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Swiss high-school to introduce teaching in English

English is set to make further inroads in the Swiss education system this year, when a school in canton Basel Country launches a fully bilingual course for pupils preparing their high school exams.

From August, a school in Liestal will start teaching history, mathematics and physics in English, while the remaining subjects will still be taught in German. The bilingual course will initially only be available to students studying for a high school diploma in Latin and Greek.

The move is expected to fuel a nationwide debate on whether English or a national language should be the first foreign language taught in Swiss schools.

Last month, the German-speaking cantons of Lucerne, Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Obwalden and Nidwalden followed Zurich in declaring their intention to teach English first.

The issue has caused a rift between these cantons, which see English as a crucial tool for children in the modern world, and opponents, mainly in the French-speaking part, who fear it will undermine national unity.

The director of the school in Liestal, Guy Kempfert, said there were no plans to introduce a bilingual German/French course, even though French is spoken by about one fifth of Switzerland’s population.

He added that no entrance examination would be necessary, but that a bilingual course would be extremely demanding on the students.

During the first year of the programme, three subjects will be taught in English. Other subjects, such as sport and geography will be added next year.

Zurich has also recently introduced a bilingual diploma, however, there are fewer subjects available in English.

swissinfo with agencies

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