need to prove to my Husband I can learn Czech

Discussion in 'Language Exchange & Czech Classes' started by northover, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. northover

    northover New Member

    I have been married for over 8 years with my Czech husband and currently reside in Tampa Bay area. I just recently had a debate with his friends in regards to foreign women who marry Czech men who don't take the initiative to learn the language, hence why it is better to stick with Czech women. :roll: My husband probably has the same feeling since he has made comments in the past about my ability (inability) to pick up the language. He has stated in the past that the English language is a simpleminded language and easier to learn than Czech. Of course I quickly reminded him and his friends that it would be easier to learn any language if you are immersed in it. So I challenged him, that i could learn the language and that I'm not quite so dumb. Now here's the tricky part: How the hell can I learn this language if I am not as immersed in it as i wish? Is there someone out there in Tampa or St Petersburg who can help me.? My ultimate goal is to master saying "333" that definitely is a tongue twister. :?
  2. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    :D Ok, forget about mastering 333. Does your husband ever ask you to run to Valmart or make him a sandvich? You don't have to master it, you just have to learn how to call him blbec and vole when appropriate. :wink:

    More fun, you can tell him "viš h*vno, naučim se česky!" (just be sure to smile and blow a kiss after you say that 8) )

    Then ask his friends if they know a tutor. I think that's the best way to start in the beginning. If not, you will have to struggle on your own. Ask scrimshaw about this, he's done a great job at it.

    Then dive in. Order books - and when he complains about the cost, tell him he's the blbec that offered you the challenge. :wink: Be sure to order books with CD's. There are many posts on here stating the best materials out there for beginners. Then dive into internet learning materials. There are plenty of posts on here that state the best ones on the internet as well. First off, take a look at - the older blog entries have some great suggestions for learning a new language.

    Finally, be patient. Without being fully immersed into the language, it will come very slowly. I find that I have times when I'm focused and make great strides, then I go 3 months without doing a thing regarding learning the language. I've been learning for 3 years now and I've just reached the point where I can sit at our parties and follow much of the conversation and also speak to them in Czech. However, we only get together with Czech people probably around once a month so that's not much opportunity for me. Use your czech as much as possible. If you are texting your husband, text it using the Czech words you know. And don't worry about mistakes. Trust me, I find American Czechs are more pleased that you are trying to learn the language than caring about the mistakes you make.

    Another great site, that I find fun and useful is Its like facebook only for learning a new language. One hint though - only accept Czech friends that way you don't waste time on there.

    Have Fun! I look forward to hearing that you've proven your husband wrong! :)
  3. Petronela

    Petronela Well-Known Member

    You got some awesome pointers above.

    Only thing I would like to add which you may or may not be interested in as far as immersing yourself into language.

    You can watch Czech TV on the internet. CT1 and Nova have very nice websites and also there are Czech radio stations you can listen to on the net.
    I’m not saying you will understand it all but if you let it run as a “background noise” while lets say doing house chores or whatnot you will get used to listening the language and it may help you pick it up faster.

    And if he really gets on your last nerve you can tell him: “trhni si nohou vole” ok just kidding on that part, don’t say that lol.
  4. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Girls, I wish my husband would like to learn Czech here too! At least a little bit. But he will not ... he always tells me why should he speak Czech if this language is spoken only in one country :cry:.
    It makes me feel very sad because I speak English ... I would welcome at least minor effort (any effort) from him.
  5. northover

    northover New Member

    The catylyst for me was that I was tired of being left out! left out of the conversation, left out of the events, gatherings, etc... Of course my husband underestimated me and my desire to explore new and interesting things, even if I don't speak the language. He challenged me and i'm always up for some good competition.

    Challenged your husband. Make a bet!!! Check his ego, if he is American, I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge. Americans always think they are the best at everything. nothing like taking a swipe at his American manly sensibilities.
    I'm Black British by the way.
  6. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Language immersion is overrated. Whether you're here or not the best way to learn is through study!
    But in as many different ways as possible, reading, writing (you can get the nice people here to correct your mistakes :) ) listening, speaking (you can practice on your husband!) even if you think you won't need writing, it will help your speaking because you have to produce the language the same way as with speaking, but you'll have plenty of time to stop and think and correct your mistakes, unlike with speaking.
    start by finding out the words for common things around the house and making little signs and sticking them to them, then repeat them to yourself, then when you've learned all those words write little phrases to do with all those words and ad them (I use different colored paper for each case, it really helps me learn endings) then when you feel you know the word don't remove the paper but turn it over and stick it down wrong way up, then every time you see the blank piece of paper try to remember the word / phrase. If you just take the paper away there will be nothing to remind you to practice your czech!

    Good books to start are Colloquial Czech by James Naughton and Czech Step by Step by Lida Hola.

    byki is a good flashcard website for basic vocab.. and whats it called.. moca or something.. there's a link to it here somewhere

    Dannae I think that the attitude of your husband is the most common attitude! It's so ignorant, you should smack him!
    Language is so much a part of who we are, if you want to understand a culture it's the first place you should turn, Queen Elisabeth realized this and did everything she could to destroy the Irish language, and it worked to a great extent, you can't differentiate Irish people from Americans and English and even far away Australians now, same tv, same books, same music, same philosophy, same fashion, same sport, same thoughts.
    Language isn't everything, but it's a lot! One of my students said that she feels like she's a different person when she speaks English, this seems very true to me.
    I think if you love someone, you should always try to learn their language. (Unless of course.. their language is football!)
  7. jpkrohling

    jpkrohling Member

    One more tip: . You can learn how to "listen", read, write and speak Czech there. Just don't forget to help others in learning English ;-)
  8. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Katka, you crack me up! Thanks for the laugh!

    Yes, it's much easier for a Czech to learn English, than an English speaker to learn Czech--a lot of it is due to exposure and resource availability. How many good books, videos, tapes, courses are there out there to learn Czech from English? And now how many are there to learn English from Czech? It's definitely a lopsided equation, and that's not even including opportunities for conversation with native speakers.

    Language immersion may be overemphasized (I wouldn't say "overrated")--after all, of course, one needs to learn textbook grammar/vocabulary--but proper usage in a fluid flow of speech rarely is achieved through textbooks alone. If one tries to speak by translating word for word, which often is the result of textbook studies alone, one tends to lose one's audience in a hurry. Also, textbook definitions of words (and even of phrases) don't always capture the full conotation (and sometimes not even the denotation) of the word or phrase. Only by interacting with Czechs can one really grasp some of these subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) distinctions.

    Now, having said that, I would definitely consider as "immersion" listening and speaking to one's Czech husband/friends and watching Czech TV/movies, when done often and regularly (which is, I think, the major difference in what I am saying versus what Ctyři Koruny is saying).

    Having been initially an "immersion learner" of Czech (meaning that I lived in the Czech Republic for over a year, moving there with little foreknowledge of the language--I'm American, by the way), I'll say that my active language skills (what I could say) quickly outstripped my passive language skills (what I understood) in the beginning. Eventually, I picked up a few textbooks and honed my passive skills as well.

    In contrast, after 4 years of high-school Spanish, I could read and understand advanced novels (e.g. classics) and write complex essays in Spanish, but when it came to conversation, I was lost. Then after a few years, while in college, I had two native-speaking roommates, one who took me Latin dancing among mostly non-English speakers. After making several more Spanish-speaking friends (and, yes, a girlfriend, too), I learned to actively speak Spanish fluidly (if not fluently) from my rusty old passive knowledge in just a few weeks.

    Also, I had taken a semester of college Russian some years before meeting my soon-to-be wife from Ukraine (Russian-speaking). Over the course of 8 months of dating her and interacting with her friends, I learned enough Russian without any textbooks whatsoever to skip the next 3 semesters of Russian on my way to a minor in Russian. Now (12 years later), I carry on technical conversations all the time with my Russian scientist friends.

    In short, immersion is essential to proper learning of the language, yet it doesn't necessarily require moving to the Czech Republic. You can just as easily do it here. Just be consistent in your study approach and actively use your language often and regularly.
  9. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I guess it depends on the type of learner you are, I know someone who has lived here for 13 years, has a Czech wife, and is pretty immersed in the language most of the time, and still can't tell the time. He needs to study. For me study is the foundation of everything. At the moment I still speak very slowly and have difficulty applying what I know about grammar to a sentence when I'm forming it out loud, but reading writing and listening are going ahead fine. I do need more speaking practice though, I can survive fine if I have to explain what I need to someone in a shop, even if I don't know the name of it, and I can return things that are broken or have missing parts etc. because that's where my experience is,but most of my friends who i see every day speak English and get frustrated by my attempts at Czech! Conversation seems a long way off. But like you said, once I have the practice that will just happen.
    Also I know with my students the difference is not whether or not they have ever been to an English Speaking country, and it's not their age, it's how much they study and how they study.

    I would count Songs/Films/TV etc. as a different method of study and drilling, but I guess they could fall under the heading of Immersion as well. People seem to think of study as sitting down and repeating the words over and over again, or reading something with a dictionary, that's not what I mean at all.
    I tend to think of immersion as "thrown in the deep end" going to a country and having to learn through necessity. That's what I think is over-rated.
  10. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I can accept your definition of immersion, Ctryri Koruny. I would say that your choice of the word "necessity" is open to interpretation, however. For me, "necessity" also included getting to know my wife through the ability to communicate in her native language. I'll admit, I may be different from most American men with foreign wives in that respect, but I suppose going through a college sociology class, where I did a research paper on cross-cultural marriage, has largely shaped my feelings on that matter.

    Back to the "immersion" issue, it seems that your self-acknowledged lack of adequate speaking practice is largely the culprit in your difficulty expressing yourself at a normal speaking pace. This is the heart of what I would consider immersion--practicing what you learn. If your main goal, as has been mine, in learning a foreign language is to be able to converse in that language, by all means use any and all available opportunities to do so.

    My advice to anyone wanting to converse fluidly in any foreign language: don't be afraid to make grammatical mistakes--they'll happen no matter what your level of language book-learning and comprehension. Sometimes you'll recognize your own mistakes just as you're saying them--sometimes you won't until a native speaker points our your mistakes to you. Swallow your pride (believe me, this was and is extremely difficult for a physicist such as myself to do), and just go out and actively use whatever language you have learned in conversation. And when you make mistakes, sometimes you'll just have to laugh at yourself (along with your Czech friends rolling on the floor). :lol:

    By "active," I mean speak aloud to whomever you have the opportunity with. Reading, listening, and any book learning comprise what I would call "passive" learning, and do little to help build conversational skills unless one also actively uses what he/she has passively learned. Comprehension in conversation can be built on book learning, reading, listen to TV, etc., but speaking skills require one to practice often and regularly.

    I know this, because I have all but lost my ability to speak fluidly in Czech, due to a lack of opportunities near at hand--also compounded by my constant speaking of Russian (note, my comprehension is largely unaffected). Yet, I have little doubt, that when/if the opportunity arrives to speak again regularly and often, my speaking skills would largely return in a matter of weeks, if not days. It's all still up there in the gray matter--it's just a matter of accessing it rapidly. That's the real difference as I see it between active and passive language--speed of memory access--and it requires constant practice.
  11. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Wise words!

    Swallow my pride indeed! I'm teaching English, and maybe you know yourself as a teacher everyone expects you to be perfect, and you're not perfect at all! So when I make a mistake I feel worried that they'll realize I'm the fraud I really am ha ha.
    It's grand in the pub with my friends though. I just need to develop an alcohol problem so I'll get in more practice.

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