Is Czech easy?
A native (US) English speaker, I studied Latin and French in high school, and Russian and a little more French in college.
Latin was my first exposure to the whole conjugated/declined language thing, but it didn't seem all that complicated. To me, Latin was a pretty "well organized" language, and -- since it was also a "dead" one -- pronunciation didn't much matter.
My high-school French teacher used picture-book/recording teaching materials, and it was a full year before we ever set eyes on written French. As a result, we all had great pronunciation... until the first opportunity to read, at which point it all fell apart for a while.
By the time I got to Russian, I was familiar with conjugations and declensions, and with mastering "weird" sounds. So the main hurdle there was the alphabet.
Then along comes Czech... similar, I was thinking, to Russian, being Slavic and all that. The reality: not so much!
I love the sound of Czech and hope that someday I'll master pronunciation, vowel length, and intonation -- and be perfectly comfortable with all of the diacritics, when it comes to the written word. (Right now, my eyes tend to glaze over when presented with a page of written Czech.)
But the grammar is a killer. For me, that's mainly because the conjugation and declension paradigms seem really inconsistent, compared to Russian and Latin. And then there's WORD ORDER, which has a life of its own... and I won't go there.
So, as others have said, Czech will be easier or harder to learn depending on the learner's native language and exposure to other ones. I've seen Czech on a list of "very hard" languages for native English speakers to learn, and I'm inclined to agree with that categorization. On the bright side, it wasn't in the "super hard" group, so that's something! :-)
Good luck to everyone already taking the course, and especially to those just thinking about it. This course is great, and the people behind it and taking it are a great bunch, too.
Dear BHBass and learners/moderators. First of all thanks to the contributors for the wonderful occasion that this course is creating. My mother tongue is Dutch. I am learning several languages but unfortunately I have the feeling all the progress I have made in the last past years have disappeared from the moment I started studying Czech. CZECH IS THRILLING, FASCINATING BECAUSE TOUGH that's the point! Anything of it: grammar, wordorder, word and phrase flections and combinations, vocabulary, pronunciation,.. Do you want to learn it well and it is your first and only Slavic language you want to deal with? Just put aside any other language you were concentrating on and emerge you fully on Czech. Please don't complain, you are in front of a marvelous project that many people are afraid of to consider! So love for the brave!
Here you will find some informations about:
1 Explanation why subjective difficulty of languages is based on a background of a learner.
2 A chart with estimated difficulty of languages for native English speakers.
3 Some interesting comparison of perceived difficulty of some other language groups.
As some totally new to learning languages, no, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a worthwhile language to learn! It can get very confusing grammatically, and it's difficult learning how to pronounce some words, but the language is incredibly enjoyable and it's very rewarding to learn
This is a good point that doesn't necessarily apply in English -- and may be really frustrating for those learning it!
In Czech, once you know how a letter sounds, you can count on it sounding the same way wherever you find it. (My comment treats vowels with and without diacritics as different letters.)
Oops... I forgot about the voiced/voiceless changes in consonant clusters and at the end of words -- but they're not at all problematic once you understand what's going on. And that won't take long, even if you have no idea what I just said! :-)
Also, Czech ALWAYS places the stress/accent on the first syllable -- although it doesn't always sound like it, when long vowels appear in the following syllables.
Never a dull moment! :-)
My experience of learning languages (native American) is roughly 2 years of Spanish high school, 5 semesters of French in uni, relearning Spanish via duolingo/Pimsleur 14 years later, doing duolingo/Pimsleur/self-study on Italian, dabbling into some languages, notably Japanese and Lithuanian but also trying out Ukrainian and Russian.
Thus, when I get to learning Czech, it's not as tough and daunting is it seems to be for many people. It's clearly easier for me than Ukrainian, Russian and Japanese (no new script to learn, although in truth Cyrllic was pretty easy. I learned and forgot it twice after a few hours of practice). What really helped me was my exposure to Lithuanian and its 7 cases, no articles, neuter and a similar style of speak and writing (for some reason, spoken Lithuanian sounds most like Czech).
Some things to keep in mind to help you think that Czech is EASIER than people are saying up here: - No need for articles. Thus you don't have to match the le and la avec les autres mots on the basis of gender. BUT you still can use "ty", "ten", for "the" if needed, etc. Pretty cool! - It's a pretty phonetic language. What you see is what you speak, if you learn it correctly. There's no major difference between phonetic and spoken form like English or French. (This is why, despite studying and being exposed to French the most especially in written form, I can still often understand Italians and Spaniards easier) - Still a lot of words that exist in English are also in Czech through Greek, Latin and loanwords. - Word formation can be very easy. If you understand the meaning of roots and prefixes, words are often simply putting them together. - Pronunciation is not particularly hard, although there will be some strange consonant combinations that you will need to learn. I would put it on a similar scale with Italian and Spanish (albeit, no trilled "r"!!!).
Anyways, that's my opinion. Most of all, you simply have to have the motivation to learn. Enjoy learning Czech!
It entirely depends on what your native language is and/or what other languages you speak. It is very easy for Slovaks, fairly easy for Poles, Russians and any other Slavic native speakers. Not too bad for French speakers but yeah, not that easy for native English speakers.
"not too bad for French speakers" I'm French and I find Czech very difficult to learn... But also very beautiful and interesting. No problems with conjugations thanks to French no problems with pronunciation (I am a musician, and I spent 4weeks in Czech rep few years ago, I think that helps) but the cases... How do you do to remember all the declensions for the four genders? Do you have some tips?