A bilingual education from the early years comes with various advantages that last a lifetime. Being able to acquire both English and German like a native speaker is clearly the largest advantage. Even if a child transitions to a monolingual education system after Primary School, the acquired language stays with them for the rest of their life. Additionally, research suggests that the brain of a bilingual learner forms differently and fosters skills such as adaptability and cultural competency, allowing one to make conceptual connections more easily.
As a private school that is accredited by the cantonal authorities, we follow Lehrplan 21, the Swiss national curriculum. This makes transitioning to a local Swiss school possible at any time. Additionally, our curriculum is enriched through international curricula. This means that transitioning to international schools or schools that follow an Anglo-Saxon or Germanic education system is seamless.
As a bilingual school, we offer the best of both worlds. During the German weeks, students experience school life as they would in a German-speaking country, while their English week provides them with an experience of a school in an English-speaking country. Unlike international schools, accepting local students (Swiss passport holders) is not subject to a limited duration.
Lakeside School is one of the few bilingual schools in the country that is private and non-profit. While for-profit schools budget for up to 30% of tuition fees to be paid to investors, our school is able to invest every Swiss franc received into the school. This means that our proportional budgets for teaching resources, field trips, and infrastructure are larger than those at for-profit schools.
When joining a bilingual school, it is advantageous to do so from the earliest possible point. Acquiring the additional language is easier at a young age. The older children get, the more it changes from language acquisition to an effort of language learning. However, we do accept monolingual students at primary age. For monolingual students joining us after Grade 3, we carefully assess whether our curriculum and pace of learning is suitable for the individual child.
In both Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, each class has one English and one German-speaking class teacher teaching together. Like in a bilingual family, children are simultaneously exposed to both languages. In Primary School, students are instructed in English and German. One native English-speaking and one native German-speaking class teacher share the responsibility for the class and coordinate their planning closely. The class has an English week where all subjects, including Mathematics and Environmental & Social Studies, are taught in English. The following week the same applies in German. Specialist subjects, such as Music, Sports, etc., are taught in either English or German.
We offer a fully immersive English and German (50:50) programme with equal instruction in both languages. As an academically rigorous school, 60 % of our students transition to a Gymnasium (secondary university prep school) compared to the local school average of 20 %. As a day school, we offer comprehensive care, including Day Care (before and after school care), catered lunches, extra-curricular activities, and a door-to-door school bus service. We celebrate our school community by organising events for our students and parents. Our small class sizes, the small and familiar environment as well as our qualified and experienced educators who view teaching as a vocation are further characteristics that make a difference towards our school. At Lakeside School, parents are viewed as partners in their child’s education.
A German-dominant child reaches at least the same level in German as they would in a monolingual school. For children with other language dominances, German language acquisition is slower than if they were taught in a purely German-monolingual school. In the bilingual setting, however, they benefit from also reaching a native-speaker level in English in the areas of reading and writing.
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