There are four national languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. The language to be used in schools, which is selected from the four national languages, is determined by the state, called“ a canton" in Switzerland, and the children learn the language as their first language. In compulsory education, they further learn two of the other official languages and a foreign language. In other words, in Switzerland the children learn four languages by the end of compulsory education.
For residents of Japan, it seems difficult to learn and also to teach four languages within the compulsory education system. What are the goals of language education in Switzerland? How do they manage to learn multiple languages? And how well can the students actually master the languages?
To answer these questions, I visited a high school in Canton Titino, where Italian is spoken as the first language. In this paper I try give an overview of the education system and the language education policy in Switzerland, and report on the German classes in the high school of the Italian-speaking province.