questions regarding learning czech language

Discussion in 'General Language' started by shreypete, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    wassup guys, i just wanted some advice and tips regarding learning the czech language as i will be stayin there for the next 6 yrs. (med school)...i had some questions regarding the language:

    1) How hard is the language in comparison with the other european languages?

    2) Is the grammar really hard to lear?

    3) How long would it take for a foreigner to learn the langauge (considering that i'm fluent in spanish and know a bit of german, dutch, italian, french, and swedish ---not that it matters bt i was wondering this language background would help me learn the language...u know loan-words n stuff?)

    4) Do the czech universities offer good czech language courses for foereigners?

    Thank a lot guyz...
  2. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Well, that generally depends on your innate linguistic skills, your native language (believe me that an English speaker would find more difficulties than an Islandese speaker or even Polish speaker...) and your linguistic experience.

    1) Considered one of the hardest together with other slavic languages - highly inflexive (function of words in a sentence is not determined so much by their position nor by prepositions or things but rather by diverse endings). Well... there are foreigners that became fluent in Czech but there is almost always a strong accent (at least) but many do not manage that. But I can assure you that the Czech people are kind of fond of the difficulty of their language and will always appreciate someone learning it (not like the French that often do not consider you to be a human being if you do not speak fluent French:)).

    2) Depends on your language skills. Generally, the basic grammar is not (IMHO) more difficult than the basic grammar of latin (very good source of linguistic experience - the systems are quite similar, cases, conjugations,...). Advanced grammar is extremely complicated and almost impossible to fully master.

    3) Yes! That matters quite a lot. I cannot imagine how long it could take. Depends on your determination... The basic part is the pronunciation with which you should have no problems. Many English speakers tend to infer their habits of pronouncing written texts and I think it must deform all the system.
    Vocabulary can be a little bit difficult. There are many loanwords from latin and such, but generally, it is almost impossible to speak using only them and it sounds strange
  3. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey Eleshar thanks a lot on your helped a lot...
  4. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Good, but probably some old wolves learning the language already should express themselves as well.
  5. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    ya i guess that would be even more helpful ...btw are you czech or are you learning the language yourself?
  6. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    :D Hi shreypete !

    Eleshar is a Czech and learned Czech by himself. He speak Czech pretty well b'cause he has a lot of good chances to speak Czech to native Czechs ...So, he couldn't speak Czech as a foreigner even as he want to do it !

    Just kidding ! :D

    I can see you've got a lot experiences with learning other languages. Czech is a difficult language but if you start to learn it, you will love it. It's a really nice language !

    You will get it soon, I bet !

    "Vlk zmrzl, zhltl čtvrthrst zrn."
    Doman je doma !
  7. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey doman...i'm assuming your not a czech (unless you have czech origin, i dnt knw) how did you find the czech language? i mean i know its hard but how long did you take to master it ?(or even get by with a decent conversation)....
  8. zbarnes

    zbarnes New Member

    hey man. i've lived here for 2 years now in Czech Republic and in my case, my job doesn't permit me to learn czech seeing that I teach English but if you really want to learn, then you shouldn't have a problem. Having the knowledge of another language will help you a lot just to understand structure and all, although czech structure is completely different from any latin-based language. And the thing is, is that it's a lot harder to learn than spanish.

    But, all said and done, if you apply yourself, it's really not as difficult as the czechs say. Yea... of course it's difficult, but there's a system and a structure to it that seems to have been put together quite perfectly. It's really beautiful and fun for me to learn. I think that the universities in Prague have good courses for Czech for Foreigners, so if you really want it, it won't be hard, and there are a few good books out there for learning Czech... two that I know of personally. But... the problem is that you may not have that much free time considering you're doin med school, so... it really just depends on you. I have friends that have also lived in Prague for 3 years or more and their czech is very menial and quite pathetic, cuz in the city, you really don't need to learn it at all. Good luck man, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    If you try hard, I think that within a year you could understand a bit and have conversations a bit. After 2 years you should have a decent feel of the language... again, just depends how much you study. Get a czech girlfriend. That'll help you a lot more.
  9. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    I'm a foreigner to Czechs ofcourse because I am a Vietnamese and I learnt Czech by accident. :D , I hve learnt it in 8 months in a Learning Czech linguist center (Jazykove stredisko), everyday 6 hours with Czech profesors and two hours by myself...I must say, that time was horrible :lol: but after that, I was being quite comfortable with Czech friends. They understood what I've said and to the contrary. I don't know how long a man can take to master a foreign language but in my opinion, with about six months learning hard, you will get a good result.

    Zbranes, I'm completely agreed with you ! :D
    I used to live a long time in Slaný, a very closed city to Kralupy.
  10. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey zbarnes and doman thnks once again....

    i would definitely work hard if i had that option bt med school (especially 1st 3 yrs. r a nightmre from what i've heard)....i'll will try my best....

    are there any books/cds/tapes that you'd recommend for learning basic czech? and i aslo have czech as 1 of my 1st yr subjects which will be in the Charles Faculty of i guess i'll only be takin a private class (once or twice every month).......
  11. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Errr... Well, I forgot one little issue - the pronunciation which is quite... well... not trivial. The Czech is said to be pronounced as it is written, it is not absolutely true but generally, there should not be any greater problem with this, if you see an inscription, you will know how it is pronounced, if you hear a word you will know how approximately it could be written down.

    The problem is the pronunciation per se - the Czech is quite rich on consonantic clusters. In addition, it preserved old indoeuropean syllabic R and L (and M, but only in two words; maybe N, but it occurs only in inapropriate pronunciation of the words with syllabic M...:)). Those syllabic R and L can be in the function of a vowel. Though it is not very usual, there can be constructed a sentence completely without any vowels (and definitely there are many words without any vowel). Extreme example of this is Doman's subscription which I reproduce here:

    "Vlk zmrzl. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn"
    (The wolf has frozen. He devoured a quarter of a handful of seed)
    Not that such a sentence is not very difficult to pronounce for a good Czech speaker, it is! But it is not impossible and with a little effort any Czech speaker can pronounce it (well, almost). But concerning the foreigners... well... um... not really. Or rather... not at all :roll:
    As I said, it is an extreme example of this feature but there are many casual single words not containing any vowel that are in ordinary usage (vlk - wolf, krk - neck, zmrzl - he froze, hrst - handful,......).
  12. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Are you saying that you are forbidden to learn Czech, or just that you have little chance to learn?

    Shreypete, there have been several other threads on this topic. A search on the terms "fluent" and "fluency" brings up a number of them, although you may need to sift through to find the ones you want. Here are two such threads that I found:

    realistic time to reach level of "fluency"??
  13. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    wow eleshar...i assume that the czech take great pride in their complicated language....i mean with the string of consonants (without vowels at all!!!)....

    hey sova, thanks for posting the two threads....i checked them out and it was quite useful info...and i think what zbarnes means is that he hardly has the time as well as the chance he's english, even he did speak czech, he would have to be really persistent so that the czech themselves won't speak in english (as they probably aslo want to shape up their english skills)...
  14. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey sova...i'll be stayin for 6 yrs in czech doing my medical course (+ another 3 if i'm going to continue my Ph.D there) do you think that this time span will be enough to be fluent if I made a decent effort learning the language (as med school's no joke)....

    and by fluency i mean being able to carry on a decent conversation in several fields (the medical field is excluded as the univ. seperately deals with it)....and i'll also be having Czech classes for the 1st 3 yrs @ Charles Univ.
  15. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Six years is enough but still it depends on your linguistic capacities and previous experience with other languages (extremely helpful sometimes).
  16. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Certainly, it will take dedication and hard work on your part. I felt that I was fairly competent in the language with a pretty good grasp of the most-used grammatical rules after about a year (Czech was my third foreign language after Spanish and Russian). Of course, there was always (and still are) topics of discussion (or finer points of grammar) which would arise, where I had no vocabulary or didn't understand the constructs, and as such did not follow the topics well. By the end of two years, however, I could converse on a fairly broad range of topics. In six years, assuming you're not eating and sleeping medicine, you should be able to do fairly well, again depending on your aptitude for languages and your dedication to studying Czech.

    By the way, the Ph.D./M.D. program (in general, not just at Charles) can be quite grueling. I know a few people who who have done it, and having gone through a Ph.D. myself, have some idea of the difficulty. What field are you considering for the Ph.D.?
  17. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    well surgery hopefully...and if that doesnt click then either cardiology or neurology...

    abt the languge experience, si yo hablo espanol tambien....apprendé espanol por 9 anos y vivió en espana por 6 meses.... i also understand basic conversational russian (written and spoken). I can speak also german (my aunts from munich), Hindi, Kanuri (portuguese-goan), portuguese, a bit of swedish and dutch ( i can understand it quite well actually), and also written farsi (arabic)...furthermore i can understand conversational french, and italian (basic level ofcourse)....
  18. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    That seems promising, but what do you have in mind when you say "I can speak". Moreover, farsi is not arabic :wink:
  19. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey elseshar...yes i'm aware there they are not the same but the script is very much similar...its like if you learn one script the other is very easy to read(with subtle differences)...well when i say "i speak" i mean i can converse with someone in certain for spanish i've become fluent enough that i can actually opt to study my med in Spain. With german, i've taken the AP German exam in the US which tests students on spoken, reading and writing skills and i obtained a 4/5 which entitles me to study certain courses in germany in the german language....

    as for kanuri (portuguese-indian), hindi, i'm quite fluent as i grew up speaking these languages....

    and regarding the little bit of swedish, frech, italian, dutch, and russian - well i lived in UK for 5 yrs. when i was really young as i took several languages then...main ones were swedish, dutch, french and italian...i only know the basic conversaitonal level for these languages....not fluent enough to debate or discuss in several topics...(for eg. i can understand some of the movies in these languages pretty well)...

    as for russian, i took it for 2 yrs in America and have also visited russia a lot of times...and the russians acutally thought i was born there!! (not because of the content of the language but because i spoke it with a close to the perfect native accent)..... :)
  20. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    So you mean you can read Persian scripture, not understand the Persian language? Of course the scripture is almost the same as Arabic, but the language (Persian is indo-european - thus related to Czech, English and others) is not very similar to Arabic (semito-hamitic language - related to Hebrew and some ancient languages , e.g.: Egyptian, Babylonian, Aramaic,...).

    Otherwise it seems you should have no problems learning Czech (if know the Russian grammar, the Czech is very similar (although Russian tends to be more regular in some parts). So train namely the pronunciation:
    Vlk zmrzl. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn.
    Vlk zmrzl. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn.
    And again.
    Vlk zmrzl. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn.
    You can do better!
    Vlk zmrzl. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn.
    Once more!
    :lol: :lol: :lol:

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