The Language as a “Door-Opener”

Very important for a good integration in Switzerland is the learning of the German language. It is the basis for communication, rapprochement, to socialize, to find a job and to  take one’s life into one’s own hands; in short: to be independent.

According to the Swiss Refugees Aid it is a great advantage for refugees to live together with a German-speaking family. Living together with locals enables them to learn the German language more quickly, to obtain a daily structure so that they do not just “live for the day withour thinking of tomorrow”. In Switzerland the days are strictly scheduled and highly structured which needs to get used to first.
It has taken the refugees longer than expected until they have learnt German, as reported by a family from Siebenthal. A lot of refugees only went to school for a short amount of time or not at all, even. Because of this, they first need to “learn how to learn”. Additionally, they do have a completely different writing system.
To take up a refugee is also exhausting for a foster family to some extent. We communicate with our hands and feet and without a translator it is almost impossible to communicate properly.
Still the family does recommend such an experience, since it was an enriching one.
The request from hostfamilies did decrease during the last time, probably because the issue has not been very present in the media lately.

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Children who have been fleeing half of their lives or have even been born on the run, have mostly never or only been to school for a short amount of time. Therefore they have never learnt the really basic things.

“And I do not mean mental calculations or reading but basics such standing in a line for a paper.”

Translated from: The anchorwoman Gülsha Adilji on the 4th of July in the  AZ (Aargauer Newspaper). 

The children act according to their own rules and impulses and are constantly  looking for attention. It is difficult for them stay focused. We also noticed this during our stay in Athens. The children were constantly jonesing for our undivided attention.

In some refugee camps some aid agencies help to build up schools for the children and give them some amount of prospects. In Switzerland we do have nine years of obligatory schooltime which provides us a basis for life.

And we do need need to keep in mind that for us it is an implicitness but in some other countries it is a luxury.

Much love,


Kolumne von Gülsha Adilji, AZ, 4.Juli 2016,5. Juli 2016


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