Problems for Czech Learners of English
I have moved to the Czech Republic with my girlfriend who is Czech after we met in New Zealand, where I am from. Teaching English here was a business idea that she came up with because she taught English here before for 8 years. In Czech people are more interested in taking English lessons from a native speaker and they also like New Zealand over here. So from this perspective, it makes a lot of sense for me to do this course. Since I am going to be teaching in Czech to begin with, I have already started to see some issues with the language learning that I will be faced with.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Patrick A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
There are some grammar items that Czechs find particularly difficult. The present perfect tense is an example of this as they do not have a present perfect equivalent so it makes no sense to them. Also ‘going to’ versus ’will’ are confusing for them generally to distinguish between but I would imagine this is similar to other nations as well. There will be other things that I will come across in my teachings that pose a challenge to Czech speakers and with these items extra care and explanation will be needed to teach them.
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Reading is another area were at the basic level it is difficult because they see English as a language where no word is spelled how it sounds. Also, there are far too many rules with exceptions that people just don’t trust them, which I think is a problem for teaching. Getting them to read and helping with pronunciation then individually drilling them and taking turns at this can be a good way forward. I think maybe familiarization with the words and expectations of how that should sound is through exposure to the language is possibly the best solution to this area of development for the students.
The pronunciation of some of the consonants can be complicated for Czechs. Firstly ‘the’ will often sound like ‘t’. With the word ‘think’ they will often pronounce it like ‘tink’. With ‘r’ in the Czech language, there are two different types, you have a regular rolled ‘r’ and then an ‘r’ with a ‘j’ sound that you articulate simultaneously and it is a very difficult letter to pronounce for English speakers. A simple word like ‘Girlfriend’ is hard to say for Czechs though because there are two ‘r’ sounds fairly close to each other and not rolling the ‘r’, even if it seems like an easy letter is a practiced skill just like any other sound that we make.
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Every nation has its troubles with various aspects of the English language. In general Czech people have the opinion that English is an easier language to learn than their language. English is seen as the most important language to learn for Czechs. English is a global language and most Czech speakers believe it is practical to learn. It is often used to communicate with people from other European countries when they are traveling around Europe and to communicate with foreigners in their own countries.
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