Getting Ready for Prague

I am excited as I prepare to go to Prague for my “five days to fluency in Czech challenge”. I am not going directly there, though, since I have my 50th high school reunion to attend in Montreal first, over the weekend. That should also be fun. Anyway I am packing tonight and will spend most of tomorrow getting to Montreal. The flight takes 4 and a half hours and the time difference is three hours. Two days there and then on to Prague to see what I can learn in five days. I will be reading and listening to Czech on the way over, unless I fall asleep or have a talkative neighbour on the flight..

8 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Prague

  1. Dear Steve!I was according to your personal letter first person who was using The linguist for studying English from our small country. You with your memory for sure remember your private writing which I got directly from you. Now I am very pleased to see your progress even in the Czech language. If I can be any help for you to accompany and speak in my mother language with you during your visit to Prague or even to Brno in October this year let me please know. I will try to adapt my time plans to be available for you.Nashledanou v Praze nebo v Brn??!!Zden??k ??ert

  2. Dear Steve,I just found your last post by chance and got very excited about your plans to visit Prague and attempt to learn the language. I am Czech and a private language tutor by profession so please dont hesitate to ask any questions (should you have any) before you go/when you are there; I would love to help a fellow linguist if I can. (I am based in the UK but will be in Prague for the next few days, possibly weeks.) I have spent many years learning languages in many differents ways, using a variety of methods. I have done a similar thing before I went to India, I spent about a week looking at the language and it paid off- I was able to have a (embarassingly horrible) conversation with a taxi driver! I think you are incredibly brave to post this before you go but I am indeed very curious to find out how you get on with your task. It would be lovely to hear from you,Alena

  3. 50-year?! I didn’t know you were that old, Steve, you look about 55 or so in your picture. I just had my 10 year recently and that made me feel old, thanks for making me feel better! :PBest of luck with your Czech, I’m really curious to see what you can do with 5 days after doing only passive-input, I look forward to your updates and hope that they’re really detailed, don’t hesitate to write long posts, we’ll read them.Cheers,Andrew

  4. Alena – is Czech one of the languages you tutor? I was wondering how you approach it in the UK. In the US, it is assumed that students will not do grammar, so the idea of cases (and the fact they require different forms of a word) is usually introduced as slowly and hence painfully as possible. Are Brits braver about this? There’s an expression in Czech I can’t quite remember – "speaking as the beak grew" – which works fine, to a certain level, in one’s native language, but leaves those of us without the required beak with a problem.

  5. Amer, I will disappoint you- you cant grow the beak i am afraid. Mluvit jak ti zobak narost. You are right and unfortunately the situation is identical here in the UK. Incredibly, the poor kids in schools here don’t even learn the grammar of their own language- how could they later possibly understand, learn and actively use something like the complex Czech syntax. The only way is to pretend we don’t need grammar when we learn a language; babies and toddlers don’t know any grammar and they learn, so why cant we? Well, we cant, I am afraid, we are no longer toddlers and dont have the same (temporary!) capacity for language acquisition, therefore any attempts to learn in the same way babies do will only result in parroting words and frases and indeed knowing as much about the language as a clever parrot does….This is why I eventually set up my private language tuition business here in London, because I wanted to do things differently, properly. And I wanted to help people to really learn and understand the language. And thats what I do and it works very well!Are you learning Czech?Alena

  6. Alena – I was taught Slovak in the Army: 7 hours/day, 5 days/wk, 1 year. It was in 1967-1968, so I learned Slovak by reading Dubcek’s speeches – and everybody else’s. My teachers were recently arrived/escaped from Bratislava and we spent most of the time discussing the events there. (I asked questions, they talked.) And they made sure I could decline and conjugate.Czech I "picked up" by reading and translating chemical patents (my job). I spent 3 years in Prague recently and did my best to convert my reading knowledge to some kind of speaking ability, but speaking really isn’t my thing in any language, so while I got a lot better, I never got fluent. I should have been more insistent about finding a tutor, I think. I wish you luck in teaching Czech and its 124+ basic paradigms (from the tables at the beginning of Fronek’s dictionary) to people who are a little shaky on the difference between direct and indirect objects (not to mention the ablative case).

  7. Hey Steve, you’re a self-important gas bag, who loves his own voice and fragile egotist!P.S.I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHERE ARE YOU AND WHAT YOU DO!

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