As the name suggests, the aim of the SWITCH-competition is to encourage the development of skills in switching between different languages.
The competition on 26 February was organised by the Province of Styria and the local school authorities and hosted at the European Centre for Modern Languages. Nearly 100 students between the ages of 16 and 18 from various Styrian secondary schools took part in this popular annual event in Graz in two categories
- The “language of schooling” category included students who have acquired their knowledge of the competition language in an Austrian school (or in a school in a non-English/French/Italian/Spanish/Russian speaking country); whose competition language was neither their mother tongue nor their cultural language; who have not attended a school in which this language is the main language of instruction, nor a bilingual school with this language as a second language; and who have not spent more than 2 months per school year (including holidays) in an environment in which the competition language is the national language or cultural language since they were 4 years old.
- The “Native Speaker” category encompassed all those persons who do not correspond to the first category and who have English as their language of schooling at their school.
In an interview situation with a panel of native speakers the students switched between English and a second language of their choice (French, Italian, Spanish, Russian). Examiners and the jury members evaluated them according to a series of criteria such as
- language used: scope and appropriateness of structures and vocabulary, flexibility and fluency, pronunciation;
- content: relevance, creativity and independence, coherence of generating ideas;
- social competence: initiative taking, responding to interlocutors, identification with a situation and a role.