I am Learning Czech and I Struggle with…
All students have their “favourite” word, phrase or a grammar topic in a foreign language. By “favourite” I actually mean the one they absolutely detest. There are some words that students cannot pronounce or just cannot remember no matter how hard they try.
All bilingual people experience the desperate feeling when they cannot say what they want and nearly everyone has tip-of-the-tongue moments when words suddenly go missing only to reappear seconds or minutes later. Do not worry! We have all been there. Since bilinguals know twice as many words as monolinguals, there’s more chance for tip-of-the-tongue experiences, says the author of Why your brain just can’t remember that word.
I have asked my students about the things they usually cannot remember or pronounce. Here are their answers:
“The word tired – is always a word I stumble over :)” G.C.
“I am mostly bad with days/months. For some reason I cannot get them to stick in my head. “ M.P.
“As almost all Czech words are so different from anything one may have learned before, it is not easy to make associations to help remember. I don’t have a problem with the lack of nouns in words. It is easy to learn to just say the letters one after the other. But I find words with letters such as č, ř, ž, especially when in the same word such as přeložit and horčiče, quite difficult to pronounce. There are much more difficult examples than these, but I have forgotten.” CH.J.
“I think the pronunciation of Czech is beautiful and enjoy trying all the difficult CH and R (with angry eyebrows).” G.C.
“I still sometimes struggle with pronouncing words that have multiple consonants grouped together within them.” D.G.
“R with háček is the hardest for me but I also struggle with anything 4-related i.e. čtyři, čtvrtek, čtrnáct etc but again it gets much easier with practice. There are also some words I really like though, like skřín (because it sounds so harsh), kroupy (because it sounds cute) and potřebuje (because it provides good tongue exercise!) J.E.
“Kadeřnictví, překladatel, and many words with r + háček.” A.F.
“Tužka/Taška. I always get them wrong.“ S.P.
“ I have the same problem in every language – some words just don’t stick, or need huge numbers of repeated attempts (August, Sep, Oct!). For Czech, it’s often abstract rather than concrete things, most recently personality characteristics, but also time expressions, conjunctions….” M.G.