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Old 29.05.2019, 07:03
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10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone had much experience of how difficult it had been for a 10 year old moving to Zurich and going to the local school with very little german. As at that age they are learning/speaking high german at school it would be very difficult to advance quickly in the local dialect as well. He is introverted as well.. so I am worrying it could mean quite a few lonely years before he could really fit in or feel a sense of connection with his peers. Does anyone have any experience of how long it took and how difficult it was and if they eventually ended up feeling comfortable ? Of course every child and situation is different.. however without knowing anything about how it would be in reality, it would be good to hear any stories.

btw thanks to EF for this fanstastic source of information that you have all worked to build!
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:11
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Hi,

I was wondering if anyone had much experience of how difficult it had been for a 10 year old moving to Zurich and going to the local school with very little german. As at that age they are learning/speaking high german at school it would be very difficult to advance quickly in the local dialect as well. He is introverted as well.. so I am worrying it could mean quite a few lonely years before he could really fit in or feel a sense of connection with his peers. Does anyone have any experience of how long it took and how difficult it was and if they eventually ended up feeling comfortable ? Of course every child and situation is different.. however without knowing anything about how it would be in reality, it would be good to hear any stories.

btw thanks to EF for this fanstastic source of information that you have all worked to build!
Probably best to put him in an International school. But its expensive.
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:26
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

Are you planning to stay here, or is this a shorter term assignment?
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:41
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Are you planning to stay here, or is this a shorter term assignment?
Definately planning for the long term hence we want to first try the local school. We are not complete newbies and have lived in 2 other Swiss cities but with less certainty about the future. He is bilingual already.. so the local school is probably worth a try first.
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:46
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Definately planning for the long term hence we want to first try the local school. We are not complete newbies and have lived in 2 other Swiss cities but with less certainty about the future. He is bilingual already.. so the local school is probably worth a try first.
Bilingual-but you said he speaks very little German?
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:53
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Bilingual-but you said he speaks very little German?
We tried 5 years ago when we last lived in Switzerland to put him into a local kindergarten but the teacher was not friendly (a fact agreed by many others in the neighbourhood) and so we moved him to an English school. So he has about 6 months swiss german and then the minimal german learnt in the english school. This time will be different as he is more interested in school and more socialable. He is bilingual in 2 other non swiss languages.
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:53
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Bilingual-but you said he speaks very little German?
You know there are other languages than German spoken in Switzerland don’t you?
Being bilingual doesn’t mean that one of the languages has to be German.
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Old 29.05.2019, 08:57
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Definately planning for the long term hence we want to first try the local school. We are not complete newbies and have lived in 2 other Swiss cities but with less certainty about the future. He is bilingual already.. so the local school is probably worth a try first.
If you are planning on being here long term then the local school is definitely the way to go initially. He will be given extra German lessons to help bring him up to a decent level more quickly and he will pick up Swiss German from the other kids.

Worst case scenario is it doesn’t work out and you can move him to an international school later.
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Old 29.05.2019, 09:16
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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If you are planning on being here long term then the local school is definitely the way to go initially. He will be given extra German lessons to help bring him up to a decent level more quickly and he will pick up Swiss German from the other kids.

Worst case scenario is it doesn’t work out and you can move him to an international school later.
Thanks.. yes.. that will be our plan. I guess its the "pick up a Swiss German from the other kids" I am unsure how long it could take and if peoples experience is that this usually does end up happening.
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Old 29.05.2019, 09:36
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

Hi OP,

We put our 7-year-old son in a local Dutch school while living in Amsterdam many years ago as there were no spaces for him at the International School. It was not the easiest transition at first as he could not speak the language. I would say at about 6 weeks into the school year, his Dutch really took off and he made friends and felt comfortable. At the end of our two years in Amsterdam, most locals thought he was from Amsterdam - his Dutch was that good/natural given his age.

Watching him struggle the first six weeks wasn't easy but we had no choice. I would recommend the local school here for your son - especially if you see yourself in CH long term.

Good luck!
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Old 29.05.2019, 09:45
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Hi OP,

We put our 7-year-old son in a local Dutch school while living in Amsterdam many years ago as there were no spaces for him at the International School. It was not the easiest transition at first as he could not speak the language. I would say at about 6 weeks into the school year, his Dutch really took off and he made friends and felt comfortable. At the end of our two years in Amsterdam, most locals thought he was from Amsterdam - his Dutch was that good/natural given his age.

Watching him struggle the first six weeks wasn't easy but we had no choice. I would recommend the local school here for your son - especially if you see yourself in CH long term.

Good luck!
wow.. 6 weeks.. very impressive
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Old 29.05.2019, 15:22
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

We put our daughter in a local school at age 10. She was speaking English and French, which helped, as most teachers could communicate with her. The first 6 months were tough though! After that it got easier.
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Old 29.05.2019, 15:52
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

thanks (since I dont have the option the "thank" yet)
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:00
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

Although I don't have any experience with a 10-years-old child, I can write you that last year our 5-years-old started a local kindergarten with little to none knowledge of German and it was tough for her in the beginning and it took her much longer than 6 weeks to "speak out" and start communicating with her peers.
Almost 10 months later she does speak Swiss Deutch, very proudly. With mistakes perhaps (not me to judge) but fluently. Of course with the help of extra lessons provided by kindergarten.

Also here in Zurich there are schools - public ones - for expats/international children who don't speak a local language and who arrive at a different point of their education. They focus a lot on teaching language. My friend stayed in Zurich for 2 years only and her daughter was 9 at the time when they arrived so she started attending this school, not the nearest one to her house. The ratio language vs. other subjects was 50:50 but after one year the girl was ready and capable to attend a local school in the neighbourhood.

Kids adjust, kids are tough, much tougher than we think so I wish your child good luck!
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:03
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

thanks aag681 ... since I dont have the option to "thank" yet .. but will soon reach 10 posts if I keep thanking like this
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:17
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

Personally I would thinking of keeping him on a private English school until the end of primary school (which should be one or two yrs in your situation). And this combined with extra tutoring in German so he can join the Swiss system after primary.

However it now is June, which means you have 1,5 month before school starts and a lot of German can be learned by a kid in 6 weeks.

Without a proper basic understanding of German he would not even be able to understand his teachers during class, and during a period just have no clue what is being learned or how to do his homework/tests.

How does your son feel about this?
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:22
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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You know there are other languages than German spoken in Switzerland don’t you?
Being bilingual doesn’t mean that one of the languages has to be German.

Yes. And of course being bilingual does not help the child much in a German speaking school

And anyhow. Look at these asyl seekers/refugees. They are thrown into a German school and simply have to deal with it. Most get by with a little help.

Private German tuition is also a possibility
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:23
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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Personally I would thinking of keeping him on a private English school until the end of primary school (which should be one or two yrs in your situation). And this combined with extra tutoring in German so he can join the Swiss system after primary.

However it now is June, which means you have 1,5 month before school starts and a lot of German can be learned by a kid in 6 weeks.

Without a proper basic understanding of German he would not even be able to understand his teachers during class, and during a period just have no clue what is being learned or how to do his homework/tests.

How does your son feel about this?
I strongly disagree with this.

He’s not going to be able to learn enough German to get him up to the level required for secondary school if he does all his schooling in English and just has some German tutoring on the side.

With the extra German lessons provided for non German speaking children on top of the regular classes in German he will pick up German much faster.
Most of the teachers in the German speaking part will speak enough English to be able to help him out if he really needs it.
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:36
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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I strongly disagree with this.

He’s not going to be able to learn enough German to get him up to the level required for secondary school if he does all his schooling in English and just has some German tutoring on the side.

With the extra German lessons provided for non German speaking children on top of the regular classes in German he will pick up German much faster.
Most of the teachers in the German speaking part will speak enough English to be able to help him out if he really needs it.
He is an introvert speaking very little German, now I do not know how little that is, but for more extravert children this might all be easier since they more tend to mix in with the others so they pick up the language much better imho, now if his son more is the type who would just stand in a corner of the schoolyard without mixing in, and who would hate the extra attention in class it might be a very unpleasant period. Therefor also "what does the son himself think of this" First another year of international school might be nice and easy for the boy, but he should also realise that such should not be granted without him putting in more work/time to get up to a much better level of the local language, he could join clubs, he would need more German classes and practices. And perhaps the family should switch more to German like with television and such.

I do not know what would be best for his specific situation, nor do I want to pretend such.
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Old 29.05.2019, 16:45
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Re: 10 year old fitting in at school with no Zurideutsch

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He is an introvert speaking very little German, now I do not know how little that is, but for more extravert children this might all be easier since they more tend to mix in with the others so they pick up the language much better imho, now if his son more is the type who would just stand in a corner of the schoolyard without mixing in, and who would hate the extra attention in class it might be a very unpleasant period. Therefor also "what does the son himself think of this" First another year of international school might be nice and easy for the boy, but he should also realise that such should not be granted without him putting in more work/time to get up to a much better level of the local language, he could join clubs, he would need more German classes and practices. And perhaps the family should switch more to German like with television and such.

I do not know what would be best for his specific situation, nor do I want to pretend such.
Yes, this is an important factor, that being introverted he won't learn at the same pace as those more extroverted. True also we really need to ensure he is fully involved in the eventual decision so that he is committed. Clubs are a good idea too.
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