent. It's just very Swiss - well organised and unspectacular.
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Old 06.07.2011, 20:29
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Re: kids in swiss school

Wow! Thanks for all that!
Thank-you again everyone for helping.....have told Eimile and Giorgia that they were repeating a year, they weren't bothered, just excited about the school and meeting friends.
Just sharing this with you has put my mind at ease, thank you!

Another thing, how do you thank everyone's individual post? I can't see it anywhere, sorry
(serious newbie!)
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  #298  
Old 06.07.2011, 20:30
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Wow! Thanks for all that!
Thank-you again everyone for helping.....have told Eimile and Giorgia that they were repeating a year, they weren't bothered, just excited about the school and meeting friends.
Just sharing this with you has put my mind at ease, thank you!

Another thing, how do you thank everyone's individual post? I can't see it anywhere, sorry
(serious newbie!)
It's ok, we were all noobs once.

When you have ten posts, you will be able to thank and groan.
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  #299  
Old 06.07.2011, 21:27
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Re: kids in swiss school

very interesting thread, quite a long read but answered many questions...
I am planning to move in the early part of next year and my daughter will be turning 12 and in grade 6 here is SA, would it be beneficial if I sent her for german classes now? I've tried introducing what little I know but she is getting it confused with her second language here (Afrikaans) and because of this her grades in Afrikaans are dropping slighty (similiar sentence structure and (some)words but completely different spelling.) She does 3 languages at school (English, Afrikaans & Xhosa) and I wonder if throwing a fourth one in the mix would be harmful or helpful at this stage....
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Old 06.07.2011, 21:58
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Re: kids in swiss school

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In BL German language ability, when neither parent is a German speaker, must be disregarded in the first year of evaluation, and can be disregarded (at discretion) in later years.
In BS and BL, I can say that there is no special treatment when we grade Matura. What you are talking about is daily business at school, and I know teachers who don't care at all even then.
Repeating a year for gymnasium is in my experience always a good idea, almost always a necessity (the Germans excepted, of course).
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