Crash Course

I am traveling extensively in the Czech Republic for my job, and I need to get to a C1-C2 level (ideally) by November in order to do training for manufacturing employees in Czech. I can get by with a B2. I speak several other languages, and I have formal linguistics training via my university French degree.

I did the 30 day Pimsleur course, first, which was pretty good for allowing me to get around in the Czech Republic; however, it was just 30 lessons. I could buy gas, order at restaurants, get directions, shop at the mall, etc. That was about it, though

I started the Duolingo course in earnest about 3 weeks ago, and I think I spent too much time initially trying to perfect each skill before moving on to the next. I was traveling by train from Prague to Zlín last weekend, when a very nice woman the station on Otrokovice tried to engage me in conversation at which point I told her I was an American and spoke a little Czech. I was very frustrated that I didn’t have more vocabulary and fluency.

I have since changed to do fewer levels of more skills then going back to do higher levels. I seem to be progressing more quickly now; however, that may also have something to do with being on long-haul flight yesterday where I’ve seen all the movies and had a lot of time to study.

Any specific tips for how to do the Czech course most effectively?



August 25, 2019


This course may help you with grammar and possibly with listening comprehension. (Try to listen instead of looking at the screen for your translation exercises.)

The grammar coverage is decent, and the TTS is fairly good as well. But its vocabulary is limited to about 1200 dictionary entries, which are only partly aligned with the CEFR levels. I think 600 are A1, another 300 come from A2, and the rest is above that. "Complete" A2 could really be somewhere around 2000. I haven't bothered checking B2, but 4000 would hardly be surprising.

No matter how you make use of this course, you will need more vocabulary. The moment your vocabulary reaches critical mass, you can start reading Czech books for enjoyment and snowball your vocab that way. The first few books could be painful. Maybe try news coverage or sources related to your area of expertise and branch out from there.

You will also need all the speaking practice you can get. There is no substitute for actual speaking, but if you have not tried the timed typing practice here, consider it, see if it helps you start pushing yourself towards fluid grammar generation on the fly. The moment your speaking ability stops encouraging the cranky natives to switch to English, practice on them as much as possible.

Overall, your timeframe is so short that you will likely need to rely on immersion and use Duolingo as a practice tool.

August 27, 2019

Moc děkuji! Your suggestions are much appreciated. I have the advantage of being there about half time sortiment on meetings that are CoD účtem in English Amd Czech . I can watch TV in my hotel room including American movies dubbed in Czech on HBO. I’ve been reading the Czech Accounting Standards a good bit because I’m adapting a global ERP system to accommodate the rules. I also have coworkers who will speak to me in Czech and access to books and newspapers at my hotel. I will keep working on it.

August 27, 2019

Held in English. Sorry - switched to my Czech keyboard on my phone and predictive text is entertaining.

August 27, 2019

If I were you, I would supplement Duolingo with a private teacher for speaking and listening skills. They can engage you in conversations about the topic that you will need for your training later, for example.

(I did a postdoc in Prague in 1993 and was very much helped by some 10 lessens with a private teacher, after going through a book by myself.)

September 14, 2019

In addition, I found the book "Colloquial Czech : The Complete Course for Beginners" by James Naughton to be very useful. It starts with easy texts and adds complex aspects one by one. The author also explains the grammar pretty well.

September 15, 2019
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