In 2012, the Czech Republic celebrated its 20th year as a nation. Once a cultural hodgepodge of foreign influence, the Czech Republic has evolved into a thrilling destination for historians and tourists alike. Mluvíte česky? If you are ready for the challenge, learning to speak Czech may be one of the most difficult and rewarding things you’ll ever do. Choose language programs in the Czech Republic and you’ll gain access to one of the fastest growing markets in Europe; not to mention, you can use your Czech to easily pick up other Slavic languages, like Russian, too.
If you want to find a language school in the Czech Republic, you have a few stunning cities to choose from. Discover the “city of a hundred spires” in Prague, get to the root of Czech drinking culture in Plzen, or start planning your future destination wedding in Czesky Krumlov, the choice is truly yours!
Prague is arguably the only major city on Earth where you can see a house dance. Once you dig in past the charm of the 13th century Old Town, you’ll find a lot more to love that can only be found in Prague; one of the most important being the city’s unique beer culture. The average Czech person consumes 148 liters of beer per year, 40 liters more than the number two country (Austria). Visit a local pub and say na zdraví to your friends (or nádraží if you’re looking to make a play on the name of the local railway station).
In 1842, Plzeň introduced the world to modern beer. Much of the world’s beer is produced as a pilsner, including the glocal brand, Plzeňský Prazdroj or Pilsner Urquell. This city is all about output, both in beer and industrial manufacturing. The city features an active student population, so there will be plenty to do outside of language courses, including hiking and biking.
Český Krumlov is the city every Czech person will tell you to visit once. An architectural hotspot, this small town offers stunning riverside views and homey vibes. While the peak summer season features the most ambient atmosphere, the quiet and calm winter months will show you a beautiful snow-covered landscape worth seeing. Like other cities in the Czech Republic, you’re sure to find adventure outside of the enchanting historic Old Town.
Language Study in the Czech Republic
Language programs in the Czech Republic focus mainly on the Czech language. That being said, there are a variety of options for how you can tackle this fairly challenging language. If you want to experiment with other languages, it’s pretty to easy to find people who speak German, Slovak, Polish, and many other languages in the Czech Republic. One of the most powerful combinations you can put together is Russian and Czech, since these are very similar languages at the basic level and Russian has a lot of use outside of Europe.
Language schools in the Czech Republic typically focus on pronunciation very early on. Although you’ll be tripping over words like “Jiřího z Poděbrad” (a metro station), a rudimentary understanding of the alphabet will allow you to pronounce any Czech phrase like a champ.
Beyond the basics, you can explore the advanced aspects of the language in three major settings. Through a study abroad program dedicated to Czech language learning, you’ll get six to 12 months in the Czech Republic to learn the language and test your skills while traveling around to see different parts of the country. If you choose to study at a language school in the Czech Republic, you’ll gain the flexibility of a shorter course tailored to more practical language needs. Lastly, you can find a private tutor in the Czech Republic in order to have the most personal instruction and the most flexible price range.
If you’re looking for a really unique experience, volunteer to teach your language at a local university. Some local universities allow language students, and foreigners in general, to teach a class for a semester, which will give you better access to locals who know the slang you won’t be taught in a classroom.
Costs & Affordability
One of the most popular comments about the Czech Republic is how cheap everything is, and it’s absolutely right! The exchange rate is extremely favorable for those coming from countries that use USD or EUR. An average dinner in Prague might cost $5 to $6, with drinks included. Once you leave Prague, prices drop by a fair amount in every other major city, so you don’t need to try very hard to live on a tight budget during language study in the Czech Republic.
Most language programs in the Czech Republic won’t cover travel costs, but schools or program providers will often either help arrange or provide housing for students. Meals are usually only covered if students choose to stay with a host family. Overall, you can expect language programs in the Czech Republic to cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $20,000 per semester, depending on your choice of program.
To bring that cost down even more, check out all the scholarships that can be applied toward language study in the Czech Republic.
Accommodation & Visas
Beautiful. That’s what you’ll be thinking when you see your new pad. Prague, Plzeň, and Český Krumlov have an abundance of great architecture, so you’ll likely find yourself staying in a Neo-Gothic or Baroque-style place, even outside of the city center. It’s generally in your best interest to live just outside the main Old Town areas as a student, since it will be close to nearly everything you’d want to do, but without major crowds. Dorms are likely to be based in renovated apartments; consequently, there aren’t a huge variety of housing options for language students in the Czech Republic. Homestays are a very attractive option for language students (dare we say you’ll have a bazillion and one opportunities to practice your language skills), as Czech families are always curious to learn more about other nations and excited to share their (infamously pessimistic) view of the Czech Republic.
In terms of visa requirements, be warned that processing a visa application can take up to two months, and may require you to have documents translated. It can be a pain (though it’s worth it of course), so make sure to plan ahead and stay on top of visa deadlines. Your visa will serve as a free pass to the Schengen area though, so feel free to travel through other countries in Europe with the Czech visa in your passport.
Check with your local consulate for up to date and accurate information regarding visas, and details can be found on GoAbroad’s Czech embassy directory too.
Benefits & Challenges
One of the benefits of language study in the Czech Republic (as opposed to studying Czech at home) is gaining access to the culture. Czech people live a more relaxed life in many ways, so you’ll be able to live life at a slower pace too. Although similar to many southern European countries, you’ll be able to find unique pleasure in the strong beer culture and local celebrations during any language program in the Czech Republic. As you work on your language skills, you’ll have even more access to all the country has to offer; you’ll be able to do anything from visiting spa-towns to checking out the plethora of strange museums.
The Czech Republic is pretty safe physically, but you’ll have to watch out for people looking to scam students and travelers, especially in bigger cities. Prague is known for pick-pockets (especially in Prague 1) and taxis have been known to hike up rates. Basic precautions will keep you perfectly safe, so watch where you keep your wallet and Uber is a cheap alternative to a taxi if you don’t think you can pull off the “I live here” vibe. That being said, many local merchants will respond positively to your being able to speak Czech. Be cautious like you would be in any new place, but don’t be afraid to leave the house and make friends.
Ultimately, the success of your language program in the Czech Republic is as much about what you bring as it is what you find. You’ll find a vibrant art community, inspired by hundreds of years of defenestrations, war, and conflict. You’ll find an exciting sports community when the national hockey team gets together for a tournament. At the same time, you’ll find pleasure in bringing your own talents. Volunteer to teach your native language or other unique skills. Join local entrepreneurs and create a business. The country is just over two decades removed from political upheaval (and subsequent split from Slovakia), so it’s in a complete growth mindset; embrace that, and see what you can add to the ever-changing Czech society.