The Bilingual School of Suisse Romande was founded and is run by Tina Roessler, who manages the school and supervises all academic aspects. The school is part of the Lémania Group and the Bilingual School occupies the ground floor and first floor of the 1906 Art Deco building of Lemania School.
It offers a unique, fully bilingual and bicultural programme (parallel with UK + FR programmes, with Singapore for math). It offer an outstanding level in all subjects which are started early to ensure full mastery. Its classes run from 3 to 15 years old. Students then choose to continue either at the Gymnase Vaudois (bilingual option) or to prepare the Maturité Suisse, the International Baccalaureate or the Bac Français.
The school is located in the very center of Lausanne, within 5 walking minutes from the Metro, the LEB and the Lausanne train station, and yet we are in a quiet setting among trees and flowers, with two splendid playgrounds at our disposal.
The Bilingual School allows children who start early enough (ideally at age 4-5, and age 7-8 at the latest for full bilingualism) to achieve active speaking after two years. Then they go through a transition class to gently join the native language courses. Bilingualism then progresses from a level of about B1 at age 10-11 to an exceptional C1 level at age 15, when they have fully mastered the second language, its literature and culture.
The situation of children arriving at the school from an English speaking background (and who need to learn French) is not the same as the one of the local French speaking children (who need to learn English). Given the general French-speaking environment in which they are constantly immersed, children from English speaking background usually learn French faster than the locals learn English. Further, English speaking children are often reassured to be allowed to continue their familiar English education in Language Arts and Maths, and to have time to master French in a more relaxed way.
Students who are already bilingual simply join the “double native classes” immediately. They will just need to choose whether they want Math in French or in English.
The founder has also set up individualized and advanced teaching programmes in all subjects, in order to promote students’ autonomy: this is especially suitable for children who are bored with regular programmes. Humanities, social and natural sciences, mathematics as well as literature are particularly advanced and start early.
The Bilingual School covers education from early Pre-Kindergarten (3 years old on September 30) until the end of middle school (age 15). In the 8th and 9th grades, students choose a Specific Option (Latin, Italian, or Math / Physics) that allows them to prepare the exam for admission to the Gymnase Vaudois (high school). The other option is to continue their studies in a private school with the preparation of the Swiss Maturité, the International Baccalaureate or the French Baccalauréat, after passing the AVDEP Certificate.
The school is open daily from 8 am to 6.30 pm (6 pm on Fridays) and the full day schedule offers a varied programme.
We are now able to prove that our natural, interactive immersion method allows children who start before the age of 7-8 (ideally however around 4-5) to become truly bilingual: they normally speak fluently and confidently after two years, and are able to follow the programme of their age group in French after that. This goal is achieved as they pursue the teaching of mathematics in English, as well as English Language Arts classes, as if they were in a mother-tongue school. These results are due to our unique method, based on the most recent cognitive research, by which we follow the natural path of language learning. This learning must involve seeing, hearing and speaking, rather than unnatural methods that involve writing, grammar and vocabulary learning – we teach language to the brain, not to the child, and it works effectively.
Freedom and Responsibility for Naturally Curious Children
Our school accepts all children who want to learn, and the programme has been designed to offer the best to children who are not very motivated or bored in the slow, dogmatic and rigid framework of too many traditional schools. At the Bilingual School we believe that all children who have this spark of curiosity in their eyes and all these questions to be asked deserve an education where the content can rapidly reach more depth and complexity. They need a school that gives them the freedom to learn and the responsibility for their work.
Students can move faster when they are able to do so, and it is particularly striking to see the results of this educational programme in mathematics. Although we were following the Singapore curriculum in mathematics, which is particularly demanding, about one third of our students are six months to one year ahead of the programme.
They soon have advanced courses: they begin Latin (which is the best “bridge” between English and French) when they are 8 years old, as well as philosophy. Our programme of geography, history and natural sciences is advanced and allows children to gradually build a deeper understanding of scientific facts.
The programme is conceived as a progressive and continuous path from kindergarten to the entrance programmes for high schools or universities, without surges or interruptions. Students are gradually encouraged to do research independently on the Internet and at the library, and learn how to write their own papers and articles on the computer. Thus, this fundamental ability for the students’ future is carefully built up instead of coming as a sudden surprise later.
No homework at the beginning of primary school
We have an unusual schedule, with 24 hours in Kindergarten (compared to 16-18 hours or less in other schools), 28.5 hours in Primary (compared to 18-21 hours in other primary schools) and 38 periods in Middle School (50 mn., compared to 32 periods in local Middle Schools). This is the secret that allows us to achieve our full bilingual objective, because we have as many hours of instruction for the French language as for the English language. It also allows for bilingual education in sciences, music and art classes, and of course, sports twice a week. But then, we are not going to drown them in homework! We prefer not to “outsource” education to families.
Since students work individually and at their best pace in the fundamental subjects (mathematics and languages), we do not give homework until they are 8 years old (except for reading assignments and memorization), and besides that there is just personal work that can be done anytime during the week (eg reading). From age 8 to Middle School (6th grade) homework assignments are then given in small quantities in order to allow the students to get used to it. On the other hand, the readings assignments (in French and English) are an important part of our programmes and enough time must be devoted to them.
In Middle School, homework is monitored in order to keep it doable, also for students who do sports/music etc. beside school, and it is given sufficiently in advance: every subject teacher is alotted that much time of homework, depending on how much he/she teaches (eg. French is 5 periods, this means 1.5 hours min and max of homework a week, etc.). There are also readings assignments to be done during vacations.
Those who choose to stay for workshops after school can choose from many interesting activities. the activities take place from 16:30 to 17:30 and after that the children can play and are supervised until 18.30. We offer a Chess Club, Swimming for beginners/intermediate/advanced, a German Club with films and singing; most of the other activities are creative, practical or manual activities (art, music, sewing, cooking, modeling, etc.) that balance our rather intellectual programme. We think that becoming proficient in making something useful, or something that tastes good or works well, is an important part of everyday life. When you see these boys and girls eagerly pulling their threads to sew a button on, model a vase or a cat in clay, or cut apples into pieces for a cake, it is very clear that even in our day and age when everything is “ready-made”, the desire to “do it oneself” is fortunately still as alive as it always was.
Gifted children in music and/or sports
Not having homework before the age of 8 is also a unique opportunity for children with gifts in music and/or sports: they have enough time after school to really practice their instrument 30 to 60 minutes every day. We have a lot of students taking private music lessons at school or studying at the Conservatory. Others choose art or chess at school, or classes taken outside of the school. We also encourage students who are talented in music, dance or sports to attend the Gymnase Auguste Piccard in Music Studies if they so desire.
The BSSR in short:
• A bilingual school allowing students to reach the highest possible development of their skills and gifts, with a level rarely seen elsewhere.
• A school whose primary objective is to teach at the highest level and to give the most exciting and comprehensive courses possible.
• A no-fuss school, where the child feels part of a family and where each student is respected and helped.
If this description intests you, why not arrange a visit? An email is all it takes!