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  #81  
Old 14.05.2007, 15:06
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Re: kids in swiss school

Both Dawiz and Hayley's points are valid. I think part of the issue for English speakers is that we have it easier, growing up in England, I've rarely been confronted with a foreign language other than French lessons at school and the film Amelie. Where as any where else, you get US/UK music, films and slogans flung at you constantly.

It amuses me to see the ads on Swiss TV in German, French or Italian then the final strap line is then in English.

Dawiz, you are right, we should try to learn the native language, and Hayley, you are right, it isn't easy especially if you start later on in life.

Cheers/A bientôt
Chris
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  #82  
Old 14.05.2007, 15:13
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Sorry but I resent the message that its just an easy matter of picking up the langugae. I know that having the languge is important and useful thankyou very much.

I know alot of english people who are trying desparetely to learn German. I know they struggle alot, and I do myself. I have been here nearly 3 years and have always been trying to get better in German.
I have had so much negative feedback from german speakers (not ness swiss) and been so discouraged, Yet I keep trying.

I hate it when people think that picking up a language is the same as picking up a cold. It is a skill, and it takes effort and talent. I really admire people who speak two or more languages. I have so much respect for you. But please remeber that some people have a more natural affinity for languages, and others have to work really hard and it takes much longer. Also many people here switch to english, which is very nice of them, but makes it that much harder to keep motivated with the German. Motivation is hard, when you ask to keep speaking in german, and the other person still switches to english.

The english speakers I know who have learnt german quickly are the ones who had the time and money to go very intensive and do 4 hours every week day. For several months. However this is not possible for everyone, and the rest of us have to do what we can.

Sorry this is a rant, but it really really gets on my nerves when people make out the british are lazy and cant be bothered, becuase some of us even cry over our german homework!!! (me that is)

In my experience, ppl think to learn a new language is a doodle and are frustrated when after having had a few lessons, they still can not speak with a native in a longer discussion
Don't think I make fun out of you,but try to read with your child a picture book or a comic in german, then u both will learn,slowly but surely!
Watch german speaking telly and add the subtext as well,it's often easier to understand something in writing than when it's spoken,same with dvd,s buy a film u know in english on a dvd and then watch it with german text and sound.
One thing I know that helps to get an easier feeling for swiss german, is if you buy swiss children songs tapes/cd's and sing along to them with your child.When u do that in the privacy of your home,then you can belt out and have a giggle and addtionally learn as well
This may sound daft to some, but i know it works!
Never expect too much too quick,set yourself tiny goals that are achievable,like order your train ticket/menu/newspaper in german if possible,teeny weensy steps like that will lead you to the goal quicker than,unreachable ideas of I will be able to speak fluently in one year!!!!

Another idea is, that you meet up with ppl in your situation for a coffee at one's home or in public,and then you agree to speak german ( for example) for one hour with this people,don't mind the mistakes or your grammar or so,in a group like that oyu are on a same level and you can help each other and it's more fun than with a teacher that corrects you all the time
Also to chat online via a messenger programme or in the chatroom in this forum could also help

best of luck to all who want to learn another language to their mothertongue
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  #83  
Old 14.05.2007, 15:47
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Sorry but I resent the message that its just an easy matter of picking up the langugae. I know that having the languge is important and useful thankyou very much.

That's not what I said / meant. I know it isn't easy to learn a new language when you aren't 16 anymore. I'm trying to learn Spanish at the moment and it has been very frustrating so far.
I just meant that it's necessary, despite it being difficult and time-consuming - everybody's able to learn a foreign language to a degree that communicating with the locals becomes easy and more pleasant.
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  #84  
Old 14.05.2007, 21:10
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Switzerland again is so not the norm. I am here on exchange for a year, and I come from Australia. Swiss people and their childern are not raised to invite you back to their homes! Honestly it is true. I had read the stories and I am in one and they don't do it.It isn't meant to be mean! Honestly I don't think they realise it. I am positive your daughters school and social will improve. I don't know why they do this. I honestly thought they hated me and go so depressed. It is hard, but it is easier for little kids. Try and take your daughter and a friend from class somewhere else instead of at home...maybe that will make your daughter feel better. I wish you all the best and wish I could help! It is so annoying how they work but thats the swiss and you gotta take the good with the bad.Take careLauren
I don't think this is always the case with Swiss parents. My son gets regular invites to his school friends houses to play and they also come to our house. He also has nearly all of his class mates coming to his birthday party. My German is not so great but all the other mothers try their best to converse with me and help me out when I get stuck on a word. Maybe we are just lucky where we live.
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  #85  
Old 14.05.2007, 21:36
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hi,
We moved from Winterthur to darkest Stgallen and tiny tiny place called Dicken over a year ago .... I have 2 kids Nimuè 4+ and Gwydion 6 , My son is in the local kindergarten and we have had no problems with the kids.. BUT my wife a swiss girl has had the problems .. the swiss country folks can be a suspicious at first , they had to get used to a Brit speaking fluent swiss german with a sussex accent but once I got them all past the Sie Herr Perks and forced the Simon Du form apon them it got better...

I must say that my kids were the ultimate bridge for forming good local relationships .

It could be that the the other swiss kids parents are kinda scared of the language thing ...

I remember being in kindergarten in Interlaken (1972) and both my mum and dad spoke no german of any kind - being a cold war situation we were surrounded by american soldiers so there was english in the background ... however many years later when i came back the language was like riding a bike again.

Kid^s are like a sponge , they learn it so fast ... ask your kids for help you will be surprised.

Hang on in there all will be ok.... just give them swiss a bit of time
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  #86  
Old 15.05.2007, 01:15
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Re: kids in swiss school

When I was in the elementary school in the late eighties, early nineties, I often was at other child's homes and they at mine. Not every day but often enough. Sometimes for lunch and often because of birthday parties. I think a birthday party is a good opportunity to get a kid in closer contact with its classmates.

This was in the city of Zürich. My younger cousins go to school in a rural corner of the canton and they have friends not only among their neighbors, bot also among their classmates... and still invite them over.

On a sidenote:

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I remember being in kindergarten in Interlaken (1972) and both my mum and dad spoke no german of any kind - being a cold war situation we were surrounded by american soldiers so there was english in the background...
American soldiers in Switzerland? I don't think that happened often after 1945!
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Old 15.05.2007, 08:55
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Re: kids in swiss school - side note

Cold war.... lots of co-operation that you probly don't know about .. there was a plan from the russians to send tanks towards spain to take the ports there so the alies had a counter plan .. poor old switzerland was kinda in the middle , i think you will find that the soldiers were trainers not fighters .. me dad was in some radio bunker up the mountains ... and isn't a lot of the swiss equipment from the USA ?
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Old 15.05.2007, 10:40
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Re: kids in swiss school

Well this sounds plausible. I know that back then, "team red" always attacked from the east in military scenarios. Your statement that you've been "surrounded" by American soldiers, probably even in uniform, made me think of postwar Germany but not Switzerland first, so thanks for clarifying this.

Sorry for dragging this thread off topic...
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  #89  
Old 15.05.2007, 18:03
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Re: kids in swiss school

We have recently moved to Basel from the UK (one month ago) and have put our two children (9 and 11) into local schools for many of the reasons mentioned (mainly integration as my husband has a local contract and also cost - we can afford more space at home!).

So far our experience has been positive. Both children are happy to go off in the morning (they love the freedom of going to school by themselves) and I can already see they are picking up some language from both their class situation and the extra German lessons provided by the local education system. I would question the three year difference between what our children are learning now and what they were learning in the UK. School may start at different ages, and I would agree that they have covered some of what they do at their Swiss schools, but it certainly isn't a three year gap by any stretch of the imagination. In the OS my daughter attends, her curriculum is much broader than at the same age in her English school.

Both children have had invites from other children in their class, but I'm not worrying too much about that side of things yet. We have plenty of children in the neighbourhood of many nationalities and they all seem to play together pretty well. I'll put some energy to that in August when they start the new school year - I think they have enough to cope with already. We spend a fair amount of time with the dictionary out just to figure out what the maths homework means!

I am have started German lessons and have met some of the neighbours, but integration will need to come from me I think. Another great source of people with similar experiences and also children are the international / English speaking churches. We've tried the Basel Christian Fellowship and they have been so supportive and friendly - and there many nationalities there.

Time will tell if this is a smart choice (people keep telling me how brave we are!), but I am aiming to be as supportive as I can to the children and to help their integration. The local expat community/network is also being fantastic and this is a mixture of those with children in the international/bilingual schools and also the local schools.

Just to close - both my children have said how glad they are we live in Switzerland. I know that some of this is the lovely weather we've had since we moved, but a lot of it is the freedom and responsibility that Swiss children seem to have that doesn't exist in many places in the UK now. I see this as a 'whole life' experience, with education a big but not exclusive part of this.

Rach
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  #90  
Old 15.05.2007, 22:38
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Re: kids in swiss school

I have been reading your information about schools. I am returning to Basel with my son of 11 years and am rather anxious for him as I have been reading all the messages re problems other children have experienced at swiss schools. My son will be attending last year in Primary School in Basel and I would be interested in your information of schools available. We would be looking at Reinach,Arlesheim area .Have you any advice you can give. I am hoping to be involved in the community and start up a art class to help settle my son.Do you know of any pen pal groups as this would also benefit my son when we arrive end of July.Thanks for any response you can give
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Old 15.05.2007, 22:39
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Re: kids in swiss school

I have been reading your information about schools. I am returning to Basel with my son of 11 years and am rather anxious for him as I have been reading all the messages re problems other children have experienced at swiss schools. My son will be attending last year in Primary School in Basel and I would be interested in your information of schools available. We would be looking at Reinach,Arlesheim area .Have you any advice you can give. I am hoping to be involved in the community and start up a art class to help settle my son.Do you know of any pen pal groups as this would also benefit my son when we arrive end of July.Thanks for any response you can give
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  #92  
Old 27.05.2007, 21:32
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Re: kids in swiss school

Sorry to hear your problems in the Swiss system. Kids can be fickle and my own (also an Auslander in the Swiss system) is OK and has a couple of friends, but recently her and two others seemed to close another out, for no apparent reason... to my horror.

It could also be a case of the arrangements are usually made by phone with parents calling you, and if you cannot speak german of course they won't call. Why don't you go and visit the other kids houses with some cakes or something? Make yourself known to them.

As I don't know which area you live in, its hard to recommend groups but there is an English language parenting magazine in Switzerland called The New Stork Times. The owner is based in Zurich but the mag goes all over Switzerland and they have set up Stork parenting groups and mums & Tots clubs all over Switzerland. It may be worth getting on to that. The website (which at this moment didnt work but usually does) is www.thestork.ch

I hope this can be of help. If you are in Kanton Zurich, the WAC Uster is pretty amazing if you can get there ... lifesaving for many, many English speaking women.

Give us an update!!

Lisa
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  #93  
Old 12.06.2007, 21:39
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Re: kids in swiss school

This is a message to all of you - Things will get better, I'm sure.
We came straight to Canton Vaud from South Africa. (My husband is Swiss, from that canton, but had been living in SA for 27 years) My kids were 13 and 16 at the time. And despite having a french speaking Father, couldn't utter a word in the language except "bonjour". We said we would give it a year, and then decide to go back home if things didin't work out.
Perhaps this is the best canton to be in? Perhaps the German speaking population are a bit staunch? Though all I had so far met were very kind (and there are really a loootttttttt of Swiss Germans in S.A.) And of course, we had all of my husbands' family here for support.
Within days of being put into a "classe d'acceuil" my daughter, who is very outgoing anyway, had made numerous friends - but none of them were Swiss of course! (Well nothing wrong with that - we are all foreigners after all) So much so, that I was begging her to stop bringing so many people home for lunch! She still has those same friends today.
My son of 16 took a bit longer to settle in. But even he found an English friend. He, being older, had more of a problem with the language - but nevetherless, got excellent grades at school. He even had to learn German at school, being in an older grade.
Seven years on, both of my kids would never dream of leaving! Even though my husband and I sometimes get "homesick" we could never leave either, because we can't leave them behind.
My daughter is now married (very young at 20) and has a darling baby girl - so we could never leave her. She is the apple of our eyes. And my son has started his own business!
So to all of you - there is hope out there if you hang on.
Good luck and I hope this message inspires you all.
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Old 14.06.2007, 12:35
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Re: kids in swiss school

Personally, I think Swiss private schools are utter rubbish. (I did 1 semester in Swiss private school and two years in England) We were learning Roman history from Asterix and our English teacher could not pronounce H sounds in the beginning of words. They are for kids of dictators and Arab millionaires.
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Old 14.06.2007, 13:20
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Re: kids in swiss school

Actually, Canadian dude, I think most parents are talking here about the normal Swiss schools. Mostly, when kids come here, they will be put into a Welcome class until they learn to speak the language, and before being placed into their correct grade. I think this quite a great system, and IT'S FREE!! And I think that it's very snobbish not to use it. It's just very weird - all the kids are speaking different languages, and can't even speak to each other until they learn to speak French (unless they find mates of their own language) My daughter had all these friends, coming home for lunch, but they hardly spoke at all - it was more of a sign language for the first weeks - but they do learn very fast, kids. It's a pity that some children do not fit in that well, and sometimes the parents have no option, but to place them in a private school. My son took quite a while to adjust, being 16 and shy, and we were worried that we might have had to do this as well, but fortunately it worked out. And I agree about the private schools being for millionaires - before coming here, we did not know about this "Welcome system" , and had been looking at the private schools - wow! you NEED to be a millionaire.
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Old 14.06.2007, 13:35
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Re: kids in swiss school

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Actually, Canadian dude, I think most parents are talking here about the normal Swiss schools. Mostly, when kids come here, they will be put into a Welcome class until they learn to speak the language, and before being placed into their correct grade. I think this quite a great system, and IT'S FREE!! And I think that it's very snobbish not to use it. It's just very weird - all the kids are speaking different languages, and can't even speak to each other until they learn to speak French (unless they find mates of their own language) My daughter had all these friends, coming home for lunch, but they hardly spoke at all - it was more of a sign language for the first weeks - but they do learn very fast, kids. It's a pity that some children do not fit in that well, and sometimes the parents have no option, but to place them in a private school. My son took quite a while to adjust, being 16 and shy, and we were worried that we might have had to do this as well, but fortunately it worked out. And I agree about the private schools being for millionaires - before coming here, we did not know about this "Welcome system" , and had been looking at the private schools - wow! you NEED to be a millionaire.
I agree with Jennifer here, although the "Welcome Class" is not universal (maybe down the French part but not in SG). Even between schools in the same district it can be different. I have heard of a welcome class idea, but also that new children may go into a "Kleineclasse" which is the class for kids with learning difficulties and children going through that system can be stigmatised.

Our twins (10 at the time) were simply dropped in the deep end and placed in a normal class for their agegroup. They received 3 hours of extra German a week (free) but had a difficult first few months - after which they were fine and are now doing very well. As I see it, they got German for free and the fact they learned a second language is enabling them to learn French more easily - and at least one will satrt Italian next year. It's brilliant.

Our older daughter went to private school - not even bilingual for which we now kick ourselves - and in my opinion the education at the Swiss state school is superior in terms of depth and breadth and in producing the complete person. We sent her back to the UK to a state boarding school (we are so mean to her) where she is getting a good education.
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Old 14.06.2007, 15:26
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Re: kids in swiss school

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I agree with Jennifer here, although the "Welcome Class" is not universal (maybe down the French part but not in SG). Even between schools in the same district it can be different. I have heard of a welcome class idea, but also that new children may go into a "Kleineclasse" which is the class for kids with learning difficulties and children going through that system can be stigmatised.

Our twins (10 at the time) were simply dropped in the deep end and placed in a normal class for their agegroup. They received 3 hours of extra German a week (free) but had a difficult first few months - after which they were fine and are now doing very well. As I see it, they got German for free and the fact they learned a second language is enabling them to learn French more easily - and at least one will satrt Italian next year. It's brilliant.

Our older daughter went to private school - not even bilingual for which we now kick ourselves - and in my opinion the education at the Swiss state school is superior in terms of depth and breadth and in producing the complete person. We sent her back to the UK to a state boarding school (we are so mean to her) where she is getting a good education.
Gosh - I am sorry about the welcome class not being universal. I just assumed that all Cantons had them. What a shame!
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Old 14.06.2007, 15:30
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Gosh - I am sorry about the welcome class not being universal. I just assumed that all Cantons had them. What a shame!
Parts of Canton Bern also have them but sadly not everywhere .It also depends on demand , as rough rule of thumb I'd say; where there are more foreign migrants moving to an area ,chances are there will be such a class
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Old 14.06.2007, 15:37
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Re: kids in swiss school

the teachers are not very motivated, and hence dont really motivate the students...this I can only speak of the schools my daughters went to. They were already told in primary school that it would be beter if they went to seckundar and not to bezirk school as being non swiss they will struggle..!! well they did land up in Bezirk school.. and there too were told that Kantonal school might not be the right option.. ..
Had I not believed in their ability.. they would not be doing their Masters in Geneva and St. Gallen.. they steer most of the students in doing an apprenticeship.. which is of course good.. but wanting to go into academics cant just be the privilege of swiss students...!!!

Last edited by zanskar; 14.06.2007 at 15:50.
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Old 14.06.2007, 15:45
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Re: kids in swiss school

Hi There,
I have felt the same way in our 4 months stay here. My daughter is going to the local french school. She is a very outgoing and social person but till date hasn't made a single good freind in school. When my husband asked her who her freind was in school she didn't have any answer. it really broke our heart. Although I go to pick her up everyday and have tried my best to talk to everybody who is willing to I still feel very left out. So I can imagine how she would feel.
I am taking language classes but is not easy. Ditto for my daughter she is not finding it easy as well. Although we have not had any out and out unpleasant experience I can see the underlying reseve and hesistation from the local crowd. I have tried asking her classmates over for playdates but the moms usually give me an excuse and even when I am standing talking and they are making plans for the summer holidays of sleepovers/ swimming etc. we have not been included,although we all live within walking distances.

Me and my husband have decided to bite the bullet and applied at the international schools for next term. It will make a hole in our pocket , but atleast it will not make my child feel inferior and "foreign". If we had the option we would not have moved her, but we feel as of now it is not an option but a necessity. I feel it may impeove both mine and my daughters social life.
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