You are an international student in Switzerland, eager to embrace the Swiss culture, interact with locals and make the most of your educational experience? One aspect that can greatly enhance your time in Switzerland is to learn the German language. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the benefits of learning German, in Switzerland. We’ll provide you with valuable resources, and share tips to help you outrank other websites and achieve fluency in no time.
Should I learn German to live in Switzerland?
There are 4 national languages in Switzerland. And each language is spoken in a specific region of the country:
- German across the north, the east, and the center of Switzerland;
- French in the Romandie area, in the west
- Italian, mostly in the Ticino canton
- Romansh in the south-east, in the Grisons canton
Of course, you do not need fluency in all the native languages. It’s absolutely possible to communicate entirely in English in the academia. However, if you plan to study in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, it’s best to learn the language. This will not only help you communicate with locals, but if you want to study and work in Switzerland, speaking German will give you an advantage in the job market.
Should I learn German or Swiss German first?
In the German-speaking region of Switzerland, the spoken language is different from the written form. So the answer to this question is that it depends on what your purpose in learning German: interact with locals, pursue university courses in German, for a job where you need to interact with other Swiss German-speakers, or else.
Usually, the standard German is used for written and formal communication. However, in other contexts, people speak mostly Swiss dialects of German. Moreover, the Swiss German can be very different to the point that even Germans and Austrians can’t understand it. So when speaking with foreigners, it’s better to know standard German.
This is especially the case in the university setting. The best move would be to learn standard German first, then ask people to talk to you in High German. You can after learn the Swiss dialects of the language, especially if you plan to land a job in the same area after graduation.
Why learn German in Switzerland?
If you plan to study or are already studying in Switzerland – especially the German part of the country – there’s no need to mention how important it is to learn the language of the place you’re living. And for international students, learning German in Switzerland can open up numerous opportunities. To begin with, 60% of the Swiss speak German.
Moreover, exposing yourself to the Swiss dialect of the German language will broaden your perspective on the culture. Not only that but you’ll also be on the front row to experience the country in brand-new ways as you interact with the locals in their language. As for the academic advantages, you’ll get to access to a wider range of courses and broaden your academic prospects.
And the last reason to study German in Switzerland has to do with professional opportunities. With the country’s strong economy and thriving job market, fluency in German can significantly enhance your career outlook. It’s mostly the case as the language is, along English, widely spoken in various professional fields such as business, engineering, tourism and hospitality, etc.
German language schools in Switzerland
To help you embark on your German language journey, we have compiled a list of valuable resources available in Switzerland. We’ll start with the top language schools to check out.
Language Studies International (LSI) – Learn German in Zurich
Zurich is located at the heart of German-speaking Switzerland. It’s then no surprise that the city hosts one of the best language schools in the country. And LSI is one of the top options for international students when it comes to learning German in Switzerland. And the institution offers many advantages worth mentioning.
Starting with the fact that LSI is an accredited language school with more than 60 years experience. Moreover, there is the flexibility of the course offerings. Also, the broad ranges of programs allow students to choose depending on their needs including:
- Intensive programs
- Complete programs
- Night classes
- Specialized classes for exam preparation purpose
- Premium courses
- Smaller classes
- One-to-one courses
For the price tag, LSI offers courses at a price that is over CHF2,000 for the individual one-to-one program. As for the other options, it will cost you between CHF 150 and CHF 500 per week. Lastly, the staff at the language school are all native speaking, therefore entirely qualified to do their job.
Visit LSI’s website to find out more
ESL Language Studies Abroad
Another language school based in this global center of finance and business that is Zurich, ESL is a global leader in language learning, including German. The institution also has won five times the Star Agency Western Europe Award in 2016. And the same as LSI, ESL offers a broad range of language learning programs including:
- General classes
- Intensive courses
- Specialized programs such as exam preparation courses and Business German courses
- Individual one-to-one courses
Along the benefits of choosing ESL to learn German in Switzerland, there is the various support they offer to their students. This includes free counselling services on the student’s time abroad in Switzerland.
Find out more and check the price by visiting ESL’s website.
International Language School (ILS) – Learn German in Bern, Basel and Solothurn
ILS is a language school which has more than 10 years experience. It’s one of the best places to go if you want to learn German in Bern, as it’s located in the heart of the city. ILS also has 2 more locations: one in Basel and another one in Solothurn.
The institution has course offers not only for the German language but also mostly all European languages. There are various program formats such as:
- Intensive courses
- Semi-intensive courses
- Super intensive programs
- Private German language courses
As for the fees, expect to pay between CHF 60 and CHF 500 fees. Students also are required to pay an additional CHF 50 for study materials. And upon course completion, students receive a certificate, as it is the case at the other language schools we mentioned.
Find out more by visiting ILS’s website.
Apps to learn Swiss German in Switzerland
If you’re too busy at school and don’t have enough time for other in class courses, you can always learn German through online platforms and apps. This is particularly useful if you want to learn the Swiss German dialects. There are numerous options, including:
Swiss German App
An app that specializes in teaching Swiss German, as stated in the name. The app uses live lessons, speaking practices and also flashcards to help you memorize Swiss words. You have the choice between 2 plan options: VIP that costs CHF45 per month and Basic that costs CHF25 per month. The Swiss German app is the best way to fast track your learning process and immersion in the Swiss culture.
There is also Tandem, which is an online platform that connects language learners worldwide. It enables you to find language exchange partners in Switzerland who are native German speakers. Through regular conversations, you can improve your language skills while helping your partner learn your native language. And it’s available on various devices platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, and Web.
This free language app is available only on the IOS platform. And its most interesting feature is that it includes 19 dialects of the Swiss German language. It also features an audio output of the most used phrases in the Swiss-German language. If you’re looking for a language app that also can serve as a travel guide throughout Switzerland, Grüezi Switzerland is one of the best options to check out.
utalk Swiss German
Another language learning app that allows you to learn using practical, real-life situations. utalk Swiss German is a paid app available on iOS as well as Android. It will cost you CHF 8.57 to learn the Bernese dialect which is the most widely understood in the German part of Switzerland. You’ll also get access to other Swiss German dialects as well as the standard German taught to Swiss children at school.
Learning German in Switzerland as an international student can be a rewarding and enriching experience. By acquiring German language skills, you unlock a world of academic, professional, and cultural opportunities. This ultimate guide has provided you with valuable resources, tips, and insights to help you learn and achieve fluency in German in Switzerland. Embrace the challenge, stay persistent, and immerse yourself in the language. Viel Erfolg! (Good luck!)