We’ve explored why some expats don’t speak Czech, and what studying a second language does to native English speakers. But just to be clear, none of that outweighs the upsides of mastering the local language.
1. Show Some Respect
“If you, as an expat, live in the Czech Republic and speak Czech, you will find that Czechs take you more seriously and view you as a friendlier person,” Jirka Ludvar promises. Making an effort shows that you recognize it’s a privilege, not a right, for us to be here.
2. Make Friends
Czech lessons are a great place to meet people. “Most of my groups finish in the pub after class,” says Helena Bartošová from Czech Language Training. “One group that I had two years ago still has regular meetings at least once a month.”
3. Connect to the Culture
Watch a fairy tale without subtitles, read The Good Soldier Svejk in its original form — there’s a whole world of entertainment alone that’s well worth the effort.
4. Expand Your Access to Information
Don’t limit yourself to English-language search results or miss out on breaking news. Czech language teacher Hana McTomšů points out that if you learn Czech, “You don’t have to wait for what is chosen for you. You can find what you want to know yourself.”
5. Stop Relying on Google Translate
If you’ve ever gotten a result like “book you easily on internet zdarma”, you’ll agree that translation software has a long way to go.
6. Run Errands Independently
Tired of begging friends or paying people to accompany you to the bank/post office/Ministry of the Interior? Get your endings right and watch that grumpy government employee’s frown turn upside-down.
7. Enjoy Eavesdropping
“If people start talking about you like you’re fool, you can easily respond and then just enjoy their reaction. Isn’t that worth it?” asks Julia Kim, an expat from Uzbekistan.
8. Widen Your Dating Pool
“Because Czech guys will love it!” promises Kateřina Chadová. Beer and body language may be a good start, but they can only sustain a relationship for so long.
9. Impress Your (Future) In-Laws
Even if your Czech significant other speaks English beautifully, when it’s time to meet the parents or the grandparents, you’d better know your tykat from your vykat.
10. Shatter Stereotypes
“Many of the Czechs I meet are fascinated by the random series of decisions that led me to their beautiful language, and then happily surprised that I can comfortably carry out a conversation with them,” says American expat Lani Seelinger.
11. Become a Better Teacher (or Listener)
“You’ll understand what your students are going through,” American Kendra Hoover suggests to the many expat English teachers. Chadová adds, “It will help you understand why we Czechs make certain mistakes in English.”
12. Impress Visitors
Translating street signs, ordering for the table, or helping relatives check in to a small hotel in a remote Czech village shows friends and family that you’ve truly made a life here. If you’re lucky, they might even stop asking when you’re moving home again.
13. Travel Outside of Prague
“All one has to do is leave the comforts of the capital and escape to the countryside to discover that people rarely speak anything other than Czech,” American expat Charles Stewart observes. Don’t deprive yourself of the beauty beyond the city limits.
14. Avoid Alzheimer’s
If social rewards aren’t enough, do it for your mental health. The Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology found that learning a second language could help delay the onset of dementia for up to four-and-a-half years.
15. Feel Like You Belong
“It really helps connect you to the country and the people,” insists British expat Erica Harrison. “It’s the best way to make your adopted country feel more like home.”