Saturday, March 1, 2008

Three year old German Students.

I was going to wax all editorial about my views on forcing three-year-olds to have High German instruction in a Swiss German speaking country, but I think I'll just put the link out there about making these kids learn a language that people don't really speak here.

Is it a good idea? I suppose only time will tell, though I've got just a little bit of doubt on this....


Global Librarian said...

We've been giving this some thought lately in case we decide to live here long term and have children.

We would likely go with a bilingual school where the children are thought by native German speakers AND native English speakers. And we would select a school who teaches in High German. Plus, we would likely begin with a bilingual preschool at 3 years old.

Why? Because our children would learn Swiss German on the playground from the other children. But it is important they be educated in both English and High German so that they can eventually chose a college/university in Europe or in the United States and be prepared for it. Because while Swiss German is spoken here, it is not particularly useful from an educational perspective as it is not, officially, a written language.

Gotta say. I think it makes a lot of sense. Especially for parents who cannot afford one of the private, bilingual schools, but still want to give their children as many educational advantages as they can. Those private preschools cost more per year than my annual university tuition did!

The Big Finn said...

Why can't everybody just speak English?

There...I said it!

I don't agree with a mandatory program, but I think that a voluntary program wouldn't be a bad idea. If three year old kids who are only going to live in CH for a couple of years anyway are forced into the program, then it's going to be a total waste. However, kids are like sponges at that age, and it might not be bad for kids who plan to stay in CH for a long time.

I remember when my family moved from the city of Chicago to the suburbs in 1969. My sister - who was about three at the time - only spoke Finnish. After about three months of playing with other kids in the neighborhood, she was pretty much fluent in English.

Greg said...

GL: I'm not against the idea as much as I'm doubtful it's a realistic thing to try to pull off here in Switzerland. It's going to be hard for the folks that want to do this to find and pay for people that can speak proper High German. Most folks here speak Swiss-German, and while they understand High German, they're not always comfortable with speaking it. Once you start socializing with a few Swiss-Germans you'll find if you get more than about three of them together, they'll switch to Swiss-German without realizing it.

A good American friend of mine has his kids in Swiss public school, and they are thriving there. Another English friend of mine has had his kids go through Swiss public school as well, and said it was quite successful.

TBF: Keep the faith! We'll get the world all speaking English sooner or later! ;) One of the Zurich papers had a cartoon on the front page suggesting that the Basel kids should really be learning the Zurich dialect(!) to get a step ahead.

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