Learn Swiss German (and Standard German) with voCHabular

According to UNESCO, German is one of the most difficult languages in the world. At the same time, it is one of the most studied languages in the world. But anyone learning German in the German-speaking part of Switzerland faces an additional challenge: There is not only standard German, but also Swiss German, which is the language used most often in everyday communication. So you may have learnt German perfectly, but still find it hard to understand people when they speak Swiss German. This is where the question arises: Can you learn Swiss German?

Yes, you can learn Swiss German! Of course, as with any language, there are different approaches. This blog post is about learning standard and/or Swiss German using voCHabular’s autodidactic language guide, which allows you to learn on your own, without a teacher or course.

Who is voCHabular?

voCHabular is a project and an association whose vision is an inclusive, open and supportive society. This is why they have developed an autodidactic language guide to learn standard and/or Swiss German and thus make it easier to integrate into everyday life in Switzerland.

How does the autodidactic language guide work?

The autodidactic language guide is available in print, as a PDF and soon as an app.

There are also different editions of the autodidactic language guide: Arabic, English, Farsi/Dari (Persian), French, Spanish and Turkish.

Using the English edition as an example, the structure of the language guide is presented below.

How is the language guide structured?

Three colours are used in the language guide: Black for the language in which the language guide is published (e.g. English), green for standard German and blue for Swiss German.

You can access the audio files via the QR codes or the website.

The language guide consists of six chapters, and it also contains the solutions to the exercises.

The first chapter contains general information about Switzerland, the language guide and learning German.

The second chapter is about the alphabet and pronunciation.

The other chapters are divided into sub-chapters, each dealing with a specific topic, such as getting to know each other, family, daily routine, time of day, public transport and means of transport.

At the end of each chapter there is a sub-chapter called “revision” to review and consolidate what you have learned.

New topics are always introduced with a dialogue, in both standard and Swiss German:

Dialogues (Source: voCHabular. (2022). https://vochabular.ch/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/en_vochabular_buch_1.pdf, accessed 28.08.2023.)

You can also listen to the dialogues using the QR codes.

This is followed by important information about the dialogues and grammar topics, tips and exercises. Here is an example of a grammar overview:

Grammar overview (Source: voCHabular. (2022). https://vochabular.ch/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/en_vochabular_buch_1.pdf, accessed 28.08.2023.)

The vocabulary overview is also available in three languages:

Vocabulary overview (Source: voCHabular. (2022). https://vochabular.ch/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/en_vochabular_buch_1.pdf, accessed 28.08.2023.)

How much does the language guide cost?

As the autodidactic language guide is intended to be accessible to all, there is no fixed price. Anyone can donate as much as they can.

It should be noted that the voCHabular learning resources are developed by volunteers. Some of the costs are covered by foundations. The rest is covered by donations.

A donation of CHF 15.00 covers the cost of materials. Any donation over CHF 15.00 will enable further translations and extended editions, further development of the app and promotion of the association.

Let’s get started!

Whether you want to learn standard German, Swiss German or both, the voCHabular autodidactic language guide is an excellent tool for everyday life in German-speaking Switzerland. Try it for yourself and feel free to post your experiences in the comments below!

Nelly Müller – Sprachen Akademie

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