What is voCHabular?

VoCHabular is an non-profit organization producing language materials that people can use to teach themselves German and Swiss German. Our goal is to help connect those who are new in Switzerland–particularly refugees–with those who already live here, and to help the newcomers feel welcome, comfortable, and competent in their new home. We aim to foster communication, understanding, and solidarity between all kinds of people. Our organization consists of more than 50 enthusiastic young volunteers who all share a passion for connecting and empowering people.

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What makes voCHabular special?

Anyone who has been to the German-speaking part of Switzerland can tell you that learning Swiss German is no easy feat! Even people who have studied years of German may find the local dialect to be an unsolvable mystery. That’s where we come in!

We are unique because our language materials teach Swiss German–mainly listening, with some speaking. What’s also special is that we offer versions of the book and app in many languages: English, Arabic, Amharic, and Persian, with even more languages currently in progress! They’re also unique in that they are specifically designed for self-teaching, which means that anyone with our materials can start to learn both standard and Swiss German as soon and as quickly (or slowly!) as works for them. The book and app have audio files, written exercises, dialogues, and more to ensure that the learner gets a balanced understanding of the language. The lessons are tailored to be as useful as possible to people who are beginning a life in Switzerland.

Another important and unique aspect of voCHabular is that both the book and app are offered for free to those who cannot afford to pay for a language book or course. (The app is free for everyone.) This is incredibly essential to us, as we hope to reduce barriers for people to learn German and adapt to living in Switzerland.

A fun bonus of voCHabular is that even though the target demographic is refugees, our language materials can be great for anyone: tourists in Switzerland, Swiss citizens from the non-German language regions, exchange students studying in Switzerland, or simply language enthusiasts!

Our team itself is special because we come from so many different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. The voCHabular organization in and of itself is already an integration project!

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Why do we need your help?

Our plan is to produce one thousand copies of our book. These books are really important, as they enable us to reach out to many learners that may be facing challenges for learning (Swiss) German. Perhaps their barriers are due to finances, language, marginalization, or other factors. Additionally, depending on where people end up living in Switzerland, they may have vastly different opportunities for learning German provided through the government. Sometimes, they don’t even receive an hour of German instruction per week. Our materials can make it possible to learn German and Swiss German for people who become isolated and have fewer language-learning opportunities. With the voCHabular language program, people can become more confident and independent in their Swiss lives, perhaps able to join an educational program, or find a job and support themselves and families, or just simply make friends and feel happy. Even though all of us working on voCHabular are doing so as volunteers, there are many costs involved in developing and producing a book and app.

We thank you wholeheartedly for your support–it is truly appreciated! Danke schön! Merssi vilmal!

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