How to start learning Czech?
We talk a lot about specialties and universities in the Czech Republic. A European diploma, which is accepted in many countries, allows students to work anywhere in the world. Knowledge of foreign languages makes our applicants highly specialized specialists, which is something that is highly valued. That is why we decided to tell you why it is important to study Czech or Slovak.
Learning Czech/Slovak is essential for those who wish to:
- travel independently around the magical Prague or Bratislava;
- find a job in a country with different standards of living;
- enroll in one of the prestigious universities in the Czech Republic or Slovakia;
- use foreign resources;
- socialize with people from all over the world.
Where to start?
It is important to realize that the Czech and Slovak languages are not Russian, but quite an independent phenomenon, so you should not rely on your native language. Many people find this misleading and even more confusing when learning the basics of grammar. Nevertheless, these languages are more intuitive than German or French.
1. You can start by learning simple words.
Students who come to us for training can already say their name, where they are from and tell us about their family composition. These are basic things that everyone learns at the beginning. You can learn about your apartment and furnishings.
Lifehack! Write down the words you are learning - this is an important step in memorization. You can use stickers and place them on objects, so they will always be in front of your eyes.
Lifehack! Be sure to listen to the correct pronunciation of the word before memorizing it. You can use Google and Youtube to find the audio. And of course read the words loudly otherwise you will only understand, but not speak.
Mastering the alphabet is not difficult, but there are a few rules. The Czech alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, but the language is specific, so everything is complicated by diacritical marks. In Czech they are called haček, charka and mug. And this affects the sound of the letters and their pronunciation:
- A - can be pronounced as short and long;
- E - as soft, long and short;
- I - can be short, long and soft;
- O - long and short, U also;
- Y - can be hard, short and long;
- Z - can be read as a "z" and as a "g".
Note the letters r and l. They are syllable-forming, even though they are vowels. Without the involvement of vowels, they can form a syllable with other consonants.
The syllable-forming sound is pronounced with the participation of the voice and stretched in duration, that is, a short vowel appears next to them. In Russian, such letters are read as syllables -er-, -el-, -ol-, -or-. There is also a double letter Ch.
Which is more important: grammar or vocabulary?
Those who start learning a language think that they can only take vocabulary and they don't need grammar, but there is a catch. They are two complementary parts that cannot exist without each other. By learning vocabulary, you will come to grammar, and vice versa.
Grammar is the "framework" of language, without which you cannot build your speech.
2. Start learning the basics of grammar.
Therefore, it is better to start learning with the basics, e.g:
- use of the verb "být";
- accent placement;
- modal verbs;
- the use and pronunciation of words with "charka" and "gachek";
- declension of nouns;
- sentence construction;
- use of present, past and future tenses.
You may have the impression that it is very difficult, but you should not give up so quickly.
The grammar of Czech and Slovak has many similarities with Russian, so learning it should not cause serious difficulties.
Regular addition to your vocabulary is a must.
3. Build up your vocabulary on a regular basis.
In the beginning, you should master simple words and expressions that are useful in everyday life. You can read books, watch videos or listen to music, writing out unfamiliar words or favorite expressions. This is our students' favorite, this is how they learn Czech culture, listen and memorize speaking while comprehending the language.
Lifehack! Our student blog has a lot of interesting and useful articles, such as word memorization techniques.
For university entrance, applicants need to pay attention to terminology. It is important to learn it with the help of appropriate dictionaries or literature. Usually such aids can be found on the website of the specialty in the sections doporučená literatura.
In addition to the study of Czech, the Prague Education Centre offers training programs in specialized terminology, as well as programs of specialized preparation for entrance examinations. The program includes 210 hours of specialized vocabulary in specialized subjects, which allows students to prepare themselves more consciously for admission and future studies.
Immerse yourself in the culture of the country
Want to feel comfortable moving to the Czech Republic! Then you should get to know the magical and beautiful country a little closer. Get further away from the location on the map and the name of the capital city.
This is an important part of preparing for higher education, because as you explore, you can pick the city where you will live and the university. This part can be turned into an entertaining element. The best option to immerse yourself in the culture of the country is to learn a little more about traditional holidays.
The most popular Czech cartoon is Krteček. The mole doesn't say much, but this laughing character who has been able to reach many children around the world with his stories.
If you want something serious and you're more into cinematography, you'll find it quite difficult at first to take in the language only by ear. Thanks to subtitles that make life easier. Start with a Christmas classic: "Three Nuts for Cinderella" (Tři oříšky pro Popelku). By the way, we talk about the selections on our social networks and there we have already touched on the topic of Christmas movies.
And here are some more movies worthy of attention:
- "Tiger Theory";
- "Seven Crows."
For a better understanding of Czech history, listen to the radio or podcasts. On the eve of holidays, hosts often talk about local traditions. By constantly listening to Czech speech, you will find the language easier to understand. Slang, characteristic colloquial phrases are much better understood from youth bloggers. Find Influencers who are close to you and interesting to follow on social networks.
When learning a language, we are always on the lookout for the best learning materials. Here are a few of them:
- "Čestina Expres". The authors are Paula Borilova and Lida Hola;
A three-part self-tutorial for those who want to learn the language quickly but superficially. If you do all the exercises, you can get A1 level quite quickly.
- "Česky krok za krokem". Authors - Paula Borilova and Lida Hola;
An extended version of the previous textbook. Here there are more exercises and explanations. The textbook is accompanied by a workbook. It is best to use "Pohádky", an adapted reading book by the same authors, as a supplement. It is best to start with it after you have mastered the past tense.
Learning Czech through courses
There are a lot of courses, but if we are talking about free ones, here you need to take a smart approach. For example, a LIVE Czech language lesson with a Czech teacher at Prague Education Center!
The lessons are based on interactivity and live communication between student and teacher. The lessons are taught by real Czechs. It's easy to join us, just register on the PEC website. We notify you in advance of the start of the lesson, and if you miss it, you will receive a recording of the lesson.
Ready to gain new knowledge and realize your plans for higher education in the Czech Republic? Then register for a lesson and start preparing this week!
Czech Language Levels
When learning Czech or Slovak you will be interested to know what level you have reached. The Společný evropský referenční rámec is a unified system of language proficiency. So, there are three levels in total - A, B, C. They are divided into sub-levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.
If you have an elementary level of proficiency in a language, you have an "A". A1" means the most basic skills and knowledge of about one and a half thousand words. "A2" is already 2 thousand words.
The "B" level means that you already know Czech independently. At level "B1" you already express your thoughts in all tenses and know about 3 thousand words. Level "B2" is the level at which universities in the Czech Republic or Slovakia become accessible to you. You understand speech, can express your thoughts orally and in writing, and have a good understanding of what is being said to you.
"C1" and "C2" - fluency in Czech. "C1" is most often required by universities with medical specialties. As the locals themselves say, if you can speak "C2", you are most likely a Czech.
How not to give up learning the language?
Before you start looking for textbooks or courses, you should ask yourself the question: "What am I doing this for?". It's best to make a list with clearly structured goals to help you stay motivated.
Divide your goals into milestones, this way you won't miss out on moving forward.
Learning a new language is not that difficult, provided you give it enough time. That's why it's worth sticking to the rule of practicing every day. Even 30 minutes will be enough. Surround yourself with the language you are learning, watch videos, listen to music, read news and stories. Find a native speaker for conversation practice - this can be done for free on language exchange sites.