Integration through education Bilingual teaching at SIS Swiss International Schools

Bilingual education at SIS Swiss International School prepares our students for life in a globalised world while helping them grow fresh roots and make new friends in the local community.

International education – local insight

Education in Switzerland is of a very high standard, and there are a considerable number of independent international schools that cater to the needs of the growing expat community by offering a well-rounded education in English. At SIS Swiss International School, we share the belief that an international education has become an invaluable asset in today's fast-moving and interconnected society; this is why roughly 50 percent of the lessons and daily interactions at our eight SIS schools in Switzerland are conducted in English. However, unlike many other international schools, SIS places equal emphasis on teaching and learning in the local language. By offering consistent bilingual classroom instruction in German and English from kindergarten through to college, we help your children make the most of the unique opportunity that living in a foreign country can afford. This includes learning a new language while immersed in an environment where it is actually spoken, and gaining in-depth knowledge of local customs, events and practices.

At home in two worlds

Relocating to Switzerland is an exciting yet at times challenging adventure for both parents and children. You leave your friends, familiar places and routines behind, and try to find your way in a foreign setting where a lot of things are different and public announcements may be made in four different languages, but unfortunately not in the language you speak at home. The absence of a familiar language in everyday life is one of the greatest challenges expat families face after their move. Many new arrivals to Switzerland try to soften the blow by sending their child to an international school where they meet other people of a similar linguistic or cultural background. While this is understandable, it means missing out on the great opportunity of enabling your child to enjoy an education where German and English play equal roles, both as languages of instruction and in day-to-day school life. This not only gives them the ability to express themselves confidently and naturally in both languages, but it also makes them feel at home in a new world without cutting ties with the old one.

Oh, the places they will go

Languages are often likened to a key to other cultures, opening doors to new concepts and different ways of thinking and living. At SIS, we cherish the diversity of our multinational school community, made up of approximately half local and half international students and staff. Thanks to our day school structure, we not only teach and learn together in class, but the sharing of meals and other activities provide an important platform for the exchange of our views and opinions on all aspects of life. This supports students in developing their critical thinking skills and, ultimately, their own identity, and it teaches us all to encounter other people with openness and respect. Furthermore, our carefully developed bilingual curricula prepare students for both nationally and internationally recognised qualifications such as the bilingual Swiss Matura or the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB). Having received high-quality teaching by native speakers of German and English, SIS students are well prepared to continue their studies in Switzerland or abroad. Upon graduation, they have gained a strong sense of who they are, and they are equipped with a set of values that will guide them through life successfully no matter which corner of the world their journey may take them to.

Author: Andrea Furgler

Andrea Furgler is the CEO of Swiss International Schools Schweiz AG. SIS operates 16 bilingual, private day schools in Switzerland, Germany and Brazil with more than 3,500 students attending classes from kindergarten through to college.

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