Help / advice on how to improve reading/writing skills

Discussion in 'General Language' started by rsalc1, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member


    I have been learning Czech on and off for about 5 years.
    (Učím se česky nepravidelně už pět let).
    My goal in learning Czech is to be able to read and write (I live in the US and I only travel to CR occasionally).
    I used mostly Colloquial Czech (with audio tapes), Pimsleur (audio course) and Čeština pro cizince (textbook) to learn the basics.

    I have a good basic understanding of Czech grammar, but I am still struggling with irregular verbs and some declensions.
    Occasionally I read posts in Czech and also articles in Czech websites.
    Unfortunately, I don't have much vocabulary, so reading Czech is usually a struggle for me :(

    I'd like to think that I am pre-intermediate but I have no way of knowing what my true level of proficiency is.

    Any hints/advice for someone like me, who is learning Czech for the fun of it with the goal of improving my reading and writing skills?
    Chtěl bych číst a psát v češtině dobře.

    Děkuji předem,
    Rene - z Floridy
  2. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Czech step by step is a fantastic resource for learning the endings and it has a nice chart of irregular verbs, but maybe it'll be too simple for you now, it's really for complete beginners to pre-int, but i've never seen the grammar better explained.

    And there are lots of opportunities to practice in the work book.. unfortunately they don't have a second volume :(

    If it was a student of English asking me for the same advice I would say I think it's a bad idea to focus on one skill* individually, as they all feed off and help each other.

    So to help you read and write you can watch Czech tv and listen to Czech radio online and this will improve your vocabulary and grammar. Which are key to everything, you might have to neglect speaking though, since you've no one to talk to :(

    *the "skills" are reading writing speaking and listening

    I'm sorry I can't give you more advice but you're more advanced than me anyway

    Edit: New Czech step by step has a second volume now!
  3. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    Key factor is motivation - search regularly objects of your interest in czech language:) it helps with reading a lot (my experience with english)
  4. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks to all for your comments/suggestions.
    Ctyri Koruny, that is a great suggestion! Since I am not planning to speak Czech (I have no one to talk to) I had completely neglected improving my listening skills.
    If I do what you suggest, I may be able to eventually improve my vocabulary.
  5. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    My best aid for vocabulary has been reading the newspapers. I usually read Mladá Fronta Dnes and it tends to use the same level of vocabulary, eventually I get to recognise new words and phrases. There is an on-line version so you could look at that.
  6. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that tip, Polednikova.
    I found the online version of Mladá Fronta Dnes and it seems that it will be quite useful for my current level of comprehension.

    After a while I should be able to "move up" to the online version of idnes and then go back to the tough articles in praha radio online :)
  7. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure about Czech, but I do know that in English being able to read and understand all of an unabridged newspaper like the Times is something for proficiency students. I.E. at least 7 years (but usually more) of study. I'm not saying this to discourage you, it's really good to try and to use it to read about things you might be interested in and to pick up a few pages, but i'm just saying whatever you do don't say "I can't believe I'm still not able to read a newspaper" because the next step up from that is classical literature and academic articles/dissertations!
  8. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Ctyri Koruny,
    Thanks for the warning :)
    I really thought that reading a newspaper in Czech would be fairly easy after a while... and yes, I was getting ready to start saying "I can't believe I still can't read a Czech newspaper".

    I will adjust my expectations accordingly :D
  9. Splog

    Splog Member

    That does sound to be quite a sophisticated level of fluency, and requires a pretty extensive vocabulary. For somebody with a limited vocabulary, it could be pretty intimidating. My own experience is that if more than 10% of the words in an article are new to me, I find reading the article to be too painful to continue.

    The best advice I can give is to always find something just slightly ahead of where you are now, so that you are learning in small bite-sized pieces. Since most Czech newspapers have on-line presence, you can find something that matches your current level.

    I would suggest a better starting point than MFD is Blesk:
  10. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Splog, thanks for the advice. I just looked at blesk. It seems to be a better fit for my low level of comprehension :oops:
    It could be good reading practice for me to eventually move up to MFD and the articles of radio praha that I would love to be able to read :)

Share This Page