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Old 12.03.2007, 13:24
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Language barrier (English - read South African)

Hello there...

I apologise in advance if this has been asked before but I have searched the threads and cant see an answer anywhere...

We are South African (wife Swiss citizen)... we both only speak English and are considering the moving to Switzerland... however, everywhere we go we are told that it is near impossible, the language barrier is too great, and that based on language alone we wont make it work. My wife has been to Switzerland many times, loves it but is also worried.

I havent been before but (correct me if I am wrong), should get a work visa, but wonder how many company's will employ an English speaker only, for a salary that can support two kids...

Am I wasting my time considering Switzerland as an option? I realise that there are a whole host of other issues to consider but if possible would like to take care of an issue at a time...
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Old 12.03.2007, 13:45
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Hi CG,

I have been here 6.5 years - and unfortunately, for me, I am able to get along just peachy without German. If you have some africaans then I have been told (by fellow Sth Africans) that it is easier to pick up.

That said I shall be reentering the world of German lessons again soon as it's just plain embarrasing after being here for so long

There are many multinationals here that deal mainly in English. Howeveer, it really depends on your area of expertise?!?!

As to whether it's the right move to make well...I love SA & try to go back at least once a year. However, just on safety factor alone there is no question. There are various threads containing links for job & apartment agencies etc on here.

The link below organise lots of SA events etc so you wouldn't get too home sick
http://www.saclub.ch/
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Old 12.03.2007, 13:53
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

What do you & your wife do for a living? This will really determine whether or not you will get by on only English.
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:02
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

I am in finance and insurance, have an MBA through a British University (done distance learning), and degree through local SA university, she is in marketing (has a degree through a local SA university).

Ideally I dont want her to work (neither does she), as we have two little ones... one of 5 months and the other of 2 yrs...

I am prepared to learn German / French, depening on where we end up, but my grasp of languages is not particularly good. I have a fair grasp of Afrikaans, but wouldnt bet the farm on it.
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:12
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Hey Curious George,

I'm from SA and have been living here since Nov last year, still early days...

I would have to say a big factor would be where you land up. I'm in Zürich and I can tell you it's not difficult at all.
Zürich is a very international, mixed city and english is pretty widely spoken.
Job wise, I work for a large bank and am in the IT sector and we only speak english at the office, I'm having to take lessons on the side to learn German for my own benifit as I'm certainly not going to learn it be simple exposure on a daily basis.

You can give me a shout if you guys need to know anaything more, I would be more than willing to help out a fellow Safrican... Could give you some good tips

Cheers
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:12
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

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I am in finance and insurance, have an MBA through a British University (done distance learning), and degree through local SA university, she is in marketing (has a degree through a local SA university).

Ideally I dont want her to work (neither does she), as we have two little ones... one of 5 months and the other of 2 yrs...

I am prepared to learn German / French, depening on where we end up, but my grasp of languages is not particularly good. I have a fair grasp of Afrikaans, but wouldnt bet the farm on it.
There are a lot of SA outfits based in Switzerland that do trade credit, investement management etc for South Africans and their companies and are here for tax purposes. For example try Stonehage in Neuchatel, Im sure there are others.

Daniel
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:13
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

A lot of jobs in Banking/Finance/Insurance are English speaking roles so you should not have a problem. The fact you have an MBA helps too. Check out the UBS website, they have a carreer section for MBA's. Also check with the recruitment agencies in Zurich that deal with IT & Finance such as Swisslinx, you can search in the employment section for a lot more of them.
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:17
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Silly question maybe, but have you tried looking for positions in the most obvious places?;
www.ubs.com
www.credit-suisse.com
www.swissre.com
www.Zurich.com

Just for starters?!?!?

Also the following site might be useful for you to keep abreast of things from afar www.swissinfo.org
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Old 12.03.2007, 14:18
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Also do yourself a favour and call \ contact the following guys :

(tel:+41 43 210 1271 www.stamford-consultants.com

Financial agency - Placements.

Really great bunch.
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Old 13.03.2007, 07:08
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Woww.. thank you for all your help. I am feeling like it is worth looking further into and may just take up on the offer for assistance from those who offered. I have a whole bunch of other questions but will ask under the relevant posts (I think there are threads already).... I am going to try and get some German lessons before making a final decision anyway so hopefully I can at least order a Coke in German (Coca-cola )....
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Old 13.03.2007, 07:19
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

The language issue is only really important in finding that job. Being a foreigner and not knowing the local language makes that a bit more difficult than you might expect.

For everyday life you could get by without it - although obviously you will want to learn once you are here.

dave

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What do you & your wife do for a living? This will really determine whether or not you will get by on only English.
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Old 13.03.2007, 14:20
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

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The language issue is only really important in finding that job. Being a foreigner and not knowing the local language makes that a bit more difficult than you might expect.

For everyday life you could get by without it - although obviously you will want to learn once you are here.

dave
Dave, how much more difficult than I might expect. I know that this is a very open ended question, but in everyday life....?
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Old 13.03.2007, 17:59
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

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Dave, how much more difficult than I might expect. I know that this is a very open ended question, but in everyday life....?
In terms of your ability to converse with the natives, keep up to date with what´s happening around you, read your mail, financial stuff (for example).... I mean I´m sure in Zurich you can easily live without knowing the language, but you will never really feel part of things until you get a grasp of it. I came to Germany without much knowledge of the language, and while I´ve got by pretty well and have picked up a lot just being here, I also feel that I´ve missed out on a lot by not being able to communicate (I´m one of those people who prefer to mix with those of the country I´ve moved to rather than search out people from my home town!)...if you´re happy surrounding yourself with South Africans or other native English speakers that´s fine but from your post I gathered that you want more to experience the Swiss life. I´ve decided to head for the French part of CH as I speak French much better than German and I hope I will feel more at home there than I do here in Germany. I guess you don´t realise how important it is to be able to communicate until you can´t
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Old 14.03.2007, 05:36
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Re: Language barrier (English - read South African)

Thanks, and you're right. We want to move our home, and I guess if my children grow up in Switzerland then they will become Swiss (in the purest sense), then I need to too.

We discussed our first visit last night and have a couple of dates set. I suppose it confirms what I suspected that I should at least learn a language before going to make the best of it.

Thanks for everyones help.
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