Learning German For Members

Five places to learn Swiss German for free in Basel

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Five places to learn Swiss German for free in Basel
Learning German in Basel doesn't have to cost the world. Photo by Harald Hechler from Pexels.

Getting to grips with German and particularly Swiss German is no easy feat. Lucky, there are ample opportunities to master the language (for free) all around Basel.


Let’s accept it. Learning German is not easy. And if you try to learn Swiss German, it could be as tricky as nailing jelly to a tree.

However, the difficulty is not the only reason many immigrants don’t pick up the local language as much as they would like. Sometimes, it is just that you are working too much to find time to learn, or you are unemployed and find these courses quite expensive, or you are a homemaker who does not need much language skills, so why invest time and energy?

Even then, if you have been living in Switzerland for some time, you must have been motivated to learn the local language at least at some point. The good news is that city authorities in Switzerland recognise these reasons and, therefore, offer free German courses to motivate people to learn the language more socially.

Canton Basel-City

The canton of Basel-City finances a free German course (level A1-B2) consisting of 80 lessons for newly arrived migrants in the first twelve months of their long-term stay.

As part of the welcome conversation at the residents’ office, a personalised voucher will be given to you which can then be redeemed at a certified language school that is recognised by the canton of Basel-City.

You can find a suitable German course here.

GGG Benevol

GGG Benevol arranges so-called language partnerships consisting of one German speaker and one foreign language speaker.


To start you off, you will be matched with a volunteer who will be interested in getting to know you and help you speak German. You decide together when and where the meetings will take place and what you want to talk about. The meetings are not a language course and are offered by volunteers, not professional teachers. Hence, they can take place in casual settings such as in coffee shops or going for a relaxing stroll around your Basel neighbourhood.

You must be 18 or over and should be able to commit to at least six months of these German conversation meet-ups. You can express your interest here.

READ MORE: What are the best websites and apps to learn German?

LoLa – Quartiertreffpunkt St. Johann

If you’d rather save some money on language learning, you may want to give LoLa a try. At LoLa, you can meet other people for casual chats, games, or a coffee – or surf the internet all by yourself.

The LoLa opens on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 9.30am as well as on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9am with an Eritrean breakfast offer. You can also have lunch there from Monday to Friday between 11.30am and 1.30pm and will even get 2 Swiss francs off if you register a day early.

More information here.



Founded in 2015 in Berlin, Tandem was launched by three friends on a mission to connect the world through languages. Today, the website has tens of millions of members from all over the world that use their webpage and mobile apps to help each other learn new languages either via video chat, audio, or text.

You can find Basel-based Tandem partners who speak fluent German and even Swiss German to improve your language skills here.

READ MORE: 10 must-see films and series to help you improve your German


If a traditional school set-up is not your cup of tea, one way of getting a grasp of the German language (and fast) is by meeting up with a native speaker.

Meetup is a great way of joining both (Swiss) German speakers and other language learners who are new to the area on organised meet-up outings, so you can not only improve your German (for free) but also make friends while learning more about Basel.

The downside? You may still want to consider investing in one or two grammar books as meeting up with locals may well see your conversational skills skyrocket, but you may find yourself lagging behind on your writing skills.

Meetup has many Basel-based groups such as ExPatting in Basel, Basel Together, and the German Conversation Group Basel.

Language Exchange

If you are gunning for a language partner of your choice, however, a good website to try out is Language Exchange where you will quickly find multiple native French speakers – either to meet up with or write to.

However, there is a small downside. While creating a profile and responding to messages is free, if you’re looking to reach out to an individual of your choosing, you will need to become a Gold Member.


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