More exchanges among the language regions strengthens language skills – and national cohesion.
The Thurgau parliament wants to abolish French in primary schools and move the second national language to lower secondary school. In the canton of Zurich, voters are deciding whether one or two foreign languages will be taught in primary schools in the future. The debate on language learning is, once again, creating quite a stir. When and how are languages taught? What priority is given to the national languages? Which concept achieves the best results?
The discussion of the last few days is dominated by a somewhat forgotten approach to solving the problem: exchanges among the language regions of Switzerland. Instead of French in primary school, Ivo Bischofberger, member of the Upper Chamber from Innerrhoden, would like to promote cohesion and language learning with exchange programmes. The journalist Jean-Martin Büttner is putting a compulsory “Welschlandjahr reloaded” (French Switzerland Year Reloaded) up for discussion. And Stefan Wolter, Director of the Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education, confirms, “Stepping up the exchange programme would be more promising (than condensing the teaching), especially for the national languages.“
Movetia is convinced that exchanges among the language regions are an ideal addition to language lessons. The new national agency was set up to promote exchanges and mobility and, with that, to achieve a clear increase in the number of participants. In contact with others of the same age, school pupils learn through experience that they can already communicate with each other with just a little knowledge and, because of that, find out about other people and cultures. This makes them more motivated to learn languages. But the exchange experience also strengthens pupils’ characters and national cohesion.
Convinced? We look forward to receiving applications, stating the reasons, for the class exchange.