How to become fluent in Czech in 3 months

Discussion in 'General Language' started by irishpolyglot, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Ok, I've asked and got clarification. Yes you could learn it as a second language but it wasn't taught in regular school. One had to attend a special language school for which one had to pay. Given the financial state of most living under communism, that wasn't an option for many.
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    @dzurisova - I do not know what you mean by regular school; English was taught in all kinds of high schools, as a second foreign language was a mandatory subject there.
  3. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    @ Jana, that is what my husband said, but he is one generation younger than you I think so maybe things were different in his time.
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Today I was moving my mother’s bookcase and I noticed an old English schoolbook “Angličtina pro devátý postupný ročník” from 1957. It is a textbook for the 9th class. And it was published in the 50’s, that means in the most rigid phase of the communist regime!

    In its preface it nicely explains the regime’s position to the studies of English. So, if you want to practise your Czech…

    On the contrary, it was very inexpensive, often for free. Well, always for free in the regular schools as free education was one of the “communist achievements”. Even the books were for free.
  5. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Nice one - I always wondered how USSR justified english to be first foreign language in their schools.

    Good practise for forum students - try to translate it to english :)
  6. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Actually, the foreign language number one in the Soviet schools was Russian. :wink:
  7. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    OK, I didn't visit many soviet outside-russia schools that days. The only one I visited was in the north of Ukraine, there however russian was tought as mother tongue.
  8. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    HaHa! Very entertaining piece! Tons of propaganda! At the same time, also very enlightening. Thanks, wer!

    Here's my attempt at a loose translation:

  9. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Democracy :) = government of people

    In CZ we used to have "Lidově demokratickou armádu", "Lidově demokratické zřízení"...

    However this Lidově demokratický (demos=lid=people) makes as much sense as LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) display or LED (light emitting diod) diod.

    Democracy is word so nice even North Korea uses it in it's name, as well as East Germany did.

    Zahraniční obchod is not foreign shop (OK, could be, but not in this case), but foreign business, external commerce (macroeconomic term)

    V centru Prahy je mnoho zahraničních obchodů.


    Zahraniční obchod ČR je na vzestupu.
  10. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the correction Alexx--I have corrected the above text accordingly.

    I was aware of the usage of "democracy" and "democratic" in the sense of socialism/communism being presumably a rule by the people. That was my point. What I wasn't sure about was whether or not in the passage above, democratic/republican governments (in the usual sense of majority rule and government by elected representatives, as practiced in the US, England, etc.) would be included in the socialist's definition of "democracy."
  11. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    zahraniční/mezinárodní obchod = foreign/international trade

    In the communist understanding, the democracy is an evolutionary stage before communism. So, communism unlike socialism was not considered democratic. Yes, US and England were considered democratic in the broader sense, but this article refers to new democracies. That means to the states like India or Cuba.

    Western democracies were typically called bourgeois democracies.

  12. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Sovo!!!! That is an impressive translation, well done.
    I surely couldn't have done that.
  13. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    Ještě je potřeba si ujasnit v ktrerém pádu demokracie (vláda lidu) je:
    Koho? Čeho? a nebo Komu? Čemu? ;)
  14. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Pádu demokracie? Pádu Koho/Čeho ;-).
  15. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Great translation!
    I translated the first two paragraphs but then gave up due to lack of time.
  16. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    The translation took me about 25 min., mostly to look up a few words, some of which I understood, but wanted an accurate translation and couldn't think of the most appropriate English word (e.g. načerpat, prastarý, leckdo, upotřebitělnost) and some I didn't know (e.g. hroutící, vytříbit).

    Sometimes, the hardest thing is to put the English translation of the words together to make a smooth-flowing sentence. And of course, as you've all seen, sometimes, one understands the individual Czech words, but still gets the meaning wrong. :?
  17. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    * I understand the comparison with LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): it is not really liquid, but seems to be so. :)

    ** Oh yes, "democracy" is a very nice word to be used even by a totalitarian country like NorKo :D
  18. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    I agree that the article has lots of propaganda!

    Here is my attempt at translating it.
    Please note: my translation is not as fluent as Sova's (I tend to translate word for word and my English at times sounds clumsy).

    Knowledge of the English language will help us better to become acquainted with the cultural heritage of the past, because many significant works of that heritage, scientific and artistic, are written in English.

    The English language will help us get acquainted with two great nations - the English and the American. From the past and from the present of both these great nations, we draw many lessons, which will solidify our socialists convictions. After all, England gave the world the first revolution of the labour movement and it was in that laboratory that Marx and Engels designed their greatest teaching. Today, however, the United States of America and England are the last pillars of the collapsing old social order. Nevertheless, we must not forget, that the English language is above all the language of the English and American people, which also once/one day will take charge of governing their own affairs. (possibly they will overthrow their old social order)

    Russian is becoming more and more the common language of communication among nations where the people govern themselves. But a large part of the world still uses English for intercommunication (purposes) and most of the colonial and half-colonial(?) nations, that are currently fighting for freedom, communicate with one another in English; and there are among them 100 million people with ancient cultures. This medium of intercommunication will continue to be English in the near future, and we will also become acquainted with them(other nations/cultures) by means of English, for the most part.

    In particular, a knowledge of English will give us (confer to us) useful services(???) to allow us to spread the truth about Czechoslovakia to the world and to acquaint the world with our path to socialism.

    And the study of English, like the study of other foreign languages, gives us something more. Through a comparison of two markedly different languages, we will understand more deeply our own mother tongue and refine the feeling for our language (this sounds very clumsy in English).
    Many of us become acquainted with English in our own occupations. For some it suffices to learn to read the literature of their own field (in English), others, i.e. workers in foreign commerce/trade, must master both spoken and written English very well.

    There are enough reasons for the study of the English language. Some people approach it as personal interests - literary, technical, etc. This will widen for them the applicability of this language. Let us learn, therefore, English not only for school. Let us seek to master to degrees of real applicability, which knowledge of English gives to us, so that we may fully use these great opportunities in the building of our socialist state.
  19. irishpolyglot

    irishpolyglot Member

    Sorry to bring this post back to life when it had (clearly) taken on a life of its own lol
    Anyway, just thought you may want to know that my experiment has ended! After two months I had reached a "pretty good" level of Czech and was able to converse with locals without ever relying on English; not just basic conversations, but talking about my travels, hearing about their lives and even basic philosophical discussions. I went out on dates with a lot of Czech girls and flirted a lot in Czech - it was great motivation to keep on learning :p
    You can hear what my accent sounded like on a video I put up on my blog.
    Sadly after those two months, external factors came to play and I had to focus all of my time on getting out of debt. Fortunately I have been successful (by working 12 hour days, 7 days a week for over a month), but I had to sacrifice the last month of the experiment just when it was looking possible to reach actual fluency within my 3 month deadline. I hope nobody considers this a cop-out...
    Anyway for those interested, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on my summary of encouragement for future Czech learners by trying to motivate them with reasons why it is NOT a hard language. I found constant reminders of its difficulty from others a horrible motivation to study, but luckily I'm immune to such negativity :p I hope to infect others with such optimism in this closing post on the Czech language that I wrote.

    It's been a great summer in Prague, but I have a whole new 3-month language experiment waiting for me at the other side of the world! Thanks for your interesting comments here and on my blog everyone :)
  20. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Well of course Czech is quite simple if you have such a large linguistic background and have the opportunity to practice it with such an intensity :wink: If you learn a few indo-european languages, it becomes easier and easier to learn others because the structures do not vary so much (in fact if you have learnt latin, you had quite a good foundation to build on). Even sanskrit is quite an easy language, if you know latin, a little bit of ancient greek, one slavic language and perhaps english. It's only a matter of practice then (I would personally love some Czech-Sanskrit language exchange but... well...not so easy to find one :shock: ).

    But still, good job!

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