Biel, Bienne, Bienna. Photo/Foto: TES.

The Model of Biel

The city of Biel/Bienne is a bilingual city. French and German have the same status. A study on bilingualism in Biel/Bienne and Freiburg/Fribourg praised the coexistence of the two languages as exemplary.

The report described Biel/Bienne as more than just a “miniature Switzerland”. The city is praised as a role model for the country.

The language is chosen by the person who speaks first. Whether the conversation is in French or German, the counterparty adapts accordingly, even if he or she does not speak the second language well.

This behaviour has been known as the “Model of Biel/Bienne” since the 1980s.

The Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel, in collaboration with Forum Helveticum,  organises an exhibition about this type of bilingualism.