Austria or Switzerland? What will be better for a B1 student?
Hi, so I was accepted to two six-month exchange programs, one to Austria and the other to Switzerland. I noticed that each country has its own dialect, and also read that it may even be difficult to some Germans to understand those dialects.
I am currently at level B2, just passed B1, and am wondering if I will benefit from any of those countries at all, or if I will be able to practice my Hoch Deutsch, as that is what I speak (B1.)
Thanks for your help :)
I imagine Austria is a bit nearer standard German German than Switzerland, but I'd choose Switzerland any day of the week, simply because it's such a fascinating and obscenely beautiful place.
But I should think that any native German speaker in either of these places will understand your Hochdeutsch, even if his own dialect is nigh incomprehensible to you.
Switzerland is beautiful, no question about that, but if your focus is on learning German, go to Austria. You won't understand anything in Switzerland - not even Germans or Austrians understand the Swiss dialects. So, listening in on other people's conversations when you're out and about and picking up stuff from that, which is always great for the language learner, won't work there. Also, Switzerland is super expensive. But you can always visit Switzerland while you're in Austria, it's only a short train ride away.
Austrian German is much easier for me to understand than Swiss German. Everyone will understand you in either country though, if they speak German. There's a part of Switzerland where most people speak French.
Both AT and CH are very beautiful countries but I prefer AT for several reasons: 1. The people are friendlier and warmer to tourists, especially until they get to know you well. It's easier to strike up a conversation with an ATian. (Yes, this is a stereotype but my it's also my personal experience.) 2. Prices are generally lower in AT. That includes basics like food, drink (including beer), transport, etc. 3. While ATians speak their own dialects, it's not nearly as obscure as CH dialects. AT dialects are also similar to DE dialects along their common border, e.g. Tirol and Bayern. 4. It's generally easier/faster to go to DE for a short trip from AT than from CH.
I am Swiss and I absolutely agree with everyone here, Austria is a much better place to learn German (unless you are a PhD student - the pay is better here :-))
Just be mindful that there are regions in Austria with quite strong dialects too: Südtirol (ahem, ...which actually is in Italy...) for example wouldn't be an ideal place to learn German.
I wish you all the best for your exchange semester - I hope you will have a great time! And do visit Switzerland if you have the time, it's nice here, we just talk funny.
"there are regions in Austria with quite strong dialects too: Südtirol"
Südtirol hasn't been part of Austria for almost a century ;)
But your general point is correct. I can't understand someone who speaks a heavy Austro-Tirolian dialect any better than I can a Swiss dialect.