Swiss primary school adopts ‘simplified’ German to communicate with parents

Edited by walterp on . Posted in Akademia

A primary school in Basel is to use a simplified version of the German language so it can communicate better with immigrant parents who may not be native German speakers.

According to Blick, many parents of children at the school struggle to understand letters sent to them, for example inviting them to parents’ evenings.

The problem has become so bad that the school had taken to writing letters in the parents’ mother tongue or employing an interpreter – not exactly an incentive for them to learn German.

But now the school has come up with an alternative: writing its letters in an ‘easy’ version of German that could help foreign parents learn the language.

Developed over two years by a working group of ten teachers, this simplified German involves breaking up the language’s notoriously long compound words using a point. For example Lehrperson would become Lehr·person.

What’s more, the school will only communicate essential information, placing each sentence on a new line.

But the move has not pleased everyone.

Speaking to the paper, one father of two children at the school said it was a “distortion” of the language.

In an editorial for Blick, editor-in-chief Andreas Dietrich said the simplified version made a mockery of German.

It’s ridiculous to teach a nonsense version of German to parents who are unable or unwilling to learn the real thing, he said.

However Beat Zemp, the director of a teachers’ association, said schools were increasingly using simple language to communicate with parents.

German should not suffer too much, since the authorities will always communicate in the ‘correct’ language, he said.

 

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