Views #968 | Intermediate 5

Speaking of Switzerland

Anja talks about the many languages and regions of her country.

Todd: Now, also your country is really famous for having different regions, correct? You have three main regions?

Anja: We have four.

Todd: Four?

Anja: Actually.

Todd: Could you talk about them?

Anja: Yes, we have four regions and this actually concerns the languages, which we have four official languages. It's German, French, Italian, and Romansh. And actually, the last one, Romansh, it became an official language just like twelve years ago, and only a little part the Swiss population can speak Romansh, actually, but it just sort of became a national, an official language some years ago. And yeah, well, the country's really small and we sometimes have some troubles communicating to each other, but usually people talk at least two languages, so it works out most of the time.

Todd: So, in your country, you don't have the one uniform language that everybody speaks?

Anja: No, we don't. Like we have Swiss, but Swiss is only being used in the German speaking part of Switzerland, which means like we don't actually use German when we talk. It's only for writing, but when we talk to each other, to our parents, to our teachers, we use Swiss.

Todd: So Swiss is closest to German? It's Germanic?

Anja: Yes, you can say that but it's very difficult for German people to understand us when we're talking actually because it's really fast and a really cute language, apparently. Yes.

Todd: Now, what is the percentage breakdown, like what percentage is French, Italian, etc?

Anja: I couldn't tell you the percentage but the biggest part is German, followed by French, Italian, and Romansh is only zero point five percent of the population, so.

Todd: And just out of curiosity, Romansh, what does that sound like? Does that sound like Italian or?

Anja: It's a mix of the three main languages I would say, like a mix of German, French, and Italian and, I can catch a word here or there but, yeah, I don't really understand it.

Todd: And lastly, what part are you from in Switzerland?

Anja: I'm from the German part.

Todd: OK.

Anja: Yes.

Todd: Oh, thanks Anja.

Anja: Oh, you're welcome.


Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

official language


Our country has only one official language.

A country's official language is usually the one most people speak. The official language is chosen by the government. Notice the following.

  1. The official language is English.
  2. English and French are the official languages of Canada.

work out


It works out most of the time.

'It works out' means in the end, everything is OK. Notice the samples.

  1. It's not the best way, but it usually works out OK.
  2. My wife cooks and I clean. It works out great!

uniform language

There isn't one uniform language.

A 'uniform Language' means the language most people speak. Here are some samples.

  1. Some Canadians would prefer one uniform language.
  2. We don't really have one uniform Language.


Apparently he likes it.

We use 'apparently ' when something seems to be true but we're not sure. Notice the sample sentences.

  1. Apparently there's a problem with the software.
  2. We knocked twice, apparently he's not home.

zero point five percent

Zero point five percent of the population.

Zero point five percent looks like this: 0.5%. Notice the samples.

  1. Zero point five percent is really low. Are you sure?
  2. Less than zero point five percent own a car.

just out of curiosity


And, just out of curiosity, is she single?

When we want to know something 'just out of curiosity', we want to know for no
special reason. Notice the following.

  1. I'd like to know just out of curiosity.
  2. Just out of curiosity, how much is it?

catch a word here or there


If I listen carefully, I can catch a word here or there.

When we 'catch a word here or there' it means that we understand only a little of the conversation. Notice the samples

  1. I studied Spanish in high school so I can catch a word here or there.
  2. If he speaks slowly, I can catch a word here or there.

Vocabulary Quiz

official • work out • uniform • apparently • one point two • out of curiosity • catch a word
  1. , where did you learn to speak French?
  2. Our company will grow by percent in the next year.
  3. Situations like these usually for the best.
  4. I didn't of what you just said.
  5. they will be on vacation that weekend.
  6. What is the language of Estonia?
  7. There are people from all over the world, but English is the language of the group.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Free Courses from ELLLO

One Minute English Videos

Free Courses from ELLLO