Learning Czech: Free Apps for Beginners
If you are a frequent visitor to Prague, the day will come when you want to learn the language. Learning Czech is not as difficult as it may seem. No need to pay for lessons because there are tons of free apps. Fifteen minutes a day and a bit of perseverance will make you a fluent Czech speaker. If you are a compulsive reader, you need not start from scratch because you already know quite a few words and phrases. Some of them you understood from context, while others you only read. Be assured all these words have been stored in your brain and will be activated once you start studying the language.
Learn (a little) Czech, read everything you see
Learning Czech and being a compulsive reader has a big advantage because they read all words and phrases: street names, advertisements, names of shops, what they sell and much more. The good thing is you have learnt many Czech words without realizing it.
1. Let’s start with the street map of Prague: Nové Město (New Town), Staré Město (Old Town), Malá Strana (Lesser Side), náměstí republiky (Square of the republic), pražský hrad (Prague Castle), taneční dům (dancing house), Karlův most (Charles Bridge), národní muzeum (National Museum), zlatá ulice (golden Lane).
2. In the tram and metro: výtah (lift), výstup (exit), vchod (entrance), příští stanice (next station), bílá hora (white mountain, terminus of tram 22), černý most (black bridge, terminus of metro line B), příští stanice (next station), tento vlak končí v … (this train terminates at …)
3. In the streets: obchod (shop), pozor (beware), otevřeno (open), zavřeno (closed), vaše rychlost (your speed), thr (market), potraviny (foodstore), žábka (frog, but also a chain of small supermarkets), sleva (discount), zdarma (free), tam (push), sem (pull).
4. In restaurants: poledni menu (lunch menu), jídelní lístek (menu card), polévka (soup), káva (coffee), pivo (beer) řízek (schnitzel), sýr (cheese), brambor (potato), hranolky (fries) .
These are only a few examples; in reality, you know many more Czech words.
Learning Czech: free apps for beginners
1. One minute Czech
Ten one-minute YouTube videos. You will learn some expressions such as hello, goodbye, thank you, I speak (no) Czech. Much attention is paid to pronunciation and therefore these videos are excellent for complete beginners.
2. Simply Learn Czech app
Best used after having listened to ‘One Minute Czech’ videos. This app contains expressions and words: 30 categories and more than 1000 words and phrases.
3. Tobo app
Perfect for beginners as well as for the more advanced students. The app uses flashcards which make memorizing vocabulary easy. Swipe to the right to mark the word as learned and to the left to be shown again. There are also excercises: word multiple choice and filling in words.
4. Duolingo app
This app slowly builds up your knowledge of Czech. Duolingo is perfect for beginners but also if you already know some Czech. As you progress, more difficult constructions are covered. There are listening, filling in and writing exercises. The downside is that there is no grammatical explanation. Duolingo Czech Learners, a Facebook group, is very useful because you can ask questions about the Czech language.
A comprehensive list of over 180 podcast episodes for all levels from beginners to advanced. Slowczech’s podcasts are accompanied by transcripts which helps in understanding all words and phrases.
6. Youtube Czech with Kateřina
5-10 minute video lessons from zero to intermediate. With printable exercises to practice.
7. Good Czech
Simple Czech texts about everyday subjects with a glossary at the end. There’s also the option to have audio with the stories if you want to hear the correct pronunciation, but that’s a paid option (goodczech.wordpress.com)
6. Google translate
Google translate is a handy tool not only to translate a word, but by clicking on the microphone you hear the pronunciation. Here are three tongue twisters to try. Even for Czechs they are difficult to pronounce.
Copy and paste the text to Google translate and listen
*Tři sta třicet tři stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes stři sta třicet tři stříbrných střech.
333 silver quail flew over 133 silver roofs
*Pokopete-li mi to pole, nebo nepokopete-li mi to pole.
Will you dig that field for me, or will you not dig that field for me?
*Kmotře Petře, nepřepepřete mi toho vepře, jak mi, kmotře Petře, toho vepře přepepříte, tak si toho přepepřeného vepře sám sníte.
Uncle Peter, don’t over-season that pork; If you, Uncle Peter, over-season that pork, you’ll eat that over-seasoned pork yourself.
Learning Czech: advantages and disadvantages of these apps
The advantages are that you work at your own pace. You always have your phone with you. So a lost fifteen minutes can be put to good use. Another advantage is that you not only read but also listen to Czech because all words and sentences are spoken by male or female speakers (not of flesh and blood but these days technology can imitate the spoken word perfectly).
The disadvantage is that grammar is not explained. The apps are perfect for memorizing sentences and expressions.
Why would you need grammar to learn Czech?
Grammar is not a favourite part of learning a language for most people Hardly anyone wants to study grammar rules. Learning and mastering Czech is easier when you know some rules.
Have a look at these examples
* Mám malý dům (I have a small house) but máme malé domy (we have small houses)
* Mám nové auto (I have a new car) but mám novou tašku (I have a new bag)
Malý and malé both translate as small and nové and novou both mean new.
Malý is used before a masculine noun and malé before a neuter noun, nové before neuter and novou before female.
Grammar will teach you when nouns are masculine, feminine or neuter and much more!
With these apps and points of grammar, your next trip to Prague will be even more enjoyable!
Why some knowledge of grammar is useful when learning Czech
Learning Czech with videos