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Language Rich Europe: English as a hob-goblin

Mis à jour : 29 Mai 2012

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Following our successful first launch in Bern, Switzerland on 23 May 2012, Caroline Morrissey, Director British Council Switzerland, has written an article discussing both the launch and the Swiss language situation in general. Please read on to find out more.

Anything to do with language policy in Switzerland, a country with four national languages, is always going to be political. So, with the British Council being seen to take the lead, and with the UK’s reputation in this country for not teaching and learning foreign languages well in its schools, we had to tread carefully. At the Language Rich launch in 2010, we spoke not one word of English but ran the event in French and German throughout – and got some great feedback for taking Swiss national languages seriously – as well as managing to avoid criticism about English imperialism. For us in Switzerland, it is important to make a clear distinction between this programme, which is about multilingualism and the work we do in promoting English. English is hugely important in Switzerland, but is also seen as a threat to Swiss cohesion. Read more...