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Old 12.03.2011, 21:29
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Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

So, there was this university fair at my school, and one of the Swiss representatives told me about ESL (http://www.esl-languages.com/en/home.htm) and after checking it out, I'm on the opinion that it is a very comfortable way of let's say, visiting Zurich and studying German, while not having to worry about food, renting and what not. These are the offered things for German in Zurich: http://www.esl-languages.com/en/adul...-lsi/index.htm and I have contacted representatives for more details. Prices are meh.
Can anyone offer any kind of experience with them or a similar agency? Would you think it's a good way of spending a summer?

fixed 1st link

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Old 12.03.2011, 21:35
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL?

First link does not work for me, try Language studies abroad.
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Old 14.03.2011, 02:10
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL?

RetiredInHS, I see you have experience in staying with a Swiss family. I assume you have enjoyed it?
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Old 14.03.2011, 02:29
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL?

ESL is a language agency. The abbreviation of ESL usually refers to English as a Second Language, though.

I am going to edit the title so it is more obvious you are talking about the agency, not the usual ESL reference.
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Old 14.03.2011, 02:43
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL?

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RetiredInHS, I see you have experience in staying with a Swiss family. I assume you have enjoyed it?
That was well over half a century ago (1947, 1948 and 1950) and the circumstances were rather special, but yes, I enjoyed it immensely. That is when I first started my love affair with this country.

For what it's worth I was ten years old in 1947.
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Old 14.03.2011, 08:20
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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So, there was this university fair at my school, and one of the Swiss representatives told me about ESL (http://www.esl-languages.com/en/home.htm) and after checking it out, I'm on the opinion that it is a very comfortable way of let's say, visiting Zurich and studying German, while not having to worry about food, renting and what not. These are the offered things for German in Zurich: http://www.esl-languages.com/en/adul...-lsi/index.htm and I have contacted representatives for more details. Prices are meh.
Can anyone offer any kind of experience with them or a similar agency? Would you think it's a good way of spending a summer?

fixed 1st link
I wouldn't consider Switzerland to learn German. High German is a foreign language here...
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Old 14.03.2011, 11:18
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

I would recommend that you go to Germany to learn German. Learning high German in Zurich is not great because as soon as you leave the classroom you don't hear people speaking it.

In Germany as soon as you are on the street, in the cafe/shops etc you will hear the same language as you just learnt in the lesson. I have been in Zurich 5 years, but if I wanted to seriously improve my German I would take a trip across the border.
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Old 14.03.2011, 21:46
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

Uhm, really? I thought that it's more or less like British English and American English - you learn British, but can go to the States and Canada and not have a problem with the way the language is spoken there. Sure, many of the words are different; some of them I have never ever heard where I live, but then it's only words - sentence structure, tenses, stuff like that is still very much the same.
Can I refer to the above analogy or not really?
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Old 14.03.2011, 22:04
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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Uhm, really? I thought that it's more or less like British English and American English - you learn British, but can go to the States and Canada and not have a problem with the way the language is spoken there. Sure, many of the words are different; some of them I have never ever heard where I live, but then it's only words - sentence structure, tenses, stuff like that is still very much the same.
Can I refer to the above analogy or not really?

Swiss German is much more different from High German than US English is from British English. I've often seen a Swiss person speaking on German TV and having subtitles underneath them. By contrast Preise Morgan or Richard Quest don't need subtitles when speaking on CNN. It's not just that Swiss German has a couple of quirky words like Velo or Billet - the pronunciation and grammar are vastly different.

Having said that, I am sure that a language school would be teaching you Swiss High German and not the Swiss dialect and when when written there is no difference whatsoever. I speak good German but learned it in Germany. I've been living in Zurich for almost 6 months and still have a big problem understanding the locals. Its getting better but it takes a while. I guess people who learned there German here first probably don't have that problem. Maybe those who have could comment?

Another issue you might want to consider is price. The cost of living in Zurich is much higher than, say, Berlin. That said - Switzerland is a very beautiful county.
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Old 14.03.2011, 22:51
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

If I was young Berlin would defo be my choice. In Zurich you'll learn German at school, but could not practice outside, as Zurchertutsch is a totally different language.
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Old 16.03.2011, 04:02
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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If I was young Berlin would defo be my choice. In Zurich you'll learn German at school, but could not practice outside, as Zurchertutsch is a totally different language.
Berlin? Really? Isn't it just another big city with no mountains, no summer snowboarding and most importantly, no cows?
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Old 16.03.2011, 08:22
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

Your priorities seem to be: 1) cows, 2) summer snowboarding, 3) mountains and you don't seem to care about what kind of German you would learn... Swiss German is at times very cryptic!!!
And Berlin is a nice modern city, good cultural program, in German...
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Old 16.03.2011, 09:59
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

Berlin is a great place in summer, there is just so much to do. If you are not interested in the incredible breadth of cultural activities, nightlife etc, you might enjoy the whole street life, sitting outside in the cafes and eating great food at half the price of Zürich. Also the countryside with all the lakes is really worth a visit or two. Loads of Swiss people love visiting Berlin and I asked a couple of Swiss friends who also thought it would be a good place to learn German properly. But it is a big city and if you want something smaller there are loads of other German towns that are comparable to Zürich in size and which have as much to offer.
If you are really determined on having the whole cows, mountains experience south Germany would be worth considering. As for Summer snowboarding I think the western part of Austria would would be a better choice. The accent is a bit different but at least it would be more like High German. Incidently I think summer skiing and boarding is overrated since you are limited to fairly short runs on glaciers and the pistes are icy in the mornings and slushy by lunchtime.
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Old 18.03.2011, 03:45
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

Haha... yes, cows are awesome. Something tells me you don't like them.

On the serious side, yes, where else to learn German best but in Germany - ingenious. But, yeah, I didn't actually know that the different "accents" are so different. Thanks guys and girls.

Berlin might be a little too big, and I'm ready to assume you need public transport to get around, which is not preferable. But there are plenty more cities that look awesome - Munich and Freiburg, and Lindau, which looks awesome from Google maps and pictures from friends.

Once again, thank you for the information.
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Old 18.03.2011, 05:32
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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Berlin might be a little too big, and I'm ready to assume you need public transport to get around, which is not preferable.
Yes ...People bike a lot, too.
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Old 18.03.2011, 12:16
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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Haha... yes, cows are awesome. Something tells me you don't like them.

On the serious side, yes, where else to learn German best but in Germany - ingenious. But, yeah, I didn't actually know that the different "accents" are so different. Thanks guys and girls.

Berlin might be a little too big, and I'm ready to assume you need public transport to get around, which is not preferable. But there are plenty more cities that look awesome - Munich and Freiburg, and Lindau, which looks awesome from Google maps and pictures from friends.

Once again, thank you for the information.
Please look up some basic, basic information! And no, google maps and street view don't count.

The most comprehensible form of Swiss-German is still about as far from High German as Dutch is. The only reasons that it isn't officially another language is due to the huge variety of local "flavours" of Swiss German and the fact that it's not (officially) written. I assume that your only language is English (with maybe the sad excuse that the Canadian schools pass for French). German is a very different beast - In English, it's all pretty much the same the world over with only a few differences in pronunciation and word choice.
In German on the other hand, you have a variety of extremely different dialects that are tied into a single identity by the accepted "High-German". Very few people actually speak High German as a native tongue, though some dialects come closer to it than others - it was, and in some places still is, the language of more sophisticated people, to be spoken in official and formal situations. It should be noted that the Swiss are generally especially poor at High German, this comes from a general rejection of Germans and their culture and the fact that Swiss German is so different in grammar and vocabulary. (Yes, I realize this is a gross simplification, but for arguments sake, it is valid.)

What are you talking about with the comment of not wanting to take public transit?? Even if you live in Zürich central, how exactly do you plan to get anywhere without at least taking a tram? Where exactly in Canada are you coming from?

Not to mention that you’ve found one of the most expensive programs I’ve ever seen… this country is expensive enough without paying well over 4 times the market rate - 1010/week or 3200/4 weeks!? And that’s just the standard course… I thought 800/month was already insane.

As a side note, you won’t see a single cow in Zürich city… and there’s no possible way that you’ll learn enough German, especially in a Swiss environment, in a single summer to even begin to claim that you can speak it – the absolute most talented people still take at least 6 months to get the grammar under some form of control and people are absolutely amazed if you can string a basic conversation together after a year.
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Old 19.03.2011, 06:07
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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It should be noted that the Swiss are generally especially poor at High German, this comes from a general rejection of Germans and their culture and the fact that Swiss German is so different in grammar and vocabulary. (Yes, I realize this is a gross simplification, but for arguments sake, it is valid.)
Well, this seems rather inconvenient - if someone is planning to move to Sweden, they learn Swedish. If they want to move to Spain, you learn Spanish. What do you do if you want to speak to Swiss people? And if international job position openings in Zurich say " Fluent in English, German", which one do they mean?

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What are you talking about with the comment of not wanting to take public transit?? Even if you live in Zürich central, how exactly do you plan to get anywhere without at least taking a tram? Where exactly in Canada are you coming from?
I am talking about the type of transit where you commute like an hour. In Toronto, it takes me 1h10min to get to school every day; one way. I would say anything longer than 30min is depressing.

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Not to mention that you’ve found one of the most expensive programs I’ve ever seen… this country is expensive enough without paying well over 4 times the market rate - 1010/week or 3200/4 weeks!? And that’s just the standard course… I thought 800/month was already insane.
Yees, I though so too. But for instance in Berlin, it's 430-530/week. It's still expensive, but it's nothing compared to the money I pay here.

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As a side note, you won’t see a single cow in Zürich city…
And that's definite, you really don't like cows.
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Old 19.03.2011, 15:49
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

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Well, this seems rather inconvenient - if someone is planning to move to Sweden, they learn Swedish. If they want to move to Spain, you learn Spanish. What do you do if you want to speak to Swiss people? And if international job position openings in Zurich say " Fluent in English, German", which one do they mean?
Welcome to the closed societies of the old world. Read through what I wrote again - German is the official language, written and spoken for all official dealings. Therefore, they all understand High German, they just can't speak or write in it as well as they could - and I can guarantee that you won't understand a word of the dialect. The Swiss are somewhat overly *ehem* "proud" to be Swiss (just as many other societies are), and when they list off language requirements like that, it's usually a nice way of saying "if you're not from here, piss off". They're clearly not all like that, but judging by the volume of adds you can find listing "Swiss German Mother tongue" as a requirement... it's not hard to infer.

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I am talking about the type of transit where you commute like an hour. In Toronto, it takes me 1h10min to get to school every day; one way. I would say anything longer than 30min is depressing.
The layout of cities/towns here is completely different from Canada or the states. Forget everything you know about logistics, it'll only frustrate you in an infrastructure that was designed when the fastest thing around was a horse. Public transit over here is also completely different - it'll actually get you where you need to go, and usually on time too.


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Yees, I though so too. But for instance in Berlin, it's 430-530/week. It's still expensive, but it's nothing compared to the money I pay here.
Total rip-off. Don't go for the all-in-one deals, it's not exactly easy to find a place right in the city, but the extra cost of what you're looking at isn't worth it at all.


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And that's definite, you really don't like cows.
Nope, sorry, I'm a terrible Swiss. I actually kinda like the proposition to replace all cattle the world over with kangaroos...
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Old 20.03.2011, 06:13
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Re: Has anyone heard about ESL [language agency]?

Right, after your post, some job opening seem funny. Take this for instance: http://www.bombardier.com/en/corpora...ers/job-search - I think they say written German (so High?), they don't even bother to say as "native", they just say from ETH.

European geographical and urban street layouts, and transit systems... I think just memorizing the city map is a bit more complex because of the non-parallel and non-perpendicular streets. I happen to like that.

It's sad that not all swiss people like cows - I always imagined the little swiss mountain villages along with those old Milka commercials.

Thanks for the insights Fridge.
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