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Old 17.10.2019, 20:38
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Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Hi everyone.

Myself, my husband and our two kids are moving to Olten next week. They are 2 and 3, I realise they will learn the language best when they go to kindergarten in a year or two but neither of them have been in any kind of childcare before so since this will already be a big adjustment without the language barrier I'd like them to have a little head start if possible. Does anyone know of any classes for their age group in Olten/Zurich or anywhere else I can easily travel to? I'm guessing something play or song based at that age will be best
Also should they be focussing on High German or Swiss German? I understand Kindergarten is in Swiss German so maybe best to go straight in with that?!

For that matter, my husband and I have been trying to learn some German before we came over but now we are wondering if going straight for Swiss German would be better?! To be honest I'm so confused with the whole language situation.
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Old 17.10.2019, 21:05
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Your kids will learn it in no time. Go to the playround, let them play with other kids, no need for anything else. They‘ll pick it up essily.
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Old 18.10.2019, 09:12
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

I'm not familiar with Olten, but here in Zurich a lot of toddlers go to 'Spielgruppe', a drop off playgroup for a couple of hours two or three times a week. There are also 'Waldspielgruppe' in the woods. It's a great way for young children to pick up the language and start to integrate and for you to meet other parents.


Most people learn High German first so you can read/write in German as Swiss German isn't a written language.


Good luck with your move, we also came over from London when my youngest was 2 and we're still here years later!
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Old 18.10.2019, 09:58
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Hi HayleyP
I live in a small village next to Olten. Before our second child was born, we sent our first born to a bilingual daycare in Olten, if you are looking for a daycare, that could be an option. PM me if you like more information about that.

Meanwhile, the older son goes to Spielgruppe (2 hours playtime away from home with other kids and one or two supervisors). That could definitely be an option for your 3 year old kid.
There are no formal lessons for swiss german at that age, your kids will just pick that up.
There are a lot of threads about wether to learn german or swiss german first, personally I would recommend for you and your husband to learn german first.

Ps: I've just registered for an english proficiency course and I'm looking for some speaking practice with a native english speaker in olten. Let me know If you(and/or your husband) want to to a language tandem with a native swiss german speaker.
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Old 18.10.2019, 10:17
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

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For that matter, my husband and I have been trying to learn some German before we came over but now we are wondering if going straight for Swiss German would be better?! To be honest I'm so confused with the whole language situation.
It is confusing. They write German, but all spoken communication is in Swiss German. Kids learn Swiss German at home and speak Swiss German amongst each other and German they learn at school and from reading/telly. As for you I'd say learn German, German is easier since there are books, plenty of courses and all official papers will be in German (and Swiss people in Olten/Zürich have no problem switching to German if needed, Swiss German you'll pick up by social contacts.

Your oldest is 3 so chances are high he'll be rolling into the school system next year (depending on date of birth), if he can't communicate proper enough they might choose to delay this with a year. Daycare is expensive but it will surround him with Swiss German the whole day and unless you're very good at German you should just raise the kid in your own language at home.
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Old 18.10.2019, 18:12
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

There is a little play area round the corner from my flat, one day I saw four little boys playing football there. Each of them was speaking a different language, yet they were all communicating and seemed to know what each other was saying. Kids just absorb languages without thinking about it, they don't have the hangups adults have about not getting things correct etc.
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Old 30.10.2019, 15:24
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Hi all

Sorry for the delayed response. Everything went a big crazy with the move. We are here now

Thank you so much for all your reassuring posts, I think I'll take your advise and let them soak it up naturally. I have already noticed them muddling through a few interactions at the playpark (seems if you don't speak the same language pulling funny faces at each other is universally appreciated)

The playgroups sound amazing. Particularly the forest ones. They attended a forest school back in the UK so I'll definitely check them out.
Thanks for all the advise!
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Old 30.10.2019, 15:52
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Send them to "Spielgruppe". (playgroup). Not only will they learn the language in no time, they won't feel lonely in the new enviroment either.

Spielchischte Olten (they even mention learning German Funny enough in all kinds of languages but English).

Zwärgehüsli Olten.

for more google for "Spielgruppe".

Go visit them, talk to the people who run it. Make a choice.

Last edited by curley; 30.10.2019 at 19:21. Reason: typo which was really counterproductive :-(
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Old 30.10.2019, 19:23
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

Another thing to look out for, with small children, is physical exercise classes designed for parents and children together. These are known, in German, as MuKi (Mutter + Kind), or VaKi (Vater + Kind) or ElKi (Eltern + Kind). They are often run in community centres or at churches (even for those with no church affiliation), for a nominal fee.

That's a good way to meet people, and for both you and your child to learn the local language.
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Old 31.10.2019, 10:07
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Re: Toddler German or Swiss German in Olten, Zurich or somewhere near

The best way for a toddler to learn German is to stick them in a Swiss krippe or spielgruppe consistently and long term. And if the idea is integration, definitely Swiss German is the way to go because local kids don't speak and understand High German until later on in Primary school.
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