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Old 01.06.2009, 17:56
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Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

Hello,

I am trying to find a Swiss German speaker to help me learn the language, in return for me helping them with English conversation. I think, being sensible, I'd be better learning standard-german than swiss-german (though I don't mind learning standard-german with a bit of a funny swiss accent!).

I have seen, on this forum, some suggestions for where to look (universities, etc), but either I can no longer find the posts any more, or the posts I have found are a bit old.

So, if anyone can point me in the right direction that would be great.

I am moving to Basel, am a 28 year old Australian (with a bit of an English accent) and would like to meet someone once or twice a week during the day.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 01.06.2009, 18:27
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

Hi

I would do the German-English conversation exchange with you if you want.
I'm Swiss, originally from Bern so I speak "Bärndütsch". But I can also teach you High German.

Liebe Grüsse
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Old 10.06.2009, 16:45
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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I think, being sensible, I'd be better learning standard-german than swiss-german (though I don't mind learning standard-german with a bit of a funny swiss accent!).
This seems logical from an outside perspective. However, the experience of many expats is that they invest huge amounts of time to learn German to further their integration only to learn that many Swiss then view them as Germans (e.g. not aiding integration).

If you plan to live in Switzerland for a longer time and a tighter integration is your goal, I would consider learning Swiss-German. At least for the most used phrases, I would work on accent as much as possible.

Concerning accent the offer from lalebe seems compelling, as "Berndütsch" is one of the most liked accents within Switzerland, besides "Bündnerdütsch" and "Baseldütsch", of course
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Old 10.06.2009, 17:15
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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This seems logical from an outside perspective. However, the experience of many expats is that they invest huge amounts of time to learn German to further their integration only to learn that many Swiss then view them as Germans (e.g. not aiding integration).
Is this really the experience of many expats? Your profile states that you're a local.
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Old 10.06.2009, 17:19
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

I personally would agree with the previous poster. I know many people who either learn high German or just don't bother to learn German. I find it much easier to be in local circles at least understanding a little Swiss German. After all it is what's spoken here.

Disclaimer: I never stated my Swiss German or German is good. It's pretty terrible really but I get by!
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Old 10.06.2009, 19:24
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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Is this really the experience of many expats? Your profile states that you're a local.
That's a legitimate question, Nathu. I based my statement on a qualitative market research project I conducted last year with over 20 expats and their families in Basel. While the results may not be representative in a quantitative sense, this exact topic seemed to come up most of the time. I'm also eager to hear more opinions though
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Old 10.06.2009, 21:38
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

I wonder if in this study the part about High German not helping with integration stands on its own, or is that in comparision with expats who learned Swiss German?
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Old 11.06.2009, 11:58
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

Again, excellent question. Kudos for your scientific rigor The study didn't focus on linguistics, the finding was more anecdotal. I may be able to publish results from it, but have to check with the customer first.

What's your opinion on the topic, Nathu? I presume you beg to differ, given your questions. Your profile states that you're a local, too
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Old 11.06.2009, 12:16
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

I've been here 23 years. Came as an English-speaking native.

My take:

- if you are only going to live in Switzerland a few years, learn German. Don't learn Swiss German. You'll need German to read and write, which Swiss German won't provide.

- if you plan to live here longer, learn BOTH. Seriously. My Swiss German is very good now and I only converse in Swiss German with the locals. However, I still can't write a simple birthday or condolence card without minor mistakes. It is very frustrating. Nowadays, more Swiss are writing in Swiss German. I can't seem to manage simple Swiss German messages either because I still don't have a handle on DER, DIE or DAS and EIN, EINER, EINEM, etc. Dead-giveaways.

- These are frustrations I'll have to live with the rest of my life or I'll need to start taking German classes again.
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  #10  
Old 11.06.2009, 14:37
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

attalus, Yes I'm also a local And that might be a reason why I often give other local's postings a critical read...

I think it pays to learn High German. Language is only a part of integration and the vast majority of Swiss in the German area understand High German. I believe and hope that this insisting on dialect, and using communication and integration as synonyms, is a trait that only a minority of the Swiss pick up.

Also not knowing High German is a huge trade-off in written communication. High German should therefor have priority and once it is mastered, understanding the local dialect is the next achievement and not too easy either.

I'm all for long term migrants learning to speak Swiss German as well once they are comfortable with High German. But your suggestion to "work on the accent of the most usual phrases" for even "tighter integration" is an unrealistic expectation originating in what strikes me as village mentality. With the exception of a tiny blessed minority of natural talents people speaking in a non-native language will always be identified as such.

My father grew up in a different part of Switzerland and speaks a dialect mix decades later. He however is "integrated" - as I've said in the first paragraph, language is only a part of integration and this also applies to the dialect vs. standard language aspect...

Now back on topic, I hope Mrs Badger will find a tandem partner, soon!
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Old 11.06.2009, 14:54
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

I see your points both Nathu and Olygirl, but in my experience non Swiss-German speakers are somewhat scared of the language. They insist that they have to learn high German and then have problems when trying to socialise in a Swiss environment. There was a thread about this last year where someone complained that their workmates always spoke Swiss-German at lunch time and they thought it was rude and they should speak English as the poster did not understand Swiss-German. I find this to be all too often the attitude of people who come to Switzerland. If you live here you should make an effort to at least learn the language.

I work in a mixed environment between English and German, when German is spoken though it is Swiss German. The conversation over lunch etc changes instantly between Swiss-German and English and if you don't understand you get lost. Concentrating purely on Swiss German as a non native speaker puts you at a disadvantage here. Yes nearly everyone speaks high german, but they tend to drift back into Swiss-German quite easily, and many people ask should they speak high german and continue to speak Swiss German just a little slower then normal.

In my opinion expats here should be trying to at least understand Swiss German as they learn German. Its what you hear from day to day, and why should we expect the locals to have to speak differently just for us? Its all too easy for English speakers to just assume that every one speaks English rather then make an effort to learn the local lingo.
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Old 11.06.2009, 15:12
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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Hello,

I am trying to find a Swiss German speaker to help me learn the language, in return for me helping them with English conversation. I think, being sensible, I'd be better learning standard-german than swiss-german (though I don't mind learning standard-german with a bit of a funny swiss accent!).

I have seen, on this forum, some suggestions for where to look (universities, etc), but either I can no longer find the posts any more, or the posts I have found are a bit old.

So, if anyone can point me in the right direction that would be great.

I am moving to Basel, am a 28 year old Australian (with a bit of an English accent) and would like to meet someone once or twice a week during the day.

Thanks for any help.
When I first arrived I found myself a converation partner. We'd meet once to twice a week and converse for about an hour. We always alternated languages between these meetings, ie, one in German and the next in English. We both benefitted immensely. I met this guy through a notice that he put on the university notice board. As we were both too poor to actually pay for a teacher I think this was actually a very good deal. We were very good friends for a while but unfortunately later went our own ways. Besides the language, I leart many useful things about surviving in Switzerland such as good places to go that I'd never have found by myself or some useful hints on how to be succesful when applying for an appartment.

Later I did the same thing again and met a girl who later became my GF. So definitely a good idea.
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Old 11.06.2009, 15:27
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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Also not knowing High German is a huge trade-off in written communication. High German should therefor have priority and once it is mastered, understanding the local dialect is the next achievement and not too easy either.
I agree and probably should have been more specific in my post. What I meant was to learn Swiss-German in addition to a solid foundation in German. For daily life, it probably makes more sense to have a solid knowledge of German AND Swiss-German than just perfect German. Hope it's clearer now


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I'm all for long term migrants learning to speak Swiss German as well once they are comfortable with High German. But your suggestion to "work on the accent of the most usual phrases" for even "tighter integration" is an unrealistic expectation originating in what strikes me as village mentality. With the exception of a tiny blessed minority of natural talents people speaking in a non-native language will always be identified as such.
I understand where you're coming from. But village-mentality or not, this is just the way it is and it seems utopian to expect different from the majority of the Swiss population. I often too would wish for a more open and tolerant spirit in Switzerland.

What I do know however is that making an effort to learn Swiss-German will be highly regarded by most Swiss and met with respect even if only partly successful.
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Old 11.06.2009, 16:05
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

If you can speak high German, you'll have an easier time understanding Swiss German.

The Swiss don't mind having conversations with high-German speakers, as long as they know they don't have to speak high German themselves. Quite often, they don't care if the high German understands their Swiss German or not.
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Old 13.06.2009, 09:57
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

Interesting posts. As someone who plans on arriving in Basel next year with the intention of doing an intensive GERMAN course, I'm hoping that will help my presently limited German and be of use in Switzerland for most things. If I end up staying longer than my planned 12 months then I will definitely try learning some Swiss-German (besides that 'kitchen cupboard' which I CAN say, just can't spell!)

I'm immensely grateful that so many Swiss speak English so I know I could almost get by without learning anything else. I wouldn't though, as I think you must speak something of the local language for courtesy's sake and so you have an idea of what is going on around you.

I will entrust my Basel friends with being my conversation partners as long as I don't take the easy option when it gets too hard and revert back to English!

Pam
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Old 13.06.2009, 16:52
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

On a related note, here are some great articles by Tim Ferriss on highly effective language learning.
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Old 17.06.2009, 19:57
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

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Later I did the same thing again and met a girl who later became my GF. So definitely a good idea.
Ohh, a good incentive to study! I won't tell my fiance that story, though . . .
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Old 17.06.2009, 19:59
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

Well, thank you everyone for your thoughts.

I think, since we are not entirely sure how long we'll be here, I'm best to start off with German. But I think it'll be hard not to pick up some swiss german phrases.

My understanding is that you can't do a swiss german course until you have a reasonable level of German, anyway.
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Old 21.06.2009, 18:57
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

i have been told to learn high german first then move on to the dialect of where i live, basel.

question: in getting a conversation partner.....how hard is it when i really truly stink at german? i guess that's the idea though? so i too would like a basel german speaker partner maybe one that plays chess!
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Old 22.06.2009, 13:11
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Re: Where can I find someone to do a German-English conversation swap?

any German speakers interested in ding a German-English conversation swap?
I'm from the US and am at B1 level with high German.
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