learning Czech and Czech-English dictionary

Discussion in 'General Language' started by Rosebud, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. Rosebud

    Rosebud Member

    Has anyone used the cd and book "Teach yourself Czech" by David Short?
    Any comments, good or bad? Also, I am looking for a good Czech-English
    dictionary, preferably one published within the last few years. Any comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    I have the book and CD - it seemed daunting when I first tried to use it but now, after learning from other, simpler sources, it doesn't seem so bad.
  3. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I would say whatever you do do not buy it.

    It does too much too quickly, and doesn't teach any useful vocabulary whatsoever. I quite like it now that I've been studying a year and it has some amusing dialogs, but it is not the best option for a beginner by any means.

    Get Colloquial Czech by James Naughton, grammar is well explained, phrases and words you might actually want to use at some point are taught.

    Compare: The weather is nice isn't it? I would like 6 rolls please.
    Why do you have rocks in your bag? You're here for a geology conference? The mudflaps on my truck have been damaged!!!
  4. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

  5. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member


    Ve vlaku jsem potkal úderníka, který plní plán na 540 procent. (Ruština - světový jazyk obchodu a míru, 1952).
  6. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I believe you could classify me as a collector of learning czech resources. I have several different resources. Deep down I must think that just buying them will magically teach me to speak it. Anyway, I really don't like Short's "Teach yourself Czech". My favorite so far is Czech in 3 Months. I haven't really learned it in 3 months but the guideline is to spend 1 hour a day on it which I spend maybe 2 hours a week.

    As far a pocket book as a useful resource, I like Lonely Planet Czech Phrasebook with 2 way dictionary.
  7. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    I agree! TY Czech is not very practical.
    Colloquial Czech has many useful dialogs, but the grammar sections are sketchy at best, so you will need to find a better grammar.
  8. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Hee hee I have the same problem! But I do think learning the same thing from a few different sources really helps.

    So far I have

    Coloqual Czech (best if you have no help)
    Teach Yourself Czech
    Communicative Czech ( I think I understand things less after I read the explanations of them in this book)
    Czech Step by Step (best)
    Do you want to speak Czech?
    Basic Czech Two (good place for practicing grammar and some very nice dialogs and idoms and phrases (with the worst actors ever reading them on the CD) )

    CD ROM : Eurotalk Intermediate - Intermediate HA it's too easy, I wish I'd bought it 6 months ago.

    2 dictionaries (both terrible, many many mistakes, no explanation as to the differences between the alternative words given)
    and a phrasebook (also terrible, for example : "Jsem teplo" I think it was written by a guy without a word of Czech just sitting with a dictionary, there are so many mistakes and so much nonsense in it.

    I also have The Little Prince and a bunch of other children's books in Czech as well as Brida by Paulo Cohel. (I've only managed the first chapter so far)

    And I spend maybe 20 hours studying most weeks... but I've a brain like a sieve.

    I came here with 3 books, and the last time I counted I have 20.. it's a real compulsion! I don't know how I'll get them home on the plane!
  9. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    These are the books/courses that I have used to learn Czech:

    Teach Yourself Czech (an old version by WR and Z Lee) : good intro to the Czech language
    Pimsleur Czech (this is strictly an audio course on CD)
    Colloquial Czech (book and audio)
    Čeština pro cizince (book)

    I have the CZ>EN, EN>CZ dictionary by Poldauf. It's supposed to be good, but I hardly ever use it.
    I prefer the online dictionaries at:
    slovnik.cz and slovnik.seznam.cz

    For a quick grammar reference I use:

    For a good overview of Czech grammar try:

    If you are just starting to learn Czech, perhaps you should try the free download at byki.com: it has a set of flash cards and includes audio, so you learn how to pronounce the words as you learn new vocabulary.
  10. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    you're right. I think byki.com is great for starters. Especially if you aren't around spoken Czech much.
  11. Rosebud

    Rosebud Member

    Thank you to everyone who responded with their comments and experiences about language books. This gives me a good list to get started with. I just
    downloaded byki, which is awesome since it has sound. I am a beginner, so hopefully I will not get discouraged as I hear Czech can be a hard language to learn.
  12. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I think as a beginner it's harder, because the grammar is so different for people with Germanic or Romantic languages as L1s, and a lot of the time that in any other language would be spent on vocabulary in Czech is spent on grammar.. and without knowing the cases (endings) very well it's often difficult to tell which is the subject and which is the object of a sentence, which can make understanding difficult.

    E.g. (orange = object, sam = subject)
    Sam ate oranges
    Oranges ate Sam
    ate Sam oranges
    Sam oranges ate

    But at higher levels I think all languages are equally difficult, and Czech has the advantage of having less words than English hee hee :)

    And don't give up and don't get discouraged ( every time i get around one grammar corner I realize there's something else more complicated than I ever imagined) just keep going, learn one little bit at a time.
  13. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I struggle with this also. My goal is not to be so fluent that I could write an essay paper. I simply want to understand and talk with my Czech friends and family in Czech. Therefore I struggle in what is the best way to spend my limited time learning. Lately, I 've had the feeling that if I focused on vocab, I could understand them easier and perhaps the grammar would come along as my spoken Czech improves - just as it would come along with a young child learning to talk. I would think young Czech children learn the same as young English children - learning the vocab and the grammar comes in while learning to speak. They later learn all the little grammar details when learning how to read and write.
  14. Rosebud

    Rosebud Member

    I have read good feedback about the New Czech Step by Step, however,
    in some posts, members have said that book is really to be used only if
    you have a tutor. Has anybody used it without the aid of a tutor? I am
    a little unsure if I should get it because I have no help and am not around
    spoken Czech.
  15. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Well I've been doing it with a teacher, but together we are only on chapter 8 and on my own I've finished the book..While of course in an ideal situation you'd have a teacher, I think it is more than possible to use it on your own, and if you have any questions I'm sure the nice folks on the internet will help you. :) And with the writing exercises too.

    It's defiantly the most enjoyable of the books as well as making the grammar nice and clear (and manageable!)
    the local lingo site can help you with the pronunciation and alphabet stuff that's missing from the book :)

    A lot of my English students get disheartened by grammar and say this same theory to me.
    I think everyone learns differently but in my opinion this just doesn't work.

    1. Children don't have any L1 interference (L1 = first language. I.e. they are learning.. that thing over there is a door... not door = dveře)
    2. Children are surrounded by the language every hour of day
    3. Children don't say anything for the first year or two or three or even four of their lives.
    4. Children have better memories (soft like clay!) which are designed for learning new things, and are focused on learning just a few things.. walk.. talk... that thing there is my foot. While adults have terrible memories, which can't learn things in the same way, not to mention we are always thinking about work and responsibilities and everything else.

    I used to believe it was impossible to study grammar, so I didn't try. And that is the reason why after "studying" German for six years in school my Czech was better after just 6 months.

    Yes vocabulary is important for understanding, but we will never be able to speak or understand at a higher level without a grasp of the grammar. I've had so many students tell me so many different reasons why they can't learn English "I'm old... I'm just not the language type... You can't learn it unless you're living in the country... I just need to speak and speak and speak (with you correcting my every mistake and with me not understanding your corrections) and then somehow I'll magically learn it..."
    And I tell you that out of the 100 students I know (I've only been teaching a year) the only difference between the people who are at beginner and pre int (A1/A2) level for 10 years and the people who are at CAE/Advanced (C2/C1) after 5 - 7 years is the amount of work they put in. Speaking / Listening / Reading / Writing
    Pronunciation / Grammar / Vocabulary / Spelling (important in Czech but not in English, because in Czech misspelling = mispronunciation)
    All important.

    You might be able to understand a lot just learning vocabulary. But you won't be able to put a sentence together and when you try you will just be speaking English with Czech words and no one will understand what you're trying to say.
    There's also the problem that if you wait too long to learn the grammar you'll develop what we call "errors" which are different from mistakes, these are mistakes you have made so many times that you have learned them and they are very very very difficult to correct, you will just keep making them and making them.

    Those are just my ideas (and some ideas I've read in books about linguistics) though. I mean like I said I've only been studying Czech since last August and I've only been teaching since maybe last September. I think you can take what I say with a pinch of salt hee hee, like I said I think everyone learns in different ways, it's just that my experience has lead me to feeling as I explained.
  16. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Hi Čtyři koruny, great post!

    I will only focus on 3 things you wrote (all other text has been snipped).

    I have been learning Czech sporadically for about 5 years. I have a good grasp of grammar. What I am lacking is vocabulary and comprehension of entire sentences.
    Do you think that New Czech Step by Step will be useful for someone in my situation (I am completely self-taught... no Czech teachers where I live).

    That is very true. :!: 8)

    I keep hearing about all these "levels".
    Is there a rule of thumb to find out, without taking a test, what proficiency level a person has in a given language?
  17. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    There is a table for it there, you should be able to figure out what level you are somewhat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Eur ... r_Language

    Sometimes your passive and your active knowledge can be miles appart.. which can throw it off

    I think Czech by Step will be too easy for you if you already have a grasp of the grammar. It's really A1 - A2

    But you could try the new one.. confusingly it has the same name only in Czech.. Krok za krokem . It says it's A2 - B1
    Might be tough without a teacher as unlike the first one all the explanations are in Czech.

    I haven't tried it yet so I can't really comment on it too much. It's pretty new so I don't know how easy it will be to get over in the states!

  18. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link to wikipedia.

    Explanations in Czech? No problem (said he while pretending to smile) :)
    Really, Čeština pro cizince has all explanations in Czech, so I am used to this type of ... torture :wink: (Grammar terminology in Czech is tough).
  19. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

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