Two out of three Swiss people regularly speak several languages, a nation of polyglots

STATISTICS

More than two thirds of the Swiss population speak more than one language. At national level, the most spoken language is German, however, the «schwizerdütsch» is essential among children - In Italian-speaking Switzerland, only a little more than a third of the inhabitants use the dialect. English being the most common non official language.

Two out of three Swiss people regularly speak several languages, a nation of polyglots
Two out of three Swiss people regularly speak several languages

Two out of three Swiss people regularly speak several languages, a nation of polyglots

Two out of three Swiss people regularly speak several languages

More than two-thirds of the Swiss resident population aged 15 or over regularly uses more than one language. The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) indicates this today, specifying that at national level the most widely used language is German, but the «schwizerdütsch» is essential among children. In Italian-speaking Switzerland, only a little over a third of the inhabitants use the dialect.

According to the first results of the FSO’s Language, Religion and Culture Survey, 68% of the Swiss population aged 15 and over use more than one language at least once a week. 38% use two languages, 21% three, 6.4% four and 1.7% five or more.

Those who declare that they use a single language are 32%, a figure down on what was found in 2014. Those who do not use other languages ​​are mainly the elderly (64% of those over 75).

Unsurprisingly, the regular use of multiple languages ​​is much more common among the population with a migration background: 41% of first generation foreigners and 49% of second or third generation ones regularly use at least three languages, while this value is only 21% for those without an immigration background.

The languages ​​most spoken in the Confederation reflect the linguistic division of the country: 76% regularly use German, 65% Swiss German, 39% French, 15% Italian, 1.9% a dialect of the Italian-speaking Switzerland and 0.9% Romansh.

The most used foreign language is English (45% of residents). Its regular use is more marked in the German-speaking regions than in the Italian and French-speaking ones, as well as among young people.

The various national languages ​​are mostly spoken in their respective regions: in German-speaking Switzerland 97% of the population uses German, 89% «schwizerdütsch», in Romandie 97% of residents use French, while in Italian-speaking Switzerland the 100% of the inhabitants use Italian and 36% use the dialect.

Among children under the age of 15, the main language spoken at home is Swiss-German (57%), followed by French (28%), German (16%) and Italian (8, 8%). The most widespread foreign language is English (7.5%), followed by Albanian (6.7%), Portuguese (4.9%), Spanish (4.9%), Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian ( 3.8%) and Turkish (2.8%).

Finally, it should be noted that one in five people over the age of 25 is learning or perfecting one or more languages. The reasons for doing so are mainly professional.

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