Immersion and bilingual education programmes in Switzerland

A critical literature review and bibliographic database
03.2021 - 12.2024
Competences, Didactics, Institutions

In Switzerland, language immersion and bilingual education programmes have been both promoted and in demand for quite some time. The topic has also been the focus of numerous scholarly studies that, however, are not always known or accessible. In addition, there is a degree of uncertainty about which findings can be compared or generalised. This project aims to collect existing scholarly literature and documentation and to analyse the information according to theme.

The literature review focuses on research in the area of immersion projects in all language regions and at all school levels in Switzerland (pre-school, compulsory and post-compulsory schooling), especially from primary school onwards. The following four topics are critically evaluated:

Design of bilingual education: How is bilingual education in Switzerland structured, and how do these forms differ in, for instance, their goals, duration and intensity, or requirements for participating?

Language use and language level in bilingual education: What have studies dealing with language use in bilingual education programmes revealed? What language proficiency measurements have been applied in evaluation projects? What is known about how the local language of schooling develops?

Bilingual school subjects: What statements have been made on school subjects taught using immersion methods? What are the educational possibilities and limits? What learning objectives are attained in the school subjects and how do they measure up to results achieved in traditional classroom settings?

Reasons that bilingual education programmes fail and succeed: In the past, numerous bilingual education programmes were discontinued after a period of time. What were the reasons? By contrast, which factors promote success in bilingual education?

Purpose – Expected results

An open-access bibliographic database that can be searched using keywords is planned.

The results and conclusions of the literature review are presented in a multilingual report (critical literature review). Previous findings and empirical knowledge from scholarly literature (for instance, in applied linguistics, pedagogy, education science) is processed and critically evaluated for various interested groups. An additional goal is to lay the groundwork for further developing bilingual education programmes at various school levels. Finally, research gaps and research needs will be identified, and desiderata for future studies formulated.