Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bilingual or Bust

The following is from the current issue of SwissNews. It is a good thing I won't be here much longer.

Thinking of applying for a Swiss passport? Better brush up on your German, French, Italian or Romansh first.

The Swiss Senate recently backed the House of Representatives by voting not to grant citizenship to anyone unable to communicate proficiently in one of the four nationally recognized languages, according to the Zurich daily newspaper, the TagesAnzeiger.

Good language skills are important for integration, said Roberto Schmidt, member of the Christian Democratic Party (CVP) from Valais. Therefore, he added, it is right to strengthen the citizenship law.

Not only will applicants need to demonstrate their lannguage skills by passing a verrbal language test, but also their "integration success". And according to a report on World Radio Switzerland (WRS), foreign nationals who don't integrate could even lose their residency permits.

WRS said the Senate backed a motion suggesting foreigners who "are clearly not going to meet those conditions" of integration and language proficiency could have their residency permits revoked, and be forced to leave Switzerland.

The Federal Cabinet is in the process of defining what exactly "integration" means.

I am about as integrated in Switzerland as an ice cube is in the oven.

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