Permanent Residency Language Test

Information on the language test required for permanent residency

Ryan Scott

Written by Ryan Scott
Published on 03.02.2010 14:43 (updated on 03.02.2010)

According to report from the Ministry of the Interior, fewer people are applying for permanent residency. An article which appeared on Czech National Radio´s website reported the reason could be the mandatory language test all non-EU citizens who wish to apply for permanent residency have to take. If you are one of these people who have postponed permanent residency because of the test, or are curious to know more about it, Expats.cz has put together the following information and tips to better help you to pass.

Why be a resident at all? No one says you have to be a permanent resident to live here. However, permanent residency does make life easier. Three important benefits are that you no longer need permission from the labor office to be employed, you can participate in the public health system more fully and best of all no annual trips to the Foreigners’ Police.

So if that sounds tempting, be prepared to sit the test. Yes, even if you have a Czech spouse. The only people exempt from the test are those over sixty and under fifteen, those who completed at least one year of primary or secondary education at a Czech school sometime in the 20 years before application and people who are mentally challenged. Update: EU citizens and family members of EU citizens are also exempt from taking the test (thanks, Alleyoop). But don’t fret too much if this does not include you. The language level tested is A1 level of the Common European Framework of Languages. This corresponds to an elementary level. The official description for the A1 level, which applies to all languages, is as follows:

“Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.”

This sounds kind of vague, as it´s meant to try and catch a myriad of learners and not be restrictive nor prescriptive. In other words, the emphasis is on communication. Those occasional fluffs are not going to be a major obstacle, nor will they fail you if you haven’t mastered your ‘ř.´

Of course, some grammatical accuracy is required and anyone who has studied Czech will see that it seems, from the outset, much more complex than English. With seven cases and three genders, there is a lot to remember, especially all those endings. However, the test is not about this type of knowledge. It’s about how much you understand and can be understood at a very basic level.

To get an experts perspective on the test, I contacted Dr. Cvejnová who has many years of Czech language teaching experience both here and abroad. She is also the author of several textbooks on learning Czech.

Cvejnová had some more to say on the test.

“The current test, A1, is selected so that a person, who has studied by whatever method (including those who learnt the language alone without a course) will pass it. Specifically it isn’t possible to recommend a method because all methods of studying a language should lead to this goal.”

“Everyone, who has control of Czech at the A1 level is able to pass the test. If someone can’t manage the test, then it means that he/she doesn’t have control of Czech at A1 level.  Implicitly, it is understood that this person, who will do the test, is literate, i.e. he/she can read and write. Nothing else is assumed.”

“In as much as it isn’t a matter of method, no specific textbook or course can be recommended. The philosophy of the test is such that all textbooks and all courses (as long as they teach at the A1 level, or even a higher level) which teach basic Czech should lead to success. If someone will prepare for the test alone, he/she can visit the official website www.check-your-czech.com , where various textbooks with levels are given and practice tests are shown. Because the test is constantly changing, the practice tests are also changing. Whoever is preparing for the next upcoming test should always look at the website for the current practice test. People should try out the test before doing it officially (i.e try the practice tests). Teachers can also work with the practice test in various courses. It is logical that a teacher, if he/she wants or should prepare his/her students specifically for the test, will use these practice tests in his/her course.”

This might be more apparent when we look at the test. The sample test (at least the one available at the time of writing) had three reading parts, the first a true or false, the second answering basic questions and the third a gap fill. The texts are based on advertisements, signs and one simple monologue. In other words, it contains the vocabulary you find around you. It doesn’t require you to demonstrate deep grammatical knowledge. And if you don’t believe me, try it. If you’re someone who’s been here for five years and has some regular interaction with people in Czech at shops or restaurants and can understand signs and simple texts, you should have a chance.

The Basics
So how did you do on the practice test? If you passed it, you might be ready. If you didn’t or only just, then maybe you need a bit more study. You are NOT required to attend a course. You can study alone or with a friend or family member. But if you do want a course you will find a list here. According to the website, most of the schools follow the Methodology of Preparation for the Examination in the Czech Language for Permanent Residence Applicants (Level A1). There is also a description of the methodology in Czech, so you can really test your knowledge.

When you are ready to take the test, and if it´s your first time, you should obtain a voucher from the Department for Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior (more information here). To get the voucher you only need to show proof that you’re applying for permanent residency. This voucher covers the cost of the exam. It is obtainable only once. If you have to sit the exam another time, each subsequent attempt will cost you 1500 CZK.  Only your patience and bank balance will limit how often you take the test. Once you pass, the examining school will issue you with a Certificate Proving the Knowledge of the Czech Language which must be submitted with your permanent residency application. Note: The certificate cannot be older than 180 days on the date you submit the application.

Have you taken the test? Share your thoughts, experiences and tips below!

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