Language courses (to learn one of Switzerland's national languages)
Language courses are available in all regions of Switzerland. The range of different courses on offer is extremely wide in large towns and more limited in rural areas. The number of lessons, teaching contents, methods and the speed of learning differ from course to course. It is recommended that you take the time to find a suitable offer. Make the most of the opportunity to attend trial lessons.
Which is the best language course for you?
This depends on the following factors:
- What do you already know in the language you wish to learn?
- Are you (still) used to learning foreign languages in a school environment?
- Is your main aim to learn colloquial language? Is it important for you to learn grammatical subtleties?
- What do you hope to achieve by attending the course (e.g. learning colloquial language, grammatical knowledge, spelling, improving vocabulary or conversation, preparing for an examination)?
- Which methods of learning appeal to you?
- What is your life situation? How much time and energy do you have to learn? Who will support you?
- What is on offer in your region?
Special courses on offer
There are numerous courses on offer. We would like to bring the following courses to your attention in particular:
- Literacy courses are recommended for people who have not yet learnt to write or who have not yet mastered the Latin alphabet. They are provided by, for example, A.I.D.A in St. Gallen (http://www.aidasg.ch) , ECAP in Zurich, Basel and further cities (http://www.ecap.ch) as well as by ISA in Berne [http://www.isabern.ch]
- There are also literacy courses in some rural areas.
- An increasing number of courses are aimed at women in particular and some are exclusively for mothers. Sometimes childcare is provided during the courses. In various towns, there are even free offers, such as "Lernen im Park" (learn in the park). "Verein Johanna"
- Integration courses for young people, pre-apprenticeships, etc. provide preparation for professional training. You can obtain information from commercial vocational schools, vocational guiding centres or pertinent information bureaus (http://www.berufsberatung.ch)
- Integration courses for adults contain language teaching and social information about life in Switzerland.
- The University of Fribourg offers intensive language courses and preparatory courses as preparation for university studies.
- Swiss German courses are offered by, for example, Migros Club Schools.
Costs and financing
Private schools charge prices that cover their costs. Offers provided by services for foreigners, vocational schools, associations, etc. are often more reasonable because they are subsidised.
Generally, language courses need to be financed privately.
If you are seeking a job, the unemployment insurance fund may finance a course even if you are not entitled to unemployment benefit. (Swiss federal unemployment insurance law (AVIG), article 59 d). The condition is that the course increases your opportunities of finding a job. The Regional Placement Office (Regionales Arbeitsvermittlungszentrum, RAV) decides whether this is the case. Unemployment insurance funds only finance a course if, as a job seeker, you prove that you have been making an effort to find a job via the RAV. Contact the RAV responsible for you and discuss the procedure. If the unemployment insurance fund refuses to pay for course attendance, you can request to appeal against the decision and raise objections. (Unemployment)
What is on offer in your region?
Language schools, professional schools, aid agencies, services for foreigners, associations, etc. offer language courses.
You can obtain information about the courses on offer in your region on:
- Cantonal and municipal integration delegates and services for foreigners
- Contact addresses in cantons in Western Switzerland:
Fribourg: Centre Suisses-Immigrés (CSI) 026 424 21 25
Geneva: Hospice Général, Geneva 022 420 26 60
Jura: Secrétariat de l'Office de l'Enseignement, Delémont 032 420 54 22
Neuchâtel: Centre social protestant, La Chaux-de-Fonds 032 968 37 31
Valais: Centre Suisses-Immigrés (CSI) 027 323 12 46
Vaud: Centre social protestant, Lausanne 021 320 56 81