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Standard German banned from Zurich preschools

17 May 2011, 10:57

Published: 17 May 2011 16:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 May 2011 10:57 GMT+02:00

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Voters have decided that toddlers at Zürich kindergartens will only learn Swiss German in future, instead of the standard language spoken in Germany.


The outcome of the Sunday referendum was welcomed by the “Yes to dialect in the kindergarten” group that argued for the change.

Currently, one third of the teaching in kindergartens is carried out in the dialect, while one third is in the so-called “High German” and one third is decided by the teachers.

Promoters of the initiative argue that learning standard German as toddlers did not prove to pave the way for better grades at school. They also say it is beneficial for foreign kids growing up in Switzerland, who can then integrate better into Swiss society. 

The issue of using Swiss German instead of High German is a sensitive one in a country where over 60 percent of the population speaks it.

Swiss German, a mainly spoken dialect, is almost unintelligible in most of Germany and remains a strong element of the Swiss identity. High German, which remains the language of official communications, is used in writing and on television. Switzerland has three other national languages, French, Italian and Rumantsch.

Reports said a similar proposal was rejected by Basel voters over the weekend.


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