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Old 23.06.2009, 15:43
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English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

Hi,


we have little boy who before long will go to a nursery school/kindergarten, maybe even to a childcare place or a playing group before that. We had an online look around, and there seem to be some places in Basle, but while a website might look impeccably English, if you dig a bit deeper, you'll sometimes find that the new children welcomed in their newsletter mostly have distinctly German first names. In fact, they're even conspicuously silent about who's teaching sometimes.

Is that just so, and in the worst case, my son will come home with a German or a Swiss accent, or are there differences between the schools? Also, are some schools more American and others more British?

Thankful for any help!
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Old 23.06.2009, 15:59
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

Hi Barly, I went to school here when I was younger (however not the international school, I just lived near 2 of Zürich's international schools and knew some other kids from there) and have babysat for a number of international families. Just about everyone I work with now has kids at the international schools in Basel and from my understanding, yes there are different international schools some of which are more American and others which are British.
Some schools also teach more hours of classes in German than others and the students are usually from all over (many from my experience have one swiss parent and the other foreign). Nearly all of the international school teachers that I know of or have met have been from an English speaking country, but I believe that there are many different nationalities of teachers.
The other thing that I would like to point out that it depends on how young your son is. If he's very young (which by the sounds of things he is) they can get a little bit confused with the language (if the kids that he hangs around with are german or he has a lot of german classes), but that's a very minor issue that usually sorts itself out no problems especially if you are speaking English at home. It's also a great way for them to pick up German! The main accent you'll have to worry about is your boy picking up another English accent!
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Old 23.06.2009, 16:06
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

Thanks!

My fear is much less that he ends up with another English accent, of course, and German lessons, or other subjects taught in German probably won't hurt, but if most of the other children have a German accent, it might be better to send him to a German-speaking school and just rely on English at home, I'm afraid.

Are there any parents around here who have made good or bad experiences?
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Old 23.06.2009, 16:14
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

The children who go to international schools are not necessarily native English speakers. Their parents may work for international companies and move from one country to another. So for them being taught in English gives consistancy to their education. It also gives them a good opportunity to have a better level of English than otherwise, and for that reason there may be Swiss children attending.
For a native English speaking child there is less advantage. Why not send him to local school, learning German will be a big plus for him?
That is what we did, and would do again given the choice, without any doubt.
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Old 23.06.2009, 20:36
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

we're very satisfied with the local swiss school...if you plan to stay a while - it could be an advantage for him to learn a new language - and in this multi cultural society, there will be english kids in his class anyway...
from an accent point of view, i work with some locals and they definitely speak swinglish - very entertaining - but i doubt that it would be a problem at school...
search with school basel english german - i saw at least 4 links that would be interesting to read...
Which international School in Basel
Moving to Basel - Which Kindergarten for my Son?
http://www.englishforum.ch/family-ma...-any-good.html

the language debate is a challenge to most of us as parents and you'll find discussions around it all over, but these refer to basel...
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Old 23.06.2009, 20:47
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

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we have little boy who before long will go to a nursery school/kindergarten, maybe even to a childcare place or a playing group before that. We had an online look around, and there seem to be some places in Basle, but while a website might look impeccably English, if you dig a bit deeper, you'll sometimes find that the new children welcomed in their newsletter mostly have distinctly German first names.
My daughter was born and raised here (19 now) and only attended the Swiss public schools. Her English sounds almost like she grew up on the West Coast of the USA and not in Switzerland. I know an American woman here, she teaches English to the locals and has 2 children the same age as my daughter. Her children speak English with a very distinctive Swissgerman accent. Go figure..
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Old 24.06.2009, 10:49
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

Thanks again, everbody; I'll have a look at the other links meanwhile.
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Old 24.06.2009, 14:21
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

Your mother tongue usually comes from your parents - it's possible to have several 'mother tongues'...

I used to love the way I could tell which teacher had taught my children new words - my daughter had one Sri-Lankan/Australian teacher and one Chinese/Malaysian/Australian teacher...I could always tell which teacher taught them the word....of for that matter if my mother taught them, as she comes from a different area of Australia and there is some variation...

Then I'd just repeat the word once in my own accent...and they never said it with a SriLankan/Indian/Chinese/Malaysian accent again.

I think you are underestimating two things by worrying about your child's 'mother tongue'
- you are your child's main source of 'mother tongue'.
- your own accent is not as 'pure' as you possibly think it is.

Kids who speak 'broken' english don't do that because they have mixed two languages together, but because the example their parents have given is of two languages mixed together...if you speak 'unbroken' english, then your children will speak 'unbroken' english...

Personally, I am more concerned about my children's German teachers - as 'SwissGerman' is a dialect and could be considered to be 'broken' German, or become Broken German if the teacher is native swiss-german trying to speak high-german and ending up speaking a combination of both...because we only speak English at home, so they are relying mostly on their teachers and classmates for good examples of German.

The other thing I noticed was that my children's awareness and clarity of speech improved greatly when they learnt to *read* - because in English we don't say all the letters of the words...there are so many exceptions where what is written does not match what is said...so reading enhances spoken language just as spoken language vocabulary and enrichment helps with reading...

Hope that helps and is not too confusing?
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Old 24.06.2009, 14:31
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

A young girl who babysits occasionally for us was born and raised here with one Swiss parent and an American parent. Her English is perfect and she has an American accent.

She went into the Swiss local system.

Conversely, my husband, who has one British parent and one Swiss parent, was born, raised and educated here, has a slight Swiss accent but it hasn't held him back by any means.

To the OP I would concentrate more on the quality of your son's education and put the implications on his accent way down on your list of priorities.

Presumably he gets enough exposure to "native" English when he is at home with his family so it should smooth things out for him.
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Old 24.06.2009, 15:31
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

A good friend of mine married a Chinese wife. He speaks to the children in good English and she speaks to them in broken English with strains of Swiss German mingled in. It is interesting to see the kids (ages about 5 to 9) speak to their father in decent English and speak to their mother in the same mix that she speaks to them. It is amazing how children pick these things up and imitate.

In hindsight, she might have done them a better service speaking Chinese to them. they could have grown up bilingually.
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Old 24.06.2009, 23:25
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

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A good friend of mine married a Chinese wife. He speaks to the children in good English and she speaks to them in broken English with strains of Swiss German mingled in. It is interesting to see the kids (ages about 5 to 9) speak to their father in decent English and speak to their mother in the same mix that she speaks to them.
Fascinating!
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Old 29.06.2009, 22:19
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

My 5 year old son and I arrived in Basel almost a month ago. I enrolled him into the local Swiss Kindergarten system and he absolutely loves it there!One of the boys, who unfortunately is leaving kindergarten to go to school next term, speaks English and Swiss German. He was a great help to my son settling in but his teachers do speak English reasonably.

In the street the kids all wave at him and shout his name so he's obviously joining in at the kindergarten and making friends. The language is no way holding him back. On Mondays and Thursdays he gets language lessons and is saying the odd word now. His teacher thinks he'll be speaking Swiss German well by Xmas and fluent by next Spring. I'm delighted with that.

It's a hard decision to make, I spent months wondering what I should do but the fact that he's happy at kindergarten proves that I made the right decision (saving some CHF15,000 in the process!)

Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 30.06.2009, 02:00
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Re: English-speaking schools: how German are they? [especially Basle area]

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Personally, I am more concerned about my children's German teachers - as 'SwissGerman' is a dialect and could be considered to be 'broken' German, or become Broken German if the teacher is native swiss-german trying to speak high-german and ending up speaking a combination of both...because we only speak English at home, so they are relying mostly on their teachers and classmates for good examples of German.
My kids only watch German TV and as a result they both speak very good High German, to the point that Germans have a hard time believing they are Swiss! Strange thing is that they normally talk to each other in High German as well, rather than in Swiss German or English!

Good luck with that,

Jim.
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