While navigating German language schools in Zurich, we've quickly realized that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
From government-subsidized language schools to online German courses and even "flying teachers," Zurich offers a wide range of options. The key to selecting a German language school is to match one's goals with the right type of school.
Why learn German in Zurich?
For new arrivals to Zurich, there are lots of good reasons to hit the ground running by picking up the local language quickly. Some basic German helps with integration in the community, even if it means being able to exchange a few words with the neighbors or with other parents.
Once in the job market, essential German skills are considered an important asset on a resumé, even if the job description does not explicitly ask for it. And finally, German skills will be a tremendous ice-breaker when it comes to networking with Swiss coworkers.
Learning German in Zurich is easy because there are lots of schools, but there is a twist. The locals in Zurich speak a variant of German called Swiss German, or Schweizerdeutsch. They will only use German when it comes to written communication. In practice, this means that picking up German in everyday interactions with locals is fairly difficult. One of the few practice materials at your disposal will be the news, which is written in German. In any case, it is perfectly fine for you to practice your German in conversations with the Swiss.
How to pick a German language school in Zurich?
There are numerous language schools in Zurich that provide quality learning. But how to find a perfect fit? Which criteria matter when comparing the schools? And which instructional formats are best suited for the individual needs? Below are the vital steps to finding the ideal German language school that fits your needs.
The most vital aspect of a language school is that the learners are satisfied. Student satisfaction is usually a direct result of the course quality, the class size, and the instructor. Online forums and word of mouth are good ways to evaluate the reputation of a school.
The second most important factor in picking a school is the learning method:
Pricing and Availability
The final factors in your due diligence should be the accreditation of the school, as well as the availability and pricing of German courses.
In order to save you the hassle of due diligence once you are ready to study Deutsch in Zürich, we have done some research for you. Based on everything we have learned across forums, reader feedback, and other online sources, we have compiled our findings for the top 3 schools German language schools in Zurich.
The top 3 German language schools in Zurich
Tuition: starting at CHF 18 per 45-minute lesson
Class size: 4 to 10 students
Benefits: Convenient location at Zurich Stadelhofen, flexible/pro-rated tuition based on starting date
Tuition Deutsch am Arbeitsplatz: CHF 5 per 45-minute lesson (books excluded)
Class size: 6 to 14 students
Benefits: Mature and motivated student body, everyday situations and vocabulary take precedence over grammar, various locations around Zurich
More information (in German only)
Tuition: starting at CHF 125 per 60-minute lesson
Class size: One-to-one coaching sessions
Benefits: Based on personal needs and interests, you will be matched with a locally trained coach to learn German or Swiss German. You have the freedom to choose any location, and your coach will teach you real-world language that is practical and relevant to you.
More information (Mention Newly Swissed for a CHF 60 discount off your first session)
Bonus: Duolingo for free language learning
Duolingo is an online community offering free language courses in more than 30 languages - including German, French and Italian. We have taken their French classes before and got sucked in by the built-in gamification elements ("Just one more level until you reach...")
We like Duolingo because it combines the traditional way of learning a language ("Basics") with interactive elements (eg. lists of top students). The best part is that language courses can be attended while on the go: the free mobile app contains much the same classes as the browser version.
Although much of a school's overall reputation is made up of the character and skill level of particular teachers, it is fair to say that the following schools are often reported to be of rather mediocre quality:
Please help to keep this post current by adding your own experiences in the comments below!