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These are the languages spoken in Switzerland

Switzerland is home to a multitude of languages that reflect the country's rich cultural diversity. With four official national languages and an impressive number of non-national languages, Switzerland is a true melting pot of languages. In fact, more than two thirds of the Swiss population over the age of 15 regularly speak more than one language.

German/Swiss German

Swiss German is not a uniform language, but rather a group of dialects that can vary depending on the region. From Zurich to Bern, from Basel to Valais - each region has its own nuances and peculiarities in Swiss German. This leads to a fascinating diversity within the language, which underlines its richness and liveliness.

One of the most striking characteristics of Swiss German is its sound. With its soft consonants and singing tone, it is very different from High German or other German dialects. This melodic quality gives Swiss German a special charm and makes it a joy to listen to.

The Swiss learn "Standard German" (High German) at school from an early age, which enables them to communicate with Germans, Austrians and other German speakers without any problems. They switch effortlessly to Standard German when speaking to a non-Swiss German speaker. Most written forms of communication in Switzerland are also in Standard German, as there is no universal written form of the various Swiss German dialects. This explains why most Swiss also refer to Standard German as "written German", which they have to learn at school. In formal situations, they also prefer Standard German as a spoken form of communication, such as in parliamentary discussions, news broadcasts, public transportation announcements and in educational institutions.

For non-Swiss speakers, learning Swiss German can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Not only does it offer the opportunity to immerse yourself deeper into Swiss culture, but also to gain a new perspective on the German language. Although High German is widely spoken and used as the official written language in Switzerland, understanding Swiss German can make it easier to immerse yourself in the daily lives and conversations of the Swiss. The dialects grouped under the term "Swiss German" are the main language for over 60% of the population.

French

French is one of the four official languages of Switzerland. It is mainly spoken in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, known as French-speaking Switzerland, and is the main language for more than 22% of the Swiss population. French is already taught as a compulsory subject in elementary school. Many schools also offer bilingual lessons, which enable pupils to further improve their knowledge of French.

Speaking French also gives you access to the cultural treasures of French-speaking Switzerland. From the romantic old town of Geneva to the picturesque vineyards of the Lavaux region, French-speaking Switzerland offers a wealth of cultural experiences. Whether enjoying the region's culinary delights or exploring its rich history, speaking French allows you to immerse yourself more deeply in the local culture.

Italian

Italian is one of the official languages of Switzerland and is mainly spoken in the southern part of the country. This region, known as Italian-speaking Switzerland, includes the cantons of Ticino and Graubünden. The presence of the Italian language in Switzerland can be traced back to the Middle Ages. During the Roman Empire, what is now Italian-speaking Switzerland was part of the Roman province of Raetia. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Italian retained its importance in the region, particularly in cities such as Lugano and Bellinzona. Over the centuries, the Italian language has held its own in Switzerland despite various political and cultural changes.

Italian is the main language for 8% of the Swiss population. Although there are also various local dialects, the Italian spoken in Switzerland is very similar to standard Italian.

Romansh

Romansh is a Romansh language that developed from Latin, which was brought to Switzerland by the Romans. Over time, however, it has developed independently and is now a language in its own right with five different idioms: Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader. Most Romansh speakers live in the canton of Graubünden, which lies in the south-east of Switzerland. There are even some municipalities here where Romansh is the majority language.

Although Romansh is a national language of Switzerland, it is a small language with few speakers. In recent years, the number of Romansh speakers has even decreased slightly. Only 0.5% of the Swiss population speak Romansh as their main language. There are various initiatives to promote and protect Romansh. For example, the language is taught in schools in Graubünden and there are also a number of media that publish in Romansh.

English, Portuguese, Spanish and more

In addition to the four national languages, there are countless other languages spoken in Switzerland. The two most commonly spoken non-national languages are English and Portuguese, but Spanish, Serbian, Croatian and Albanian are also often heard in everyday life. Almost 80 languages are now being learned and spoken on Sprachtandem.ch alone.

Linguistic diversity - enrichment or challenge?

Switzerland's multilingualism is both an enrichment and a challenge. On the one hand, it facilitates exchange between different cultures and promotes tolerance. On the other hand, it can also lead to language barriers and integration problems. Multilingualism can open many doors in Switzerland, be it in tourism, business or international relations.

By the way: If you would like to learn a language that is not listed here, please send us an e-mail to [email protected].

Find tandem partners in over 70 languages ✌️

Last active 13.7.2024

Speaks

  • Italian

Learns

  • German

Elisa

  • CH-3014
  • Female
  • 31
  • 💻 Online
  • ☕️ In-Person

Ciao a tutti! Ich möchte meine Konversation auf Deutsch verbessern. Ich suche jemanden in Bern, der/die bereit ist, mich persönlich zu treffen, aber auch online, wenn ich unterwegs bin. Ich biete Italienisch an.

Hobbies and interests

Reisen, Backen, Romane

Last active 13.7.2024

Speaks

  • Russian
  • English

Learns

  • German

Anna

  • CH-8004
  • Female
  • 33
  • 💻 Online
  • ☕️ In-Person

I am Russian living in Zurich since 2018. Would like to improve my German (currently B1 level), can help with Russian :) Also, speak English fluently.

Hobbies and interests

Coffee, walks, city hopping, nature, music, art

Last active 13.7.2024

Learns

  • German
  • Swiss German

Rokhan Ayaz

  • ☕️ In-Person

Hallo euch ich möchte deutsch lernen und wenn jemand von mir Paschtu sprache Lernen. Ich kann Ihnen helfen.

Hobbies and interests

Fitness und Cricket

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