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Survey of Support Measures for German as a Second Language in Canton Zurich

Background and aims

In 2009 Switzerland took part in the OECD's PISA Study for the fourth time. The additional random surveys carried out in the cantons revealed that in Zurich about one adolescent in five can be classed as a poor achiever in education. The finding was primarily attributed to the relatively high percentage of pupils from migrant families with a different language background.

The canton responded with a "Follow-Up Programme to PISA 2009". The present study forms part of Sub-Project 5, which is devoted to developing and optimizing teaching for German as a second language (DaZ), an additional component in the curriculum to support pupils whose first language is not German.

Local authorities are responsible for implementing the DaZ component, as is customary in the general education sector in Canton Zurich. As the provision is local, the canton has very little data to draw on. In order to develop and optimize DaZ provision, it first needs robust basic information.


The purpose of the present study is to compile insights into how the existing regulations on support for German as a second language are being implemented in local communities, and to derive recommendations for action to be taken by the canton.

The survey was to include three user groups with their own requirements: education authorities, school managements, and teachers of German as a second language.


The survey was conducted online in February 2013. 75 education authorities, 180 school managements and 608 teachers of German as a second language answered the questionnaire. The findings were enriched by education statistics data and by focus groups in two education districts in Zurich. The questions put to the three user groups cast light on three overarching issues:

  • How are the DaZ regulations being implemented in the canton?
  • What information is available about the situation of DaZ teachers in the canton?
  • What effect do DaZ teachers think the DaZ programme is having?

In sum, the findings were evaluated in light of the current DaZ regulations, and recommendations were formulated that reflect the present situation in support for German as a second language in the canton.


The final report is now available.



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