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My question is, how exactly do you learn Swiss German? It seems to me that most classes are in Hochdeutsch and unless you know Swiss people, you just have to deal with not understanding anybody for a few years. Thoughts?
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It's not that bad Understanding
- get a small Schwiizerdüütsch language guide for tourists, esp. for Germans and get familiar withe the alemanic phonetic changes. Coming from Vienna, you are used to the austro-bavarian ones, just learn new ones the same way.
- practice with TV shows like Arena, it's dialect but very close to High German for vocab as they discuss abstract political and social issues.
- get to know your area and notice the small differnces of pronunciation that wil make your life easier because most locals in Basel speak with a local colouring. F.ex, you'll understand right away that long /a:/ becomes long /o:/ in Basel.
- pay attention to vocab you don't recognize from High German in shops, that's your most urgent memory challenge.
- keep track of the very small differences like parkieren for parken if you want Your German to stay German German, embrace them in your High German if you want a local colour to your High German.
- couses are of very limited value if you are fluent in High German but it's a good place to get all your questions answered quickly and accurately by a local. Speaking
- courses are a good place if you don't know locals.
- practice your hobbies among locals to pick up their pronunciation and vocab and integrate it in your own use of dialect.
- talk regularly for real communication and be prepared for a lot of repeating and correcting.
- I find reading dialect literature useless for learning, the spelling is different in every book and it is far from real life daily communication for speaking because you don't find only the one local dialect you need.