I always thought that Czech was a very difficult language, that foreigners coming from western Europe or America could not just pick it up and only those who really learn vocabulary and grammar can make some progress. I was misled by their funny pronunciation and ignorance of the Czech declension and conjunction rules. Foreigners can not pick up Czech? Nothing could be further from the truth. After some time of living in a country speaking even a weird language you start to understand. You can work in a multinational company, you do not speak the local language regularly but it gets under your skin.. The food vocabulary you get the fastest because it is the critical factor for shopping. You learn even faster when you order in a restaurant but at the end you get a dish that you do not eat because you hoped it was something else. It happened to me in Portugal. This happens only once. Next time you make sure you understand the menu. So it is with other words. Yes, foreigners living for few years in the Czech republic understand Czech to a large extent and the Czechs underestimate it. I was taught a lesson when I heard how my Dutch boyfriend speaks Czech with a bricklayer. He did not know I was there and hence he spoke Czech. Naturally it is a kind of advantage when you understand the language and the others do not know about it. Then they speak quite openly and you get to know much more. However once it comes to an issue with the Czech authorities, money matters in a bank, search for a flat or a warranty claim in a shop the foreigners get lost. All these situations require proper understanding of the language. If this is not the case you can not be sure that you get what you are aiming at. Either your counterparts in communication do not understand what you wish or you agree with something you would never accept when you fully understood. In such case it pays off to have a help. It might be a friend but rather a professional advisor who knows the issue. When I was learning Dutch in the Netherlands I could not really practice it. When I started speaking Dutch, everyone switched to English because they recognized I was a foreigner in the Netherlands. Our teacher advised us what to do in such a case. We should have said that we did not understand English so the Dutch would have to speak Dutch. It worked. I advise this small trick to foreigners in the Czech republic as well. However not at a foreign police office nor in a bank.
For the last six years we have been telling the waiter in our favourite restaurant that we do not speak German. We only speak Czech and English. He still speaks German to us every time we go in there.
I learnt to comunicate in 3 months. I learnt conversational in 6 months. my situation was not ´normal´ as most people, first 6months I didn´t work, but lived with a non English speaking Czech family. next 6months I worked in a factory where only 1 person spoke English, and my ´friends´ spoke no English. Next 3years I worked in a non english speaking office, and had only non-english speaking friends. in fact pretty much 8years of being here, my only outlet for speaking English has been internet forums like this one, and the occasional trip somewhere. right now my daily comunication is about 50/50 English and Czech. its not impossible, not even difficult, you just need to want it enough.
Quote: gordonnFor the last six years we have been telling the waiter in our favourite restaurant that we do not speak German. We only speak Czech and English. He still speaks German to us every time we go in there.Maybe it's the uniform you insist on wearing !:D
Quote: gordonnFor the last six years we have been telling the waiter in our favourite restaurant that we do not speak German. We only speak Czech and English. He still speaks German to us every time we go in there.Consider it motivation to learn German. ;)
I've been here 1.5 years now, and I just had a short phonecall with my Czech landlady about a small job that needs to be done this week. I didn't understand every word, but I did understand everything that was important and was able to respond. It was a very pleasing feeling! :) The problem most Germanic language-speaking foreigners have with Czech is that it's just so hard to get the basics right. You feel like you're trying to take on an entire army single-handedly, and so many just give up. In my case, I can now see the rewards or not doing so, and of 1 1/2 years of work. Sure, I'm a million miles away from total fluency but I'm most definitely on the correct road. My simple advice to people is to make sure your attitude is right, and just make a consistent effort. :)