Languages of Switzerland
Switzerland has four national languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh. Information is always printed in German and French, and often in Italian as well. The German part of Switzerland has spoken regional dialects known as Swiss German. High German is the written language. English is widely spoken in Switzerland and is often used in business. Learning the local language and making an effort to understand the dialect will help with integration.
Learn more about the benefits of multilingualism in the article Multilingualism: an overlooked gift
Language schools in Bern/Biel-Bienne
German is the official language of Bern and Biel-Bienne is bilingual French and German. French and German language courses are widely available. The Integration-BE platform (DE) provides a comprehensive list of language courses in Canton Bern (DE), focusing strongly on integration. Some well-known language schools in the area include Migro Klubschule, Berlitz (in Bern and Biel-Bienne), Inlingua, Flying Teachers and Alemania. Volkschochschule (DE) Bern offers German courses as well as courses for 14 other languages.
If you prefer to practise outside of the traditional classroom setting, you might try Toastmasters or Rhetorik Club Bern (DE) to meet new people and practice your language skills. "Mukideutsch" (DE) is a language course for parents and children together. German courses are offered for free to students at the University of Bern.
Language courses & education
Courses vary according to structure, duration, degree of intensity, level, language, class size and cost. In general, there is an option to suit most people's needs. Most schools offer day and evening classes to accommodate students with other commitments. There are usually opportunities for study online, in small groups or in private lessons. Some schools offer language assessment exams to help determine your level before beginning a course, it may be taken online or at school. At certain locations it may also be possible to sit in and try an introductory lesson before committing to the entire course.
Things to consider when choosing a language school
Before making a final decision, visit the school in person to discuss your class options and to get a feel for the school culture and environment. Ask these questions:
- What training do the instructors undergo?
- What is the average class size?
- Is there an entrance test to ensure that you begin at the correct level?
- Is it possible to join an introductory class before enroling?
- Is the course material suitable and helpful?
- Is there a recognised certificate on completion of the course?
- Are private lessons available?
- Are other adult education courses available?