6 Tips on Studying the Czech language in Prague on a Budget
If you are planning to study in the Czech Republic, you will likely be confronted with learning the Czech language sooner or later. Even if your degree program is taught in English, having a basic knowledge of the Czech language will help you on and off campus, even if it’s just the need to order in a restaurant or ask for help.
The Foreign Service Institute categorizes Czech as a level IV language, which means a very hard language that takes 44 weeks or 1,100 hours to learn at a basic conversational level. If you still decide to learn the basics – you are in for a hard road. However, there are several ways how to make learning Czech bearable and even fun!
While there are many language schools and private tutors in Prague, the prices aren’t always budget friendly. If you want to learn the language but not spend too much money on courses and textbooks, here are some free or cheap resources to get you started:
The Center for integration of immigrants offers a wide range of courses including intensive classes for beginners and “false beginners”, evening courses for advanced students, open classes, courses for children, and preparation courses for the A1 and B1 exams. No need to pre-register, no textbooks, and you only pay 50 CZK per lesson on the spot. Most of their courses take place at educational centre at Prague 8, but they organize courses at other Prague localities as well (Prague 3, Prague 4, Prague 13) and outside of Prague (Kladno, Kolín, Liberec, Mělník, Mladá Boleslav).
The Integrační centrum Praha (ICP) offers Czech language courses for adults that cover Beginner (A1) and Basic (A2) levels. The courses (available to non-EU citizens with legal residence in the Czech Republic for a period exceeding 90 days.) include 100 lessons with an emphasis on grammar, comprehension, and conversation. Both courses run throughout the year – once one finishes, a new one starts soon after. While the classes are technically free, students are required to pay a deposit of 2,000 CZK before the start of the course. Students who attend at least 70 % of the classes will get their deposit back.
There are also many language exchanges going on in the capital city. One of them, BlaBla Language Exchange, meets once a week on Wednesday evenings for a friendly coffee or drink. Currently, the meetings are at Coffice Prague, a social coworking space in Prague 2, but locations might change, so always double-check in advance. The events are free (but there’s a donation box and you’ll pay for whatever you drink) and they’re not limited to Czech. This means you can technically come over and practice any language.
Mluvte Cesky! (Speak Czech!) is the only online course of Czech language for foreigners in English, German, Polish and Slovak. You can enjoy multimedia content with engaging interactive exercises, games, texts, as well as various audio-visual tools. The units cover things like Czech customs and traditions, orientation in a hospital, food and drinks, weather, shopping, and more. The focus of the course is on survival Czech, so don’t expect complicated grammar or advanced communication, but this is a great place to start if you’re a complete beginner.
Reality Czech is an openly licensed Czech textbook and curriculum currently under development by Dr. Christian Hilchey from the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies in collaboration with the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning at the University of Texas at Austin. It offers a nice selection of materials for beginners, including videos, exercises, audio and some basic grammar. You’ll learn pronunciation rules, how to predict noun gender, vocative case forms, and demonstrative pronouns. It aims to be an effective program to help absolute beginners become comfortable in basic Czech communication.
If none of these options sounds appealing to you, Duolingo, which is arguably the most famous free language-learning app on the planet, is here to help you with its recent addition of Czech language to its available courses in 2018.
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