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Swiss spend most on English but lag behind

Lyssandra Sears · 22 Feb 2012, 09:38

Published: 22 Feb 2012 10:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Feb 2012 09:38 GMT+01:00

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Despite spending more on teaching the language than the top four countries, Switzerland ranked only eleventh in an international survey comparing English proficiency levels among adults.

A study last year by Education First, a company specialised in teaching English across the world, compared results from 44 countries, with Norway achieving top marks, online news website 20 Minutes reported.

Switzerland was beaten by Poland, Malaysia, Austria and Germany, as well as by more obvious contenders such as the Netherlands and Sweden.

But a study by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey also shows that Switzerland’s grades are not down to a lack of funding.

Between the ages of six and fifteen years, Switzerland invests an average of 95,132 francs ($104,403) per student. This figure is more than 18,000 francs ($19,757) per student higher than the top four ranked countries and 55,000 francs ($60,384) more than Poland.

Inadequate training and excessive demands prove too much of a challenge for Swiss primary school teachers, according to Werner Wunderli of the organisation Schools with Futures.

“Teachers who are studying a three-week crash course in an English speaking country not only have an accent, but are also at their limit in the classroom,” he said.

Story continues below…

Lilo Lätzsch, president of the Zurich Teachers’ Association, believes the problem is exacerbated by the fact that children in the German-speaking part of Switzerland must also learn French as a second language.

“Our children achieve a great deal,” she told 20 Minutes.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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