November 14, 2007 / 4:14 PM / 10 years ago

Swiss tell German guy to learn German

ZURICH (Reuters) - A 70-year old German seeking Swiss citizenship was told to go back to school to learn his own native tongue despite being proficient in German, a Swiss newspaper said.

The Swiss town of Dielsdorf ordered Ulrich Kring -- who lived in Switzerland his entire life but is only now applying for citizenship -- to take a German language course to the tune of 250 Swiss francs ($222.6), the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper said.

The class was obligatory for all foreigners seeking a Swiss passport and the town would not make an exception for the German national, the newspaper said.

Kring had lodged an appeal against the decision with a higher local authority, but had not had a reply yet.

Roughly two-thirds of Switzerland’s 7.5 million inhabitants are German speakers. Many German nationals find the Swiss spoken dialect hard to understand, although the official written language taught in schools is the same as in Germany.

There is a hot debate about immigration in Switzerland, where some 20 percent of the population are foreigners, and some newspapers have criticized the big influx of immigrants from neighboring Germany.

Reporting by Douwe Miedema; editing by Sami Aboudi

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