Many nations have a single, individual language, predominately used within the country for communication. In some circumstances, a nation might have two national languages, although one is used sparingly or by a small group of citizens. Switzerland is different from all of these other countries. It has, in fact, four national languages. This makes it interesting for anyone who is interested in traveling to the country. Some languages are more predominately used, which means an individual is better off learning that Switzerland language above the others.
However, for those who are planning on extended visits (or even moving to the country), it is a good idea to have general knowledge on each of the four and have a basic understanding on how to use these different languages. One of the best ways to learn a Switzerland language is to do so online. There are several viable options when it comes to learning online, which helps make learning the language that much easier.
What Is the Switzerland Language?
The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. However, these different languages are used in varying ways, in different locations within the country and, in certain ways. For anyone who is considering a trip to the country, it is best to look at a map of the country and where they plan on visiting within the nation to learn which Switzerland language will be most useful to learn.
This is the most widely spoken of the four major languages. In fact, 63 percent of the country speaks this language as the predominant language (and a large percentage of those who do not use it as their predominant language will understand it). For anyone who wants to travel throughout the nation, German is by far the most beneficial to learn. Now, it is important to understand there are dialect variations with the German spoken in Switzerland that cause it to differ the German spoken in Germany.
In the same way that English has variants between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, Swiss German has variances; although learning standard German should be enough for general communication. The German portion of the country makes up nearly the entire central portion of the country, pushing east. Beyond the central portion, only the southern landlocked peninsula is not a German-centric area, though there are some sprinkled areas of other languages on the eastern side of the country.
French is the second most widely spoken languages in Switzerland. 22.7 percent of the population speaks French. It is easier to locate this area of the country as French is spoken along the Western border. Similar to German, there is a special type of "Swiss-French" spoken here, which has German crossover into it; but if you already speak French, you should get by just fine.
The third of the four official Switzerland languages is Italian, with 8.4 percent of the population speaking the country. The vast majority of the region that speaks Italian (which is the southeastern landlocked peninsula and small portions along the eastern border) speak Swiss Italian, which again has some German sprinkled in. A few regions also have a Lombard dialect, but you shouldn't have a problem communicating in this region if you already speak Italian.
Romansh is a national language more in name than in reality. It is an official language as deemed by the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation, although just 0.6 percent of the population speaks it. These portions are in small pockets around the country. One is a small pocket about the Italian speaking region, and another is a small pocket along the very eastern edge of the country.
While it might prove the most interesting of all the Switzerland language options to learn, it likely won't do you much good (unless you're staying in a village within these pockets). A larger portion of the population speaks English (4.7 percent), Portuguese (3.7 percent), Albanian (3 percent), Serbo-Croatian (2.4 percent) and Spanish (2.2 percent).
The Benefits of Speaking the Native Tongue
There are several benefits to learning how to speak a Switzerland language. It depends where you'll be in the country, but knowing the language(s) will help. Here are some major benefits to speaking in the native tongue.
Moving to Switzerland
If you're planning a move to Switzerland, then you should know at least one of the native languages. Learning German will prove beneficial as it is the most spoken language within the country. You'll be able to pick up dialect differences the longer you live, which will help, but to start out, learning one of the major languages will prove helpful as you become accustomed to the region.
Meeting People from Switzerland
Whether you're planning to move to Switzerland or you want to meet people, the best way to do so is to speak the same language. Yes, you will find a large portion of people who speak at least some English, but you are in their country, it's easier for you to learn a Switzerland language and try to adapt to how they speak. This makes it far easier and will allow you to interact with people of all demographics while there.
To Communicate with Swiss Friends and Family
If you're not planning on moving or visiting Switzerland any time soon, you will want to communicate with friends and family members if you have any. Perhaps you want to improve your ability to communicate, or you want to talk with older family members who have moved over and don't speak English. One of the best ways to do this is to learn the Swiss language they do speak.
Where to Learn Swiss Online
There are a number of ways to lean a Switzerland language online. These methods make it possible to learn both on your mobile device and on a connected computer. You may want to test out the different methods to see what works and what doesn't. From there, you'll be able to improve your level of understanding.
This is a fantastic option when you want a free learning experience you can use on the go. Duolingo is a mobile application that is in-depth and fun to use. If you are a visual learner, this is one of the very best ways to learn Swiss online.
Formerly known as Livemocha, Hellolingo has been going strong since 2016. It works off of a strong online community that allows you to openly communicate with others who are working at learning the language.
Busuu provides you with several language options. There are small sources, and then there are more comprehensive courses available through the application. While the program recommends learning at least 10 minutes a day, it states that using the paid Premium service for 22 hours is the equivalent of a full college semester of a language course.
Living Language provides in-depth language help and tutoring. This is a pay service so make sure the is the program for you before opting in to pay for the service. Living Language provides a free lesson so you can experiment with it to see if it works for you.
Foreign Services Institute
This service is offered directly through the United States Department of State. If you're interested in more than just learning a new language but to work with the new language, this is as comprehensive as it comes (it also will cost you more than all the other options). But if you're serious, this is the way to go.
Memrise focuses on making learning a new language fun. It is packed with games and other tools designed to make it feel like you're playing instead of learning. It also has a mobile app so you can learn on the go. With free service options, it's a great tool to check out.
If you're more of a book learner and are better at picking up a new language as you might have back in high school, with a textbook and instructor, this is the way to go. BBC Languages offers comprehensive education courses while taking advantage of video, audio and course phrases to help you learn the Swiss language of choice.
There is no limit to the ways you can learn a new language. If you're interested in learning a Switzerland language, you have four options. While you should choose the language based on where you'll be visiting or the language of your friends and family members who are Swiss, there are plenty of online options you can choose from, each of which provides several benefits. You're just a single Internet connection away from learning a brand new language that will help with your communication.