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Old 22.11.2012, 01:48
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

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No, no, no believe me.

Put people from Switzerland, Belgium, France and Canada, that is all French speakers, and make them speak English.

You will find that Canada will win (obvious) following by Switzerland and Belgium. Then you know who.
Not fair for the French, as France is the only of the four countries where French is majority language.
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Old 22.11.2012, 09:35
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

So much of this is due to age. I live in a small village and I find that the younger people (under 50) that live there (and in my building) speak English at a level that is easily understandable. It is when you get to people above 50 that there is a drop off. I have yet to meet a senior citizen in my village that has any english.
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Old 22.11.2012, 15:06
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

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So much of this is due to age. I live in a small village and I find that the younger people (under 50) that live there (and in my building) speak English at a level that is easily understandable. It is when you get to people above 50 that there is a drop off. I have yet to meet a senior citizen in my village that has any english.
Oddly enough, I've had almost the opposite experience. 'Round this corner of SZ, the post-50 generation tends to have decent English - and excellent French. (And probably a few others thrown in for good measure.)

Foreign language proficiency seems to diminish, though, with younger generations. Many 20-somethings in my village only seem comfortable when speaking German.

Not sure why this is, especially when younger folks are so well-traveled.

But then, my German is faulty and my French downright laughable, so I'm careful not to throw stones whilst living in my glass house.
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Old 22.11.2012, 16:39
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

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Oddly enough, I've had almost the opposite experience. 'Round this corner of SZ, the post-50 generation tends to have decent English - and excellent French. (And probably a few others thrown in for good measure.)

Foreign language proficiency seems to diminish, though, with younger generations. Many 20-somethings in my village only seem comfortable when speaking German.

Not sure why this is, especially when younger folks are so well-traveled.

But then, my German is faulty and my French downright laughable, so I'm careful not to throw stones whilst living in my glass house.
"Well-travelled" ? Here you have it. People who grew up between 1945 and 1980 were used to German not being widely understood in the world and the Germans being DISliked in most places. Nowadays, among younger people, the Germans enjoy a good reputation generally and German is understood in quite many places. It cannot be compared with English or French, but the advance is remarkable. Which unfortunately encourages linguistic lazyness of many people.
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Old 22.11.2012, 17:19
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

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as I am from Canada, I know you are quite wrong about that.There are lots of francophones in Canada who don't even understand English. They are in the majority, I would believe. There are many more anglophones who live in a French area who don't understand a word of French.
If one lives in and works in a French area, I don't really see their need for speaking English. It's up to them if they want to broaden their language skills...
I lived in Quebec for a chunk of my childhood and we had to be told not to speak English during recess and class. Even though half the class barely spoke english, we still tried. I did however live in Montreal where people seem to learn english via osmosis.

Thing is, there's no need to learn Calculus either, but people generally learn that in high school... It actually bothers me there isn't more French in Canada because of the growing availability of french immersion. At least in my extended immigrant family, everyone puts their kids in French Immersion, seems foolish to pass up another free language. I really wonder why these immersion schools are not more popular in Europe.
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Old 22.11.2012, 23:21
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Re: English proficiency amongst the Swiss

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I lived in Quebec for a chunk of my childhood and we had to be told not to speak English during recess and class. Even though half the class barely spoke english, we still tried. I did however live in Montreal where people seem to learn english via osmosis.

Thing is, there's no need to learn Calculus either, but people generally learn that in high school... It actually bothers me there isn't more French in Canada because of the growing availability of french immersion. At least in my extended immigrant family, everyone puts their kids in French Immersion, seems foolish to pass up another free language. I really wonder why these immersion schools are not more popular in Europe.
In Europe, most political "entities" defend their language, and so do not leave much chance to such ideas.

But I anyway do not believe that too much depends on the system, but that most depends on YOU. I on a family meeting met cousin Peter, who had been in Paris working for a year, and thought that he would be a valuable contributor at the family meeting when the "younger" folks (below 65) spoke French and the "older" ones in a separate room spoke German. An error, his French was unbelievably bad. I after the meeting asked his mother about this and the good aunt fumed like a dragon in the worst moment, and explained that her son in Paris had worked with German speakers from Switzerland and Germany and spent his offtime with them as well. I still remember that I in FEB/MAR/APR and early May 72 was in military service and got completely fed-up with anything "Swiss national", and was happy to get out to London in late September for 3 months. In when in London carefully avoided anything Swiss or German. I had 3 hours per day Mon-Fri of English Language, one hour on 3 days of British Industry & Commerce and two hours each on 2 days of English Correspondence. And spent my offtime in an English environment. Or with Arabs and Iranians and Spaniards who accepted me very well. And with whom I only could speak English. So that the psychological context helped me to learn English. I on holiday-trips to and through France revived my French, not least in restaurants (Arab ones, Indian ones, Vietnamese ones) where I only could get ahead with French.

Back to school. With one class of Secondary School I spent a full week in Vaumarcus on the Neuchâtel/Vaud borderline, with the other one a week in the Ticino where I profited of the point to be the one who knew most of Italian, and then a week with our Protestant reverend in the Ticino again. Sure, whomever was ready to try to speak with the natives, and be it to buy an icecream, or a piece of Panettone, profited and those who did NOT could not profit much.

Alright, I before that, in view of the refusal of my brother to speak "foreignish" always had been Mr BlaBla but liked by the locals, and so got many things for free. Like small boiled fish from a lady near the beach in Western Liguria (they were like crisps, and had no bones of any kind), or pieces of gelato added for free at the gelateria in Marina di Piertrasanta, or lots of free samples in the market of Torre del Lago Puccini .

Immersion is something you CAN and SHOULD do yourself
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