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Why on earth are you learning Czech? #learningCzech

For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a quick introduction: I’m a native Portuguese speaker and English teacher. I was born in Brazil and I’ve lived here all my life, apart from a three year period when I happily lived in the UK. I started studying English when I was nine years old, when my parents, with good forethought, enrolled me on an English language course in Rio de Janeiro.

I finished my English course when I was 20 but, before that, I had started studying English and Portuguese at university. I started teaching English when I was 19, and it’s been an amazing 17 years on this teaching journey – you can do the sums to see how old I am! I’ve always been fascinated by learning languages and I dabbled in a few while I was at university: little a bit of Italian, German and Spanish – all of which I didn’t take very seriously at the time.

As a language teacher, I must admit that it’s sometimes easy to take things for granted.For example, over-reliance on certain resources while teaching.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 00.59.31

Why learn new a language and why on earth Czech? It’s such a difficult language!

When I told some friends about my plans to learn Czech, all I heard was: “Wow…why?”, “Why not German?” ( sure, why not, it’s super easy compared to Czech, right?), “How impressive, but that’s a bit crazy for my liking”.

Well, I’ve decided to learn a language from scratch because I want to  get a feel for what goes on in the mind of a beginner student. If I can put myself into my students’ shoes, will I be able to help them achieve their language goals more efficiently? Will I become a better teacher? Will my assumptions or beliefs change at all? I love teaching and I celebrate my students’ achievements like no one else. I also believe that all teachers should be a lifelong learners and dedicate themselves to continuous improvement. As a non-native bilingual English teacher my perspective is influenced by my own learning experience.

I could have chosen an “easier” language, considering my linguistic and fitness background: Latin and Anglo-Saxon languages would have been much easier and faster to pick up but who says the well-trodden path will provide the greater adventure? I deliberately chose Czech for three reasons:

  1. Czech is like no other language I’ve ever come across ( Disclaimer : I subsequently discovered that Czech is strongly influenced by Latin and German – but I wouldn’t let that spoil my motivation)
  2. I visited Prague in 2013, fell in love with the city and I desperately want to return sometime; this time I want to be able chat with locals especially with handsome Czech men
  3. I was fascinated by the written appearance of the language and its quirky spelling.

Initial Plan & Goals

My initial plans are:

  • Study Czech online guided by an online teacher for four months, (two lessons per week). On top of that, I will commit myself to  thirty minutes independent study every day.
  • My primary goal is to learn basic Czech so that I can engage in basic conversation with a native speaker.
  • Another goal is to take my newfound insights as a student and apply them to the lessons I provide as a language teacher.

In my next blog post, I will write about my first lesson and impressions. Stay tuned.

P.S. This the first of a series of blog posts which will be tagged as #learningCzech

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. nikkifortova says:

    I loved reading your story and *klobouk dolu* for putting yourself into the shoes of a complete beginner to understand your learners better. I’ve been living in the Czech Republic and learning the language for over a decade. It’s a beautiful language which opens the door to an equally beautiful culture. Enjoy the journey and keep us posted along the way 🙂

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing your own experience in the adventure of learning. I similarly began studying piano – I couldn’t read music scores and didn’t know the keys on the keyboard. My objective instead of identifying the learning process was more focused on developing empathy, that is becoming more patient with the students’ difficulties when learning English or Spanish. This effort led me to the conclusion that more than a great teacher it’s very important to practice whatever you’re studying otherwise progress will always be stunted.

    Keep the great blog stories coming.

    Cheers,

    Mo

    Like

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