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Old 06.09.2017, 21:02
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German or Swiss German - A year later

So, its been a while since I struggled with the german vs swiss german learning dilemma and thought it might worth an update, shall it be of any help to new comers.

I came here originally wondering how people managed the conflict of learning high german in a city where you barely hear but swiss german on day to day, especially at "lower level" service industry. I got many great suggestions to overcome the dilemma. A short history: language barrier caused unnecessary confusion, conflict and grief and I wanted to get over that in one night (!) and maybe my ego was not allowing me to accept the fact of taking things easy and push within limits.

Anyway, I went to many schools (crap to overly serious), done tandem, tried to chat with people and I managed to be great at reading, grammar and writing (I got the time to check and correct) but never managed to blast a convo without making tens of grammar mistakes and stopping and repeating and jumping between english and german and confusing/irittating the most patient people. So it was about time to follow the advice of just vomiting the sentence and not to worry about grammar or anything. While that did not stop my coworkers from having a great laugh, it did not hurt me anymore, and I kept trying, and eventually, they became helpful and correcting me, and even giving me the swiss german alternative with a big smile. One co-worker even went all the way to buy me swiss german dictionary!

Now, I understand at least 95% of german, can manage normal day to day in any situation with minimal mistakes, accept to pronounce words wrongly - per high german - (because they use them this way here! ie. gleichfalls -> gleechfalls etc) and also can catch a background convo at ease (I still struggle with sudden/fast swiss german, but I do catch a lot of it now, and speak a bit of it when needed).

What I found most helpful was:

1- always throw one swiss german word in your sentence and its guaranteed no one (even if you are crap in german) would ever answer you in english (if they speak english). Worked like charm for me. This was always a big issue we foreigners encounter, so it makes practising even harder.

2- translating every word in tram, train, station commercials, the courage to try to translate makes it harder to forget.

3- Never take it personal when people laugh or get confused at what you are trying to say, just play it thick and continue (unless its an emergency!)

4- Take the chance to practice it where nobody knows you! (street/shops etc) if they dont like it, you are not meeting them again, if they answer you, then for sure you are getting them into a point.

5- blick and blick am abend - never! they use way to many terms that make you fear the language. they are only helpful once you cross good proficiency in german.

6- Mobile language to be switched to german - I particularly like the idea that news tab gathers news in german so you learn a lot, and also you get to see common terms very frequently.

7- Tandem raises your confidence but can be as daunting as learning for leaving cert times!

8- sprachkurs is also great (Always aim at one level higher unless you are A1), it pushes you further. one level higher means you dont get confused but other confused peers, so you make less mistakes and learn faster.

9- my emails and meetings are all done in high german, and while that freaked me out first month, now I appreciate it to full, it gave me huge language boost.

10- I still speak in English most of the time, but only when stuck I speak nothing but german, so you better be stuck around people who barely (if at all) speak english and you will learn so fast (especially true with swiss german)

11- dont be afraid of was isch/was ist/was bedeutet/ wie heiss ist etc when in convo, or else you wont know what it means especially when swiss german or something connected to a slang/culture etc.

12- alcohol is your friend you always become talkative (mostly non sense) which helps you to release the german you learnt.



As much as I hated some of the original suggestions, I do see them thoroughly now! Thanks for everyone and I really hope they help newbies in german.

I have B2 exam mid November in Berlin.. this would be my first real test in German. fingers crossed.
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Old 06.09.2017, 21:48
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Re: German or Swiss German - A year later

Take your holidays in Germany to experience how one speaks correct Hoch Deutsch. The Swiss Hoch Deutsch is not the same
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So, its been a while since I struggled with the german vs swiss german learning dilemma and thought it might worth an update, shall it be of any help to new comers.

I came here originally wondering how people managed the conflict of learning high german in a city where you barely hear but swiss german on day to day, especially at "lower level" service industry. I got many great suggestions to overcome the dilemma. A short history: language barrier caused unnecessary confusion, conflict and grief and I wanted to get over that in one night (!) and maybe my ego was not allowing me to accept the fact of taking things easy and push within limits.

Anyway, I went to many schools (crap to overly serious), done tandem, tried to chat with people and I managed to be great at reading, grammar and writing (I got the time to check and correct) but never managed to blast a convo without making tens of grammar mistakes and stopping and repeating and jumping between english and german and confusing/irittating the most patient people. So it was about time to follow the advice of just vomiting the sentence and not to worry about grammar or anything. While that did not stop my coworkers from having a great laugh, it did not hurt me anymore, and I kept trying, and eventually, they became helpful and correcting me, and even giving me the swiss german alternative with a big smile. One co-worker even went all the way to buy me swiss german dictionary!

Now, I understand at least 95% of german, can manage normal day to day in any situation with minimal mistakes, accept to pronounce words wrongly - per high german - (because they use them this way here! ie. gleichfalls -> gleechfalls etc) and also can catch a background convo at ease (I still struggle with sudden/fast swiss german, but I do catch a lot of it now, and speak a bit of it when needed).

What I found most helpful was:

1- always throw one swiss german word in your sentence and its guaranteed no one (even if you are crap in german) would ever answer you in english (if they speak english). Worked like charm for me. This was always a big issue we foreigners encounter, so it makes practising even harder.

2- translating every word in tram, train, station commercials, the courage to try to translate makes it harder to forget.

3- Never take it personal when people laugh or get confused at what you are trying to say, just play it thick and continue (unless its an emergency!)

4- Take the chance to practice it where nobody knows you! (street/shops etc) if they dont like it, you are not meeting them again, if they answer you, then for sure you are getting them into a point.

5- blick and blick am abend - never! they use way to many terms that make you fear the language. they are only helpful once you cross good proficiency in german.

6- Mobile language to be switched to german - I particularly like the idea that news tab gathers news in german so you learn a lot, and also you get to see common terms very frequently.

7- Tandem raises your confidence but can be as daunting as learning for leaving cert times!

8- sprachkurs is also great (Always aim at one level higher unless you are A1), it pushes you further. one level higher means you dont get confused but other confused peers, so you make less mistakes and learn faster.

9- my emails and meetings are all done in high german, and while that freaked me out first month, now I appreciate it to full, it gave me huge language boost.

10- I still speak in English most of the time, but only when stuck I speak nothing but german, so you better be stuck around people who barely (if at all) speak english and you will learn so fast (especially true with swiss german)

11- dont be afraid of was isch/was ist/was bedeutet/ wie heiss ist etc when in convo, or else you wont know what it means especially when swiss german or something connected to a slang/culture etc.

12- alcohol is your friend you always become talkative (mostly non sense) which helps you to release the german you learnt.



As much as I hated some of the original suggestions, I do see them thoroughly now! Thanks for everyone and I really hope they help newbies in german.

I have B2 exam mid November in Berlin.. this would be my first real test in German. fingers crossed.
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  #3  
Old 06.09.2017, 23:02
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Re: German or Swiss German - A year later

Helloo trainspotter, a wee question fer ye, am I right to guess that English is yet one more foreign language you are able to speak, but that it is not your mother tongue?
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Old 06.09.2017, 23:30
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Re: German or Swiss German - A year later

Yes Rachel you are right. Im native french and Spanish (both parents) and I learned english (at least practised) when I went to the US to study. Why? My point about english is due to the fact of it being international language and you assume most of people speak it (my gf is swiss and learned french in school but hers is sooo bad that she actually prefers to speak english or spanish for example)
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Old 06.09.2017, 23:49
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Re: German or Swiss German - A year later

Excellent, you are a polyglot. Yes, English is an international language, however not the only one, Spanish and French are also important in the world today for communication as there are more than 1 nation per language that speaks these.
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Old 06.09.2017, 23:52
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Re: German or Swiss German - A year later

Thats true, but I like to keep it neutral and avoid presumptions so i speak english and dont insist on french as a matter of respect to the locals (they would feel more embarrassed about their french than trying english for first time).

I had no intentions whatsoever to come to zurich, I was hired for specific skill for specific period (Coming to an end soon), and I knew I would not in million years use german language anywhere but still wanted to learn it to make my life easier here and also as a matter of saying to family/friends: I came out of CH with something prominent; new language.
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