11 Swiss German Questions Answered

Swiss German is the German dialect spoken in Switzerland. It’s quite difficult to learn due to the lack of resources, it’s also not taught in Duolingo or any big app. Swiss German is quite different from High German and only worth learning if you are living in Switzerland.

1. What are the Best Apps to Learn Swiss German?

There are not very many apps that offer the Swiss German language. In addition, there are multiple Swiss-German dialects, so you need to know which dialect you need to learn.

But most people learn the Zürcher dialekt, because that is where most foreigners live when they move to Switzerland: Zurich.

The fact that there are relatively no Swiss German apps is one of the biggest reasons we founded LingoSpring.

2. Can you Learn Swiss German with Duolingo?

No. Duolingo does not support Swiss German.

Here is the list of languages Duolingo offers (for learning with English).

You will not find Swiss German in that list.

Swiss German is only spoken by approximately 5-6 million people, so there are relatively few learners of Swiss German when compared to languages like German, Spanish or Italian.

These languages are spoken by tens of millions of people and let’s be honest, more people want to move or study in Italy or Spain than Switzerland.

That’s not to say that Switzerland isn’t nice; it is less popular with tourist and students though.

3. Is it Difficult to Learn Swiss German?

In my opinion, yes it is difficult to learn Swiss German when compared to other European languages like French, German Italian or Spanish.

The biggest difficulty is the lack or resources.

There are basically no great apps. Because there are so few learners of Swiss German, there are few customers of apps. So the big apps like Duolingo just ignore it because they can’t make enough money from “smaller” languages.

There is also another problem: the dialects are quite different. So Basel Swiss German sounds quite different than Zürcher Swiss German. So when you find a good resource, like this woman’s YouTube channel, it’s not exactly like the Swiss German spoken in other cantons.

And finally, there are very few movies and TV shows in Swiss German. So to the extent that you would learn a language by watching TV and films, that is not really possible with Swiss German. Sad face.

4. Can you Learn Swiss German Fast?

I don’t know. Do you already know German well? If so, that is a huge head start. Swiss German is like High German’s estranged cousin (well, it isn’t like this it IS High German’s estranged cousin linguistically speaking [pun not intended]).

Many words in both Swiss and High German are the same or similar.

But then many aren’t! haha.

”Ein bisschen” is ”es bitzeli”.

”Manchmals” is ”mangish”.

”Gewesen” is ”Gsi”.

See? Not so similar.

Swiss German is just a bit funny. But that’s ok. You can learn it fast if you know German already. It will probably help some if you know a different Germanic language.

If you don’t know German and you are not Richard Simcott then no, you probably can’t learn Swiss German quickly.

5. Is it Worth Learning Swiss German?

Hmm. Besides being a subjective question here is my personal opinion on this subject.

If you live in Switzerland and plan to stay there for a long time I would say that yes, it is worth the effort to learn.

If you know the language it will really help you to integrate into society better if you know it.

If you don’t live in a major city where most people speak English you may have a very hard time getting along (again unless you know German, because every one in German speaking Switzerland does know High German) without German or Swiss German.

After living there for a few years I would not want to live in the more rural parts of Switzerland without knowing either German or Swiss German.

If you are staying for a year or two I would not invest lots of time into it unless you love learning languages like I do.

6. Can a German understand Swiss German?

Most of the Germans I have talked to about this said that no, they cannot understand Swiss German.

Some said that after moving to Switzerland it took them a few months to understand it.

They are very different languages in my opinion.

And now that I know some German and have mostly studied German I can say that that only helps you a little bit to understand Swiss German.

7. Are Swiss German and German different languages?

Yes. Yes they are.

If the speakers of the two languages cannot communicate then no, they are not speaking the same language.

Swiss German speakers can understand German.

But that is because they are exposed to German everyday in their newspapers, their TV and movies.

Swiss kids also learn German in school starting from a young age. They do not learn Swiss German in school.

They learn Swiss German at home and German in school.

If Swiss people were not constantly exposed to German it is opinion that they would not understand it.

8. Should you learn Swiss German or German?

If you move to Switzerland I strongly recommend learning German first.

It is so much easier to learn and is sort of a stepping stone to learning Swiss German later, if you choose to do so.

Because the languages are similar, once you know German you will have a head start with Swiss German.

The thing that sucks though is that even if you learn German you will not understand much from people there when they speak. Because the languages are so different, since you have learned German you won’t understand Swiss German still.

But once people realize you are not Swiss, many will switch to English. Or, some will speak German more like Germans do to accomodate you. You Auslander you.

9. Can you Learn Swiss German on Rosetta Stone?

No. Hell no.

10. Do Swiss learn standard German?

Yes! In fact Swiss German is not an official language of Switzerland. But German is!

Pretty weird huh? I think so too.

Swiss kids learn German in school starting in Kindergarten. In many kitas, or daycare centers there are German people. And guess what. They speak German and not Swiss German.

11. How does Swiss German sound?

Funny. It sounds funny.

This is the best single word I can describe it. Italian is not funny. Russian is definitely not funny. Japanese is not funny.

But Swiss German is funny. that’s the best text I can describe it with.

But don’t take it from me. Here’s a video.

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