Struggling to find your way in government buildings, the post office and on the street? Maybe it’s time to finally bite the bullet and enroll in some Czech classes. Whether you are an absolute beginner or perhaps have managed to pick up a couple of phrases to get by, Prague has a host of language schools all prepared to teach foreigners Czech. In some ways having so many options is half the problem, how do you even begin to decide which course is right for you?
As most schools appear to offer a similar range of courses, deciding what your requirements are can often help to narrow the field. For an absolute beginner, Miroslav Kašpárek from Czech Language Training recommends doing an intensive Czech course. A beginner intensive course will get you speaking and understanding basic Czech quickly. Additionally, there are other levels available if you are looking more to refresh and/or expand on what you already know. Both language schools Noisis (Bělehradská 79 Prague 2, www.noisis.cz) and Czech Language Training (Prague 3, www.czlt.cz) run intensive 2-week Czech courses, consisting of around 30 hours with prices ranging from 4,690CZK to 6,000CZK.
Caledonian School (Národní 11 Prague 1, www.caledonianschool.com) and Akcent (Prague 4, www.akcent.cz) run 3-week intensive Czech courses, consisting of about 49 hours with prices respectively 8,700CZK and 9,300CZK. Intensive courses are a great way to try and immerse yourself in learning a language, but as they are often scheduled for the entire morning, Monday to Friday, they are generally not practical if you are juggling a full-time job or have other commitments at the same time.
An important factor in deciding what course to go for is how much time you are able to dedicate to Czech lessons. Standard courses are held by all language schools, and consist of classes which are normally only once or twice a week, either during the morning or evening. They generally range from 3-6 months, and you can expect to pay something between 6,000 – 8,000CZK. Standard courses are held at the language school´s premises, the location of which could be an important factor in deciding which school would suit you best. A few examples are: Tutor (U Půjčovny 952/2 Prague 1, www.tutor.cz), which provides 15-week group Czech courses for several levels, consisting of 45 hours for 6,900CZK; Mulberry (Štitneho 105/6 Prague 3, www.mulberrylanguage.com) provides a 12-week beginner group course, consisting of 36 hours for 6,000CZK and Caledonian School offers 19-week group courses for several levels, consisting of 57 hours for 7,980CZK.
Group courses are a nice way to meet new people and a good way to practice conversing in Czech in a supportive environment. However, some people may find the time slots available restrictive, or perhaps discover they are at a level which is not catered to in standard Czech courses. If this is the case for you, there are two other options which might meet your needs better. If you have a group of friends or colleagues who are at the same language level, it is often possible to organize private group lessons which give you more opportunities to pick a time and place suitable for you. Czech Language Training offers 45-minute lessons for two people, priced at 200CZK each, or for three people at 180CZK each.
The other option is to go for individual lessons. These have the benefit of being flexible with times, often the place where the class will be held is arranged to be where it would best suit you, and the teacher will be focused entirely on your individual needs. It is possible to find an independent Czech teacher for private lessons, but most language schools also give you these private options. For example, ITC (Františka Křížka 1 Prague 7, www.itc-czechforforeigners.com) offers individual 45/60/90 minute lessons for 330/460/660CZK, while Czech Language Training offers individual 45 minute lessons for 350CZK.
For expats who have lived in the Czech Republic for several years and are thinking of applying for their permanent residency permit, ITC, Czech Language Training, AMOS (Dukelských hrdinů 21 Prague 7, www.czechforforeigners.cz), Caledonian and CZ Lingua (Wuchterlova 5 Prague 6, www.czlingua.cz), all provide courses designed to help expats study for the language test which is now part of the requirements for acquiring your permanent residency permit.
If you have travelled to the Czech Republic with your children and want to help them learn Czech, Mulberry, AMOS and Czech Language Training offer Czech courses for children.
Learning Czech is no easy task, but finding the right Czech course for you can make it a lot easier and more rewarding. Talk to friends and colleagues who are already taking Czech courses, or have in the past, for their recommendations. Don´t forget to read the reviews posted on Expats.cz about the different language schools. These are probably the two best ways to help you narrow your options. In the end it is finding the course that best suits your individual requirements that is most important and then taking the plunge!