More than a thousand immigrants have now taken advantage of free German courses for new arrivals in the city of Basel.
The offer, unique in Switzerland, came about thanks to a popular initiative that was accepted by voters in Basel in November 2014, the aim of which was to improve the integration of foreigners.
New arrivals with B residence permits are entitled to free German lessons at one of 12 language schools around the city. The voucher lasts for one year. For each student who cashes in a token, language schools receive CHF1,200. The courses are adapted to the German level of the student, from beginner to advanced, and teach vocabulary that helps them go about their daily business.
Since the free lessons system was enshrined in the law in December 2014, about 4,500 vouchers have been sent out, with a take-up rate of 23%.
swissinfo.ch visited the city’s Inlingua language school to meet two students who are taking advantage of the offer.