For more than three decades, the Canton of Valais “Bureau des Echanges Linguistiques” (office for language exchanges) has been responsible for coordinating language exchange programmes in the canton’s two language regions as well as outside the cantonal borders. In addition, exchange activities in the canton are also organised independently by families, school classes or schools. From the viewpoint of the Canton of Bern, the Valais exchange activities serve as a model for success.
This project documents experiences in organising and implementing various forms of student exchange during compulsory schooling. The overarching objective is to identify the factors that promote or impede success and to establish which of the practices followed in the bilingual Canton of Valais – with its long-established office for language exchange activities – can be adopted to promote and realise linguistic mobility (in the Canton of Bern and elsewhere). In the project, the impact of an exchange activity is to be understood in a broad sense. Indeed, the purpose of an exchange is not solely to promote language skills: general outcomes including self- and social competence as well as socio-cultural skills are also targeted.
The objective is to realise a set of recommendations on the necessary organisational, pedagogical and individual conditions for organising individual student exchanges; the recommendations primarily concern bilingual Swiss cantons but can also be extrapolated for other regions.