Zurich lies in the German-speaking part of Switzerland but, in everyday life, people in Zurich speak Swiss German, a German dialect. If you can understand and speak even a little of the local language, you will feel integrated much faster. A huge range of German language courses and translations is available to you.
Standard German and Swiss German
The official language of the Canton of Zurich is German. However there is a noticeable difference between standard (or high) German and Swiss German (the local dialect). Standard German is used in written communication throughout the German-speaking part of Switzerland, while in everyday life, people usually speak Swiss German. But don't be afraid to use standard German in conversation and to ask the other person to reply in that language. In the Canton of Zurich, German language skills are not only important to communicate; understanding and speaking the local language is also a requirement if you wish to extend your residence permit or apply for a settlement permit.
German language courses
Depending on your level and your needs, you may choose from a wide range of German language courses – there are even classes offering childcare while you learn. Before you sign up for a German language course, you may want to find out more about the different types of courses and how much they cost. Costs vary and must often be paid by the students themselves. Some institutions offer cheap or even free courses. We also recommend that you contact your local authority to find out about any state-subsidised language courses. With the Caritas Culture Pass - the «KulturLegi» - some German language courses are available at reduced prices. Caritas Zurich offers its Culture Pass to people living on a restricted income.
Besides conventional translation/interpretation services, there are also (intercultural) translators who can help you in person or by telephone to translate from and into various languages. They can assist with conversations regarding health, education, or social matters. Some information centres also offer their services in several languages.
Verwenden Sie die Akkordeon-Bedienelemente, um die Sichtbarkeit der jeweiligen Panels (unterhalb der Bedienelemente) umzuschalten.
- Language and integration courses in the Canton of Zurich (German)
- German language courses in the city of Zurich (German)
- City of Zurich Integration Office: German language courses (German)
- City of Winterthur Integration Office (German)
- AOZ advisory services on German language classes at the Zurich Migration Office (German)
- AOZ Medios – Intercultural translation services (German)