How to become fluent in Czech in 3 months

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irishpolyglot
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How to become fluent in Czech in 3 months

Postby irishpolyglot » 13-Jun-09 18:38

Ahoj!!
I know, I know - Czech is really hard etc. etc.
But I've been studying languages for quite a while now (I can speak 7 fluently) and I've decided to learn Czech in just 3 months! Starting this week!! :D I'm documenting my progress and giving general language learning tips that I've picked up from previous language learning attempts. You can follow my story and see if I reach my goal by the first week of September here:
http://www.fluentin3months.com

Since I know no Czech (my first real studies start this weekend and I've just arrived in Prague), your advice (especially from people who have also studied other languages) and comments would be hugely appreciated!!
Apart from generally getting used to learning languages, I've already gotten a head-start in some ways (in Irish Gaelic that I learned from my youth we also have the genitive and even the vocative cases among other similarities, and the entire phonetic system is almost exactly the same as Esperanto)

Am I crazy? Is it possible? :) I'm working full time (translations from home) and I have no intention of taking any courses, so this will be a part-time casual thing. The main reason I'm in Prague is to see if I can do it!
Advice appreciated :)
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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 13-Jun-09 19:41

Well... what can I say?
You already learned several languages and are fluent in 7.
I am sure you know what it takes to learn a language!

Languages are my hobby: I have learned about 12 over the years but I am only fluent in 1 besides English (Spanish) and semi-fluent in 2 (French and Esperanto), and just know enough to get by in most of the others that I learned.

The language that I learned the quickest was Greek. I spent 3 months listening daily to an online Greek course in preparation for a vacation in Athens.
When I arrived in Greece I knew enough to get by and understand a bit, but definitely not fluent.

I don't know if anyone can become fluent in 3 months.
I am eager to watch the result of your experiment.

If you have learned the secret to become fluent in Italian and Portuguese, please share it with us! I know enough Italian and Portuguese to understand and be understood, but I have not yet become fluent. :) 8)

Of course, my definition of fluent is very strict :twisted:
Pravý přítel přijde když všichni odejdou.
irishpolyglot
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Postby irishpolyglot » 13-Jun-09 19:57

rsalc1 wrote:Of course, my definition of fluent is very strict :twisted:

Ah, well THERE's your problem :P
My definition of fluent is akin to the C2 standard in most European exams in language levels. I've passed this in French (DALF) and Spanish (DELE) so I've got a pretty good idea! It's NOT perfect (I would personally call that "bilingual", where a native would be surprised that you are foreign for example) and such perfection does indeed take years.
After 3 months I plan to be speaking "fluently" in the sense of flowing language, no ums and uhs, making very few mistakes (maybe 1 every 20 or so seconds of consistent talking), being very easy to understand (no strong accent) and understand most of what is said to me. Someone who doesn't speak Czech will easily think that I speak it perfectly, whereas those who do will recognise it as "very good".
It's a very specific goal, and something a lot of people may benefit from considering the amount of expats who still just "get by" (maybe level B1 at best) despite living in a country for a long time.
It is indeed as you put it an "experiment" :) Maybe I'll reach my goal, maybe not. But I definitely plan on helping people with some general language learning tips along the way.
Wish me luck :D
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dzurisova
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Postby dzurisova » 13-Jun-09 22:10

So will you be living there the entire time? Also, will you be using self-teaching books or just going by what you experience living in the country. Since you have learned other languages and have the advantage that you spoke of and if you are living there and using self-teaching books, I think it may just be an obtainable goal! Best wishes to you! :D
Bůh ti žehnej
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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 13-Jun-09 22:17

dzurisova wrote:So will you be living there the entire time? Also, will you be using self-teaching books or just going by what you experience living in the country. Since you have learned other languages and have the advantage that you spoke of and if you are living there and using self-teaching books, I think it may just be an obtainable goal! Best wishes to you! :D

I agree that if you will be living there, you may attain your goal!
In my case, I have learned languages "long distance"... I learned at home (in the US), self-taught. I have good ear for pronunciation, so that is not a problem.
Then I visit the target country and practice the language during a short vacation.

Goals attained:
- back home, people who don't speak the language tell me that I sound just like a Czech, or an Italian, or a Greek, or whatever :)
- local people tell me that I have no strong foreign accent and pronunciation and grammar are good

However, I lack vocabulary, so I use many umms and uhhhs :(
Also, if I watch TV in the target language, I understand very little.

In your fluency definition, where do you rate "understading a TV show well" :)
Pravý přítel přijde když všichni odejdou.
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Postby scrimshaw » 14-Jun-09 0:01

Well, Irishpolyglot, I really commend you for setting such a lofty goal for yourself.
You have set the bar very high.
I am most interested in how your experiment turns out.
Already having proved that you can learn other languages, I am betting on you.
Go for it, and show that it can be done.
I will follow your link, and keep us myczech people posted!!!!!
Starting from scratch, and becoming fluent in three months. That will surely be some kind of record. :D
Good luck.
Jsem zvědav, jak by to vypadalo, kdybych byl přivolávačem deště. Jak by to vypadalo, kdybych uměl přivolat déšt'?
Mám pocit ale, že se to bohužel nikdy nedozvím.
irishpolyglot
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Postby irishpolyglot » 14-Jun-09 0:55

Thanks for the encouragement everyone!!! :)
I will indeed be living in Prague the entire time. I will use some self teaching books for the first week or two (no CD audio courses; I don't like them) and then (as you'll see on the blog) I will immediately stop speaking English and do absolutely everything through Czech no matter how badly I may speak. And I have ways of convincing locals not to veer back to English with me ;) ;) All of which will be revealed!
Most of what I'll be learning will be from studying the vocabulary in my phrase-book's dictionary while waiting for trams etc. and actually conversing with locals and (here's a big motivation) chatting up these gorgeous Czech girls :P
Also, I am spreading my blog so that many people read it and more people know about my idea. In just a week and a half I have about 130 subscribers already, and I'm sure I'll get more. That is a LOT of pressure to produce! If I can't speak fluently after 3 months then I'll be famous for being arrogant and spreading lies; imagine the embarrassment! I like that pressure looming over me; it's great motivation :D So make sure to tell any language-interested friends (not just Czech, since I'll be talking about a lot of languages) about my site. The more people that follow me the more motivation I have to reach my goal (for fear of being a laughing stock on the Internet!) More on "motivation" on the blog later ;)
All advice along the way appreciated! :)
Thanks!!
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Alexx
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Postby Alexx » 14-Jun-09 17:30

irishpolyglot wrote:After 3 months I plan to be speaking "fluently" in the sense of flowing language, no ums and uhs, making very few mistakes (maybe 1 every 20 or so seconds of consistent talking), being very easy to understand (no strong accent) and understand most of what is said to me. Someone who doesn't speak Czech will easily think that I speak it perfectly, whereas those who do will recognise it as "very good".


OK, honestly, I am into languages as well, but I bet reaching this goal in three months is posible ONLY if you are already fluent in some other slavic language (russian, polish, serbian) with similar grammar and vocabulary. I know that more languages you know, easier the way to learning one another is, however... Still, I wish you good luck and would like to meet you and talk with you after three monts (in fluent czech) to judge if or if not you managed to reach the goal.
I cesta může být cíl.
The journey is the goal.
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Ctyri koruny
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Postby Ctyri koruny » 14-Jun-09 19:46

Huzzah another Irish person! How many is that in a year? 5?

irishpolyglot wrote: Czech no matter how badly I may speak. And I have ways of convincing locals not to veer back to English with me ;) ;) All of which will be revealed!


I should do that. I'm very lazy because everybody I know speaks English, I have to speak English at work because it's my job, and with the exception of my friend and Czech teacher everyone else around me every day is pretty discouraging.

I agree with Alexx that Czech is not a language you can learn fluently in 3 months, maybe 2 years of intense study and using it every day. I'm aiming for C2 in three years, but I'm aiming for the sun so I'll land in the stars if you understand me.
But you didn't tell us what the other languages you speak are, maybe Slovak? Are you like that fella on the television who got to intermediate Icelandic (i think it was) in a week because of some fancy memory technique he wouldn't share with the viewers?

If I am around if you guys are meeting in three months I'd like to come, it would do me good to be around two fluent speakers. ;)
Honestly, you know I am of course expecting and hoping you fail, because I know I can't do it in three months, if you can do it then it won't be exactly encouraging for me.

I think Irish will help you a little, as it has helped me especially with verb conjugation.. but not with cases... Irish cases are easy, although almost every letter has it's own declension every case declines in pretty much the same way, and you can be understood and understand fine without using them, in Czech they are essential for understanding at higher levels.
Also we learned Irish cases as children and are now trying to learn Czech cases as adults. There's a difference!


Anyway despite the negativity I wish you good luck!
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Alexx
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Postby Alexx » 18-Jun-09 22:58

I just realized those 7 languages you speak fluently are:

Irish and English (say both are native)

Spanish,
Portugese,
Italian,
French - all romance, hence similar grammar and vocabulary

Esperanto - language with easy grammar and vocabulary of romanic languages you already know.

I do not want to derogate your current knowledge, I by myself would be very happy knowing those 5 (En, Sp, Port, It, Fr) languages, just think switching to another language group then romance is a big step, any other slavic language after czech (russian recomended) will be easier for you again.
I cesta může být cíl.

The journey is the goal.

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