Geneva Study

In 2008, ICVolunteers carried out a thorough survey on community interpreting and linguistic assistance for migrants living in Geneva. Our organization noticed 39.7% of the Genevans were foreigners, representing 184 nationalities. Some of these foreigners are immigrants facing insecurity and difficult situations.

In Geneva, institutions and associations attempt to meet foreigners’ needs. However, do services available meet these expectations? Do migrants benefit from support in all necessary fields? ICVolunteers highlighted questions related to the migrants’ needs in its study.


The study revealed officials in Geneva facilitate the foreigners’ integration, particularly from a linguistic point of view. However, non-French speakers do not feel supported when necessary and are reluctant to play a role in the Genevan daily life.

The survey also highlighted interpreters follow a descriptive method which does not meet the migrants’ needs. The socio-cultural dimension, characteristic of a three-participant communication, is often put aside. Therefore, migrants resort to a member of their family, most likely their children, to culturally link both languages and communities involved. However, their relatives do not perceive cultural differences as a result of misunderstandings or poor knowledge of Genevan structure. 


To carry this study, we used the following methodology:

  1. Questionnaires given to migrants
  2. Interviews of migrants’ associations 
  3. Interviews and questionnaires given to administrative bodies
  4. Meetings and panel discussions

See the library to download the study.

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