Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to learn Czech in the Czech Republic

Czech is a tough language, and many people in the Czech Republic believe that foreigners can't learn Czech, that is too difficult. But that's not true!

I come from Spain and I do speak Czech after 2 years and a half, in fact I could communicate after only 4 months. And now, I'd like to share my experience to help others.

Learning Czech can be fun, but as learning any other language, it will require you time and some money...

First of all, buy good text book. There are many books, but I recommended only one, Czech Step by Step. This book will make it easier for your brain to digest the Czech grammar. Chapter by chapter you will be learning grammar and vocabulary in small chunks, so that you will be able to assimilate it before starting with the next chapter. The design of the book is excellent, it colors the words depending on the gender to learn it visually instead than by heart.

Secondly, find a teacher! If you have a Czech boyfriend or girlfriend, you might think that he will be the teacher you need. But from my personal experience, it just doesn't work, it's way too easy to get distracted! You can also wait for you company or a language school to arrange a course for you, but we will be wasting a precious time. What I did was to find a private Czech teacher for 1-to-1 lessons, it will cost you some money, but it's definitively worth doing. Many students give language lessons for a very reasonable fee, and if you are not satisfied with your teacher, you can find a new one. In my case, I did 2 weeks of intensive lessons, 2 hours from Monday to Friday, and I could put sentences together after that!

Spend at least 3 hours per week learning Czech. After my 2-week intensive course, I spent at least 3 hours per week learning Czech. You can learn Czech with a private teacher, or do language exchange. In any case, try to stick to the book Czech Step by Step. Just bring it over to your private lessons or language exchange session and continue from where you left it last time. That book is so clear, that it doesn't require preparation in advance.

You can get lessons for free! Many companies offer Czech lessons to their employees, it might take a while, in my case, it took 1 year, but it will be definitively cheaper and more comfortable than having your own private teacher.

In Brno, you can get free lessons at Soze, a non-profit organization that helps foreigners integrate. It's a pity that many people don't know about this great organization because the staff does a great job organizing the courses and teaching.

Attend language meetings! There are regular language meetings in Brno to practice Czech, English, Spanish, French, ... And everybody is welcome regardless of his level. This will be a great chance to put in practice what you've learnt with very patient Czechs. And if you don't feel you are ready to speak, just come over and listen.

Watch movies in Czech, you can find inspiration on this IMDB list. The Czech sense of humor can be a bit twisted in communistic movies, but they are pretty good in general.

I hope these tips will help anybody, it did work with me... and if you have any question or suggestion, please feel free to comment!