Zurich belongs to the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In everyday life, people in Zurich speak Swiss German, a German dialect. If you understand and speak the local language, you will feel integrated much faster. A huge range of German language courses and translations is available to you.

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Standard German and Swiss German

The official language of the Canton of Zurich is German. There is a difference between standard (or high) German and Swiss German (Swiss dialect). Standard German is used in written communication throughout the German-speaking part of Switzerland, whereas in everyday life, people usually speak Swiss German. However, you may easily use standard German in a conversation and kindly ask your counterpart to do so as well. In the Canton of Zurich, German language skills are not only important when it comes to communication. Understanding and speaking the local language is also a prerequisite if you wish to extend your residence permit or apply for a settlement permit.

German language courses

Depending on your level of language and your needs, you may choose from a vast range of German language courses available – there are even classes offering childcare. Before you enrol in a German language course, you may want to find out more about the different types of courses and their fees. The costs do vary and often have to be paid by the students themselves. Some institutions offer inexpensive or even free courses. We also recommend that you contact and ask your local authorities about possible state-subsidized courses. With the Caritas Culture Pass, the so-called KulturLegi, some German language courses are available at reduced prices. Caritas Zurich offers its Culture Pass to people who have to live on little money.

Translation services

Besides conventional translation services, there are also (intercultural) translators who can assist you on site or via telephone to translate from and into various languages. They may help you deal with topics such as health, education, or social matters. Moreover, many information centres offer their services in various languages.


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