The Bilingual School of Suisse Romande was founded and is led by Tina Roessler, who manages it independently; the Lemania Group is the main investor and the Bilingual School occupies the ground floor of the Lemania School.
The Bilingual School enables children to become truly fluent in the second language (eg French) in two years, after which they may join the classes in native language – and this while keeping up their normal Maths in English and English language classes. The school has developed teaching methods which are especially well suited to children who are bored in normal programs; the science and mathematics program is particularly advanced.
The Bilingual School Program goes from Pre-K (Reception) to the Federal Maturité or the International Baccalaureate (in cooperation with Lemania). Currently we have students from Pre-K to to 7th grade and will open the 8th grade in 2014-15.
The school is open daily from 8:00 a. m. to 6:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on Friday) and the after school activities offer a varied program.
We have now proven that our unique method of early natural interactive immersion really allows children starting before puberty to become fully bilingual : they speak fluently and with confidence after two years, and are able to follow the curriculum of their age-group in the second language in their third year. This is reached while fully keeping up the maths and their mother-tongue teaching, as if they were in their mother-tongue school. These striking results are due to our unique method, which firmly grounded in cognitive research, and where we follow the path of natural – aural – language learning, rather than unnatural written grammar/vocabulary learning. We teach the brain, not the child, and it works.
Freedom and responsibility for eager learners
Our school accepts all children eager to learn, and it was designed to take special care of children who are unchallenged or bored with the slow, dogmatic and rigid frame of too many traditional schools. At the Bilingual School we believe that all the children with that sparkle of curiosity in their eyes and with all those questions deserve an education where both the content can become higher and more complex earlier, but also where freedom and responsibility are given and taught from the start.
The students are allowed to move on at a higher speed whenever they can: it is especially striking to see the results in Maths, where about one third of our students are six months to one year ahead the demanding Singapore program which is offered both in French and English.
They are offered advanced courses early: they start Latin – the bridge between English and French – when they are 8, as well as Philosophy; our Geography, History and Natural Sciences program is advanced and progressively allows the children to build a thorough understanding of scientific facts.
The curriculum is designed as one single path from Kindergarden to High School/University, and primary students are taught early how to research autonomously on the Internet and the Library, and to write their own papers on the computer, so that this fundamental ability of future students is carefully and slowly built up and does not come as a surprise later.
No home-work policy in the early Primary School
We have an uncommon timetable, with 27 full hours of teaching a week (compared to the more common 20 hours in primary schools). This allows us to reach our bilingual aim, because we have as much teaching of the French as of the English language, as well as all science teaching in a bilingual setting; music and choir as well as arts, and of course sports twice a week, round off the timetable. Since the children work individually and at their best speed during the fundamental lessons (maths and mother tongue), we give no homework before they are 9/10, and after that it is individual research that can be done any time in the week.
This allows those who choose to stay for the After School Activities to get good at practical activities (woodwork, sewing, cooking, modeling, etc.), which is an excellent balance for our rather intellectual program. We do believe that using one’s hands to become skilled in crafting or making something useful, something that tastes good, or that works well, is really a tribute to our human „homo faber“ nature – and that it is extremely useful in everyday life. When we see them – boys and girls alike – eagerly pulling their thread to sew on a button, sawing away at the piece of wood clamped to the table, getting red hands from the clay they are modeling, cutting apples into pieces for a cake, it is very clear that even in our times of everything ready-made, the thirst for „doing oneself“ is fortunately still as lively as ever.
Musically gifted children
The no homework policy in the early primary school is also a unique opportunity for musically gifted children to get enough time to really practice their instrument during the week – we have many students who get private music lessons either in school or who are studying at the Conservatoire. Others choose sports, chess, advanced arts classes, or theater, and have enough time to practice.