German, French and Italian are spoken in different parts of Switzerland; here’s a guide to the many language schools in Switzerland, as well as online and computer language courses.
If you’re looking to learn German, French or Italian in Switzerland, you will find many international and local language schools to choose from. You can also find many resources to learn German, French and Italian online before you travel anywhere.
There are many German, French and Italian language courses in Switzerland for beginner, intermediate and advanced language learners, with prices ranging depending on the school you choose and the course level.
Here is a list of the main language schools in Switzerland, plus language schools in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich, as well as courses to learn German, French or Italian online. You can check if any top Swiss universities offer German, French or Italian language courses, or see Expatica’s listings of language schools in Switzerland.
National language schools in Switzerland
The Academia Language School is specialised in customised language training, and located in several big cities across Switzerland. The personal objectives and wishes of students are taken into consideration so that Academia can develop a customised educational concept. The school offers language instruction for children and adults, as well as for beginners and advanced students. German courses include lessons on an individual basis or in small groups in daytime or evening courses.
Locations: Aarau, Basel, Baselland, Bern, Biel, Lausanne, Lucerne, Ticino, Valais, Zug and Zurich
The language school of Alemania has branches in Zurich, Bern and Lucerne and specialises in teaching German. All courses are of a modular construction and can be combined with each other. The Beginners course takes place every day: twice weekly as an intensive course, twice a week as an evening course and once a week as a Saturday course. This broad selection of possibilities facilitates a flexible learning process by enabling students to swap courses when the need arises. A maximum of 14 students per course ensures a good teacher-to-student ratio.
Locations: Bern, Lucerne and Zurich
A to Z English
Established in 2008, A to Z English schools provide education in the Aargau, Schwyz, Zug and Zürich cantons in Switzerland. In total, they provide over 60 classes for children ages 3 or 4 through primary school, with a curriculum that teaches the most important reading, writing, grammar and spelling skills. The classes are designed for English-speaking, native, bi-lingual and multi-lingual children whose parents would like their children to maintain and develop their English skills. Both British and American English are taught.
Locations: Aargau, Schwyz, Zug and Zürich
In the Bénédict-Schule, French, German and Italian languages are taught, as well as English and Spanish.. You receive a free consultation and a free trial lesson. Lessons are tailored to each student’s needs, with individual targets developed in conjunction with the school. A placement test also makes sure that students are placed in the right group. A course certificate is provided at the end of the course as proof of qualification.
Locations: Zurich, Bern, Lucerne and St. Gallen
Berlitz is an international language school with more than 470 centres in over 70 countries. In Switzerland, French, German and Italian are taught. Individual and group lessons are available for both adults and children (7 to 17 year olds). Seminars are available for businesses upon request. The Berlitz language school also provides preparation courses for numerous internationally recognised language examinations.
Locations: Basel, Bern, Genève Carrefour de Rive, Lausanne, Lucerne, and Zurich
Boa Lingua is an independenly-owned language travel specialist, representing 300 of the world’s best and most renowned language schools in 30 different countries. Unlike other language courses, Boa Lingua is a language travel program that teaches all of Switzerland’s official languages to short and long-term travellers. Their headquarters is in Zurich but they have smaller offices all over the country.
Locations: Bern, Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Winterhur and Zurich
Inlingua language school has more than 300 sites worldwide and 12 schools in Switzerland including in the 5 top cities of Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne. French, German and Italian language courses are available in individual sessions, semi private groups or larger groups. Diploma and certificate courses are also available. The timetable for individual courses is set according to your daily schedule. The emphasis in the Inlingua language school is on speaking the language and the pace of teaching depends on the individual’s progress. The semi private groups consist of 2 or 3 students and are an alternative to larger group courses.
Locations: Basel, Bern, Biel, Friborg, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Neuchatel, Olten, Sion, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Thun and Zurich
This school offers flexible language courses: the client determines the location, time, content and frequency of the lessons. Flying Teachers offers you courses in your home, at your workplace, or anywhere you wish. Courses are available in French, German and Italian for individual students as well as groups.
Locations: Aarau, Baden, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, Neuchatel, Solothurn and Zurich
With over 600 different courses on offer, the Migros Club School is the largest further education institution in Switzerland, providing courses for people from all walks of life. Migros has over 50 sites all over Switzerland with half a million people attending various courses and training programmes. Apart from Switzerland’s official languages, the school also teaches Albanian, Chinese and Danish among many others.
Locations: Aargau, Basel, Bern, Central Switzerland, West Switzerland, Solothurn, Ticino, Wallis and Zurich
Swiss French School
Here, they use a unique method to teach you French. It is based on “blended learning”: You listen, you repeat and you practice. Once you have mastered the sounds, you study the grammar. This method is guaranteed by contract. Swiss French School endeavours to offer you various opportunities to practice the French language.
Locations: Biel-Bienne, Fribourg, Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Lausanne, Montreux, Neuchâtel
Language schools in Basel
- European Organisation of Languages: Gerbergasse 16, 4001 Basel | www.elo-basel.com
- Orsini Sprachschule: Steinentorstrasse 35, 4051 Basel | www.orsini.ch
Language schools in Bern
- University of Bern: Hochschulstrasse 4, 3012 Bern | www.unibe.ch
- Volkshochschule: Grabenpromenade 3, 3000 Bern | www.vhsbe.ch
Language schools in Geneva
- ASC Education Group: Rue de Lausanne 72, 1202 Geneva | www.asc-ih.ch
- Ecolde Varadi: Avenue de Frontenex 32, 1207 Geneva | www.ecole-varadi.ch
- Swiss French School: Rue Michel-Roset 2, 1201 Genève | www.swissfrenchschool.ch
Language schools in Lausanne
- Eurocentres: Avenue Benjamin-Constant 1, 1003 Lausanne | www.eurocentres.com
- Swiss French School: Rue du Simplon 34, 1006 Lausanne | www.swissfrenchschool.ch
- Voxea Swiss Private Academy: Avenue Benjamin-Constant 1, 1003 Lausanne | www.voxea.com
Language schools in Zurich
- LSI – Language Studies International: Kreuzstrasse 36, 8008 Zurich | www.lsi.edu
- The Cambridge Institute: Seidengasse 6, 8001 Zürich | www.cambridge.ch
Learn German, French or Italian online: computer and online language courses
Most companies claim to have the best programme to learn languages quickly and retain everything. However, since everyone learns differently, explore the teaching style used by the programme before you buy. Here are a few good language software titles.
- Tell Me More French/German/Italian
- Fluenz French/German/Italian
- Rosetta Stone French/German/Italian
- Berlitz French/German/Italian Premier
- Instant Immersion French/German/Italian
- French/German/Italian Learning Suite
- Living Language Platinum
- Hello-Hello World
- Pimsleur Comprehensive
- Transparent Language
Remember: Some of these titles are pretty costly, ranging from €32 up to €150 or more.
A lot of what you can buy can be found on the Internet for free, so don’t be afraid to look around.
The BBC actually has a very innovative product that also includes audio files, a valuable asset when trying to learn a language. Another great resource is Radio Lingua Network (www.radiolingua.com), which offers short audio language tutorials, downloadable as podcasts. Another great resource is www.openculture.com.
You may also want to buy pocket phrase books that will help you get through the day-to-day essentials. They won’t be great at in-depth grammar usage and explanations but they will definitely have useful phrases. It would also be good to have an electronic translator to carry around just in case — Google Translate and Word Reference are quite useful free apps, which often give you an audio as well as written translation.