New rule in Aargau school requires non-Swiss students speak German on premises

New rule in Aargau school requires non-Swiss students speak German on premises

A Swiss public school in Canton Aargau has announced that speaking German is now mandatory on the playground and during classes, after some students were found to not understand the language. The school in Reinach-Leimbach argued that the policy encourages non-Swiss students to learn German and better integrate into the community.

Students in Swiss school required to speak German

From now on, students at the Reinach-Leimbach school will have to speak German or Swiss-German in classrooms, corridors and on the playground, according to the Aargauer Zeitung. Authorities said the policy is to make sure children do as well in school as possible, and learn enough German to get a job in Switzerland.

20 minuten noted that the local council (Gemeinde) in Aargau is one of the most diverse in the country, with only 58,2 percent of locals being Swiss citizens - the majority of internationals are Albanian and Italian-speaking. As a result, school authorities noticed that a large number of kids were speaking to their friends in Italian and Albanian, despite lessons being in German.

New rule imposed after local child speaks more Albanian than German

In a statement given to the Aargauer Zeitung, school principal Hanspeter Draeyer said the policy was a result of two incidents. The first was when three young Italian-speaking students formed their own social group around not speaking German, further isolating themselves within the school.

The second was when a child, born in Switzerland to a Swiss family, could not understand instructions from a teacher as he had learnt more Albanian from school than German. "In the first year of kindergarten, the Swiss boy had learned Albanian from his playmates, who were in the majority in his kindergarten class," Draeyer explained.

Supporters say the rule will help non-Swiss families integrate

However, Draeyer was quick to deny that multilingualism was “the problem” that led to the new rule, arguing that both parents and teachers needed to help children learn as much German as possible so that they could better integrate and eventually work in Switzerland. He confirmed that while the teachers will tell the children to speak German, there won't be any specific punishment if a child is caught speaking another language.

“Our school attaches great importance to the fact that German is spoken throughout the school premises. In the future, the teachers will pay particular attention to ensuring that the children comply with this new rule," noted councillor Bruno Rudolf. He said that parents have already been informed of the new policy through the post.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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