Recently, I briefly worked with someone who was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Canada as a child. Of course, I couldn't waste the opportunity to pick up a few Czech words and get an idea of what this language is like from a native bilingual Czech/English speaker.
For a native speaker of English, Czech is relatively complex and irregular. There are also a few sounds difficult to produce, including one particular sound (sort of a cross between a trilled r and a zh, if you can imagine that!) which can be very tricky.
A few facts about the Czech language :
Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic (of course) and is spoken by Czechs living around the world. It is also one of the official languages of the European Union.
As a West Slavic language, it is closely related to Polish and Sorbian, as well as being mutually intelligible with Slovak. Like Barry Farber says, you'll get a discount if you also learn one of these other related languages, but also to a lesser degree Russian and other Slavic languages.
There are very few published courses and resources to learn Czech, so our choices are limited.
Local Lingo - A site that helps you learn Czech
That's actually their tag line, so this site is just what we're looking for! This site has a pronunciation guide, a phrasebook with audio, basic grammar and vocabulary, and a forum.
The Little Czech Primer in Pictures
This fun little site has hand drawn pictures with basic vocabulary in Czech.
Czech-American TV - short video lessons for learning Czech. There are lots of other videos and news about the Czech Republic, Czech language and culture.
All things about Czech language and culture.
Before You Know It Lite
Transparent Language offers a free vocabulary trainer to get started learning Czech. Get your Free BYKI™ Lite download by Transparent Language . If you like it you can upgrade to the deluxe version. Read my review of BYKI.
Teach Yourself Czech
The longstanding Teach Yourself series has always had a wide variety of languages, and fortunately they have a course to learn Czech. The coursebook comes with two audio cd's and is available in most bookstores or online. Be forewarned, however, that this course is not for the traveler or casual learner. Czech grammar can be complex and difficult and this course doesn't attempt to whitewash or avoid that. This is more than just a phrasebook.
This inexpensive software program to learn Czech is a great tool to have in your arsenal. Lots of vocabulary and phrases, dialogues, audio from native speakers, games and activities and much more to get you started on your path to learn Czech.
Pimsleur Czech Comprehensive
Pimsleurs Czech Comprehensive Level 1 is a relatively new addition to the Pimsleur line. Pimsleurs all-audio format is a great introduction to the language, and with it you'll develop a better accent and conversation ability than with any other published language method. It's a great way to begin to learn Czech. For a more in-depth look at how Pimsleur products work, read my review of Pimsleur products.
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