You can survive in Switzerland without German.
It's true. If you speak English, you will almost always be sufficiently equipped for casual and tourist and even some school situations. Knowing the language is not necessary.
But it enriches life. I can't explain how happy I am that I'm learning German, simply because it gives me so many more opportunities. I don't just learn about the language, but about the people and the values and the culture of my host country.
And the more that I practice my German and Swiss German, the more I want to learn. Not only more about the German language or the English language (that too), but about new languages, new cultures. In only 6 months, I've reached conversational fluency* in two languages... and with work and practice, absolutely anyone can do the same thing! Isn't that amazing?
So with that in mind, here are the top 5 languages I'd like to learn in the next 5 years:
- French. because it is lovely. also because I just want to be able to speak fluent French. in the next 5 years, I PROMISE myself that I will get to conversational fluency in French.
- Mandarin Chinese. because I want to be able to speak the language of my country of origin, and also because apparently it’s one of the hardest languages for English speakers and I might as well take the opportunity given to me by birth.
- Portuguese. because it is quite possibly the most beautiful language ever.
- Spanish. technically I’ve already worked to learn this one but I want to be fluent, or at least conversationally so. also it is one of the most useful languages to have in the US.
- Romanian. because while I’d like to learn Latin, it really doesn’t help that much (no one speaks full Latin) and people do speak Romanian which is 80% Latin anyhow.
(and some languages that almost made the list)
- Italian. because who doesn’t dream of speaking fluent Italian, I mean really. it’s like almost more like singing instead of talking, plus you get to wave your arms around and shout at people and no one takes it personally or gets offended.
- Afrikaans. because why not. it's one of the newest languages in the world and yet the fourth most spoken Germanic language (after English, German, and Dutch). Also, it's said to be one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. "Easiest", of course, relatively speaking...
- Icelandic. just because secretly I've always wanted to be an Inkling (or a Coalbiter).
*note: conversational fluency to me means three things: a) i can successfully get my point across without translating every word in my head first and b) i can understand basically everything the other person says in a normal conversation, and they can understand me and c) the language becomes a default for me (i.e. I exclaim spontaneous things in german and swiss german, often without thinking). I believe I'm past this point, but I'm not very close to native fluency :(