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Tracing the language border on a map

Educators hope to encourage children to lean the skills of map reading


A new multimedia package for Swiss schools allows pupils to learn the secrets of map reading.

Geography lessons in Swiss schools are likely to become more multifaceted with a new set of booklets, maps, games and an interactive computer disc.

The publishers hope school children will learn the way around Switzerland and be able to decipher the various names, scales, lines and symbols on a map.

Part of the multimedia package is the story of Laure and Tom, two teenagers from the French- and German-speaking parts of the country. Together they explore the language border in western Switzerland.

From Biel/Bienne to Zermatt

Their story takes the reader on a journey from the bilingual town of Biel/Bienne to the mountain resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.

During the instructive trip through the Swiss landscape pupils learn the four points of the compass and get a short introduction to the long history of map-making in Switzerland.

Pupils also learn the four points of the compass, use railway timetables or get acquainted with the long history of map-making in Switzerland.

The illustrated booklet introduces the young generation to satellite navigation and modern technology such as the global positioning system.

Among the useful information available is also an interactive atlas of Switzerland of a booklet, entitled Swiss Map Trophy.

The material, which comes in little suitcase, costs SFr390 ($250). But schools can also borrowed it from the Federal Office of Topography, swisstopo.

Getting a taste

Finding new customers who buy maps is one of the aims of the multimedia package, says Hans-Uli Feldmann of swisstopo.

He is concerned that the number of people who know how to read maps properly will drop as the size of the Switzerland's militia army is being cut.

Traditionally, most young Swiss learn to use maps during their training in the army.

By offering the multimedia package for schools swisstopo hopes to give the young generation a taste of the usefulness of maps.

"They might be surprised how much information you get from a map," Feldmann says.

He is convinced that the multimedia package is fascinating for adults, although it is specifically aimed at pupils from the age of 10 to 14.

"It is an interesting way of checking our own knowledge of map reading. I am quite sure that many adults will also buy or borrow the material," he told swissinfo.

The multimedia package is available in German and French, but not in Switzerland's third national language, Italian.


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