After we moved to Zurich, Switzerland, in 2020, I slowly realized that if I wanted to actually communicate with the people I met on the street or grocery store, I needed to be able to understand Swiss German, which is very different from High German.
It is rather challenging to learn the language of Swiss German, because there are only something like 6 million speakers of it in the world (making it about the 150th most common language, my guess).
Very few language learning apps offer support for Swiss German. There are also something like 23 different dialects, so if you live in some obscure or small canton, the dialect you hear there may be very different than the dialect spoken in Zurich.
After a year of living in Switzerland and spending quite a few hours attempting to learn Swiss German (the Zürcher dialect specifically) here are what I believe to be the best five YouTube videos to learn Swiss German.
YouTube videos are a great way to learn Swiss German because you can do so passively, meaning you can listen while you do something else. You can be walking or riding the tram or train to work. Of course you can also sit there and stare at them.
#1: Learn Swiss German While Sleeping | 1000 Words Listening Practice
From Swiss German for Beginners
This video of a Swiss woman, whose name is Andrea (I think), repeating
English and then Swiss German sentences. Why is this my favorite resource? Because you can listen to it passively and it includes English translations. You don’t need to watch this video to learn. You can even be sleeping and still learn Swiss German. And it’s all about listening.
Listening is the most important language skill (because we do it 45 percent of the time we use a language). The sentences are beginner level and are spoken clearly at two speeds. I wish she would make a version without the sleeping music, because I will never listen to that while sleeping. And the fact that English translations are included is awesome. Swiss German to English translations are generally not so easy to find.
#2: 100 phrases for Swiss German beginners
This video “100 phrases for Swiss German beginners” is our second favorite video about learning Swiss German. Again, it’s for beginners (if you’re not a beginner then you don’t need our help, do you?).
Now, this one doesn’t have English audio, but it is beginner enough that you will understand quite a bit, assuming you know High German. If you don’t know any High German, well, I just can’t help you.
#3. How Similar are Swiss German and High German?
Another one of my favorites from one of my favorite language learning YouTube channels Easy German: Swiss German vs. High German. This one earns a spot because it directly compares High and Swiss German. Comparing the two can be very helpful for those of us that know High German. It’s just very interesting to see the differences.
Also this one has subtitles in German, Swiss German AND English which is very hard to come by.
#4. Swiss German vs. High German – Breakfast Edition
Another one of my favorites from one of my favorite language learning YouTube channels Easy German: “Swiss German vs. High German”. This one is interesting because it’s an everyday topic that is probably a good one to know: breakfast.
Again, this one has subtitles in German, Swiss German AND English which is amazingly cool and helpful.
#5. 20 Phrases Every Swiss German Beginner Must-Know
This one from Swiss German for Beginners is great because these are everyday phrases that you hear on the street and in the grocery store, regardless of whether or not you know Swiss German. You will hear many of these phrases so you might as well know what people are saying around you.