Winterthur aims to tackle German-language illiteracy in schools

Winterthur aims to tackle German-language illiteracy in schools

According to SRF, the government and authorities in Winterthur want to encourage more students at schools in Switzerland to learn German as part of their education. 55 percent of Winterthur's school children don't have German as their mother tongue, and authorities fear that many of these children will begin to fall behind in later life if they do not learn the language quickly and thoroughly.

City wants to hire ten new German language teachers

Speaking to SRF, authorities in Winterthur confirmed that for around 55 percent of students that attend local public schools, German is their second language. Therefore, there are concerns that as the students continue up the grades, some will start to struggle with more advanced subjects as they do not have the adequate language skills to engage properly in the classroom.

To tackle this problem, the city of Winterthur is prepared to invest. The education authorities want to hire 10 additional teachers of “German as a Second Language” (DAZ) to support German learners from the youngest age possible. 

Since younger children can learn languages most efficiently, Winterthur’s schools want to focus on improving the German skills of younger students as a priority, so that they do not need additional lessons during secondary school or higher education.

Swiss broadcaster SRF spoke to school principal Jürg Altwegg, who said: “We want to provide more support, particularly in kindergarten age. There should be specific funding so that we don't have to do this as often later on." 

German-language education in Winterthur costs millions of Swiss francs

However educating more students in the basics of the German language requires a lot of teachers - there are now 68 full-time positions to teach “German as a Second Language” in Winterthur, with costs for the programme totalling 11,6 million Swiss francs a year. 

The region is not the only area struggling to support children with poor German language skills. Zurich has already started trying to tackle the issue by hiring new teachers. Plans to create 200 new German-language teaching positions are already underway in Switzerland's largest city.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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