Global and Intercultural Dimension in Curriculum Development
The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) represents the cantons abroad and in international organisations in education and cultural issues: European Union, Council of Europe, OECD, UNESCO/BIE and other organisations. Switzerland participates in works and projects promoting language learning and intercultural understanding. In the sphere of language teaching Switzerland is particularly involved in the work of the Council of Europe.
The EDK has adopted several Empfehlungen [Recommendations] on continuing European education cooperation and promoting international exchange. The increasing numbers of intercantonal, cross-border and European projects and associations has raised the need for improved language skills, which have become a key educational aim. Since multilingualism promotes mobility in training and in professional life, foreign language learning is being continued at all levels of education and stepped up where necessary. Exchange activities in the language regions of Switzerland and with European countries are being supported. Efforts to integrate people of other languages and cultures and the promotion of intercultural understanding are being continued. The European dimension is to be integrated into the curricula at all levels and taken into account in the planning and realisation of teaching resources. In teacher training, too, the European dimension is to be give appropriate consideration.
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) published under the auspices of the Council of Europe in the year 2000 serves as a framework of reference for the development of instruments to promote, plan, implement and ensure the quality of foreign language teaching in Switzerland. Its descriptions of competences facilitate comparable classifications of foreign language skills. These CEFR levels form a framework of reference which enables an international comparability of objectives, curricula, learning programmes, assessment instruments, examinations and diplomas and certificates. The CEFR also forms the basis for the European Language Portfolio which has been developed Europe-wide since 2000.
Europeans Language Portfolio
The European Language Portfolio (ELP) accompanies language learning at school and beyond. With the aid of the ELP language learners can record and present their language skills in detail. Language skills can be compared nationally and internationally, as learners can refer to a common European scale to describe their language skills. The ELP is a self-assessment and documentation instrument; it is not, however, a teaching material or evaluation tool. As a personal document it provides information on language skills, is part of an extended performance appraisal and promotes learner autonomy. Pupils can document their knowledge and skills with the aid of the portfolio.
Swiss versions of the European Language Portfolio
In Switzerland there are four versions of the European Language Portfolio:
- Portfolino: language portfolio for children aged 4 to 7
- ELP I: language portfolio for children aged 7 to 11
- ELP II: language portfolio for young people aged 12 to 15 in the lower secondary level
- ELP III: language portfolio for young people and adults (aged 15 and over)
The Schweizer Version des Europäischen Sprachenportfolios [Swiss Language Portfolio] was launched on 1 March 2001 on the occasion of the European Year of Languages. The EDK is the publisher of the Swiss Language Portfolio. It coordinates the work with the Council of Europe and is the contact for ELP issues at national level. The Interkantonale Vereinbarung über die Harmonisierung der obligatorischen Schule [Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement)] provides that the cantons which have signed the agreement must ensure that pupils can document their knowledge and skills in portfolios.
The EDK and the Schweizerische Berufsbildungsämter-Konferenz [Conference of Swiss VET Offices] have adopted Empfehlungen [Recommendations] on the promotion of bilingual teaching. In bilingual teaching subjects are taught in a foreign language and raise the effectiveness of language learning. Bilingual projects and bilingual lessons exist at all levels of compulsory education. At upper secondary level in particular bilingual programmes are becoming increasingly attractive. At well over half of the recognised baccalaureate schools a bilingual baccalaureate certificate can be obtained. At some upper secondary level state schools an internationally recognised language diploma may also be obtained. Baccalaureate schools can also award an internationally recognised diploma such as the International Baccalaureate for instance. Bilingual subject teaching is increasingly being offered at VET schools and full-time vocational schools (trade or business specialised schools, schools specialising in computer science, and training workshops) too.
European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz
The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in Graz is a Council of Europe institution. Its task is to promote innovation in the field of the learning and teaching of modern languages. The General Secretariat of the EDK represents Switzerland on the ECML Governing Board.
International Task Force
Since December 2004 Switzerland has been a member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF). The member countries undertake to promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research, organise a Day of Remembrance and facilitate access to specific archives on the Holocaust. In Switzerland a “Holocaust Remembrance Day" takes place annually on 27 January in Swiss schools. The cantons are free to decide how they organise this day of remembrance.
Information and communication technologies
Switzerland participates in the European Schoolnet (EUN), an international partnership of 30 ministries of education in the field of ICT in the education sector. The Swiss Centre for Information Technologies in Education (SFIB) seeks to promote the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the education sector. In Switzerland it coordinates the implementation of the European Schoolnet (EUN), which aims to promote teaching and learning methods Europe-wide. In the field of ICT and education it aims to build a bridge between local, cantonal and national activities on the one hand and international EUN projects on the other.
Partnerships and networks
The overall control of work in the field of language teaching, information exchange, coordination of projects and development work in the field of language didactics/language teaching, and improvement of cooperation with the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz are the main tasks of the EDK Koordinationsgruppe Sprachenunterricht [Coordination Group for Language Teaching] (KOGS).
The foreign languages expert group of the Swiss Conference of Rectors of Universities of Teacher Education (COHEP) follows developments within the framework of the further and continuing education of foreign language teachers. It ensures the specialist exchange between the universities of teacher education in the field of foreign language teaching and thereby promotes the continuity, consistency and sustainability of the prior development work in the field of training of foreign language teachers. The expert group works in consultation with the General Secretariat of the EDK in the EDK Coordination Group for Language Teaching (KOGS) and in the EDK Languages Forum.
To support the development of secondary schools the Schweizerisches Zentrum für die Mittelschule [Swiss Office for In-Service Training of Upper Secondary Teachers] maintains contacts with relevant education institutions and networks abroad. It helps teaching staff and school heads find CET courses in European countries. It takes part in subject-related international projects. Together with partner organisations from Germany and Austria the WBZ takes part in education projects in central and eastern Europe and south-eastern Europe.
UNESCO Associated Schools in Switzerland
There are currently 60 UNESCO Associated Schools in Switzerland. These schools strive to achieve the objectives of Unesco – peace, international understanding, respect for human rights, access to knowledge for all, and sustainable development. The UNESCO Associated Schools network was founded in 1953.
Interkantonale Vereinbarung über die Harmonisierung der obligatorischen Schule [Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education]