Language barriers in Switzerland


Learning a new language is a part of the expat process. Let's find out how crucial it is to know the language in Switzerland.

What is the official language in Switzerland, and what are the other popular spoken languages?

Is it possible to live in Switzerland and get by without speaking the language?

How do you manage to communicate with the locals if you don't speak the native/official language fluently?

What are some popular and useful phrases that expats absolutely need to know?

Can you share some tips about how to survive in Switzerland on a daily basis without speaking the language?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Hi, the Federation of Switzerland has 4 official languages, German, French, Italian and Reto-Romansch.
German is mainly spoken in the Northwestern, French in the Romandie, in areas like Geneva, Lausanne,etc., Italian in the southern area, Reto-Romansch is only spoken in a particular mountain area (approx. 50‘000 only).
In major Cities, like Basel, Zürich and Geneva, one gets around with English. Of course, it‘s always an advantage to learn the language spoken in the area of domicile, however, I suggest to always go for the real German, French and Italian, instead of trying to learn a Swiss dialect.
Especially in the Northwestern part Swiss-German is spoken by the locals, which is quite different from High German.
Once registering e.g. in the Basel Region, one gets offered free High German classes by the local Authorities.
Should anyone have further questions on the subject please contact me.



My name is Puspa, me is moving to Switzerland earlier next year for good. My husband is Swiss, he speaks German. Do you know where i can get a free German Class? we have plan to move to Zurich for 2 months beginning and begin to look other places.  I had already here in Indonesia A1. And now finished.
I continued with A2 right now.

Thanks for your help.

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