Parliament snubs national language rule

A proposal to ban English as a first foreign language taught in Swiss schools has failed to win a majority in parliament.

This content was published on February 28, 2012 - 16:30

The House of Representatives rejected a call by a French-speaking Green Party representative to draft an amendment to the language law.

He argued that schools in the majority German-speaking part of the country were sending the wrong signal if they preferred English over a national Swiss language.

He said students from the different language regions should be encouraged to talk to each other in a national language – German, French, Italian or Romansh.

However, a majority in the house agreed the time was not right to resume a debate over binding rules for foreign language teaching shortly after a similar proposal was rejected by parliament.

More than half of Swiss cantons, which enjoy wide-ranging autonomy, have agreed to teach pupils two foreign languages, including English, at primary school level, but they stopped short of defining which comes first.

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