And a personal take on the language divide

October 19th, 2010

Robyn asked if I would move to a different language region. Five years ago the answer would have been, “sure.” In fact, five years ago R was looking for a new job and he was considering something in Geneva that wasn’t the greatest move for him professionally (it was a lateral move at best) but he felt that for me, as an English-speaking expat, Geneva would have offered a lot of opportunities, both professional and social. In spite of all the effort I had, at that point, put into learning German I would have made the move. Today the answer would probably be “no.” The difference now, of course, is the Small Boy starts first grade next year: to move now to French-speaking Switzerland would mean to ¬†throw him into first grade in a French-speaking public school having exactly no French. It seems unfair to make him essentially illiterate without even leaving the country. I could understand the unfortunate necessity of setting him back if we were moving to Norway or Spain, but to become a language outsider in his own country, well, it seems a little ridiculous. (R might think differently about that, having studied for a year in French-speaking Switzerland in order to master his school-room French.) So we’re staying put for now.