A Bit Of An Explanation

I am not a professional. Not anywhere near it. But I like to think that some little observations I have about language and the social construction of it are worthwhile.

Some of these notes were originally written for acquaintances with no linguistic experience whatsoever, so please be patient through the explanations of basic concepts, and the simplistic tone.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An Excellent Tool For Beginners Studying Czech

Lately, thanks largely to my growing obsession with the musical Drákula, I've become curious about the Czech language. Other than that one musical, I haven't looked into it much. However, I have studied bits of Polish, and listen to quite a bit of Russian, so I reckoned they couldn't be too far off, what with the closeness of Slavonic languages in general.

Thanks to the ever-amazing treasury of information that is Omniglot, I found a perfect new site for people who just want to learn some incredibly basic Czech: Games at Digital Dialects. It contains six games that teach you basic vocabulary - Numbers, survival greetings, colors, and the calendar.

The game goes a little differently depending on which one you're playing, but they follow a basic formula: You're shown a short list of vocabulary words that you'll use in the game, with their English equivalents. You can study them for as long as you want. If you're like me, you may want to write them down - both as a "cheat sheet" to use in emergencies, and to study later if you want to pursue the language. Then, the game starts.

I first played the numbers games (1-12, 13-20, and 10-100). This is probably the only time in history that I will say I actually enjoyed doing math. First, you do addition. You'll be given a problem like Čtrnáct + Tři, and a small list of possible answers (so it's multiple choice, in a way). You then choose the number that's the correct answer (in this case, 14 + 3 is 17, so the answer would be Sedmnáct). You're timed for each problem, with the time getting shorter as you progress.

After a while of addition problems, it switches to subtraction (don't worry, you never have to do multiplication or division!).

My personal favorite game was the colors. It gives you visual aids, which normally don't help me in learning, but worked here for association. This plays a little differently than the number games, so I would recommend you play it yourself to find out.

Now, I walked into this knowing not one word of Czech. And in the first half of the first game I played, I was failing pretty miserably - but by the end of that game I was doing much better. And I did excellently in the next game. By the third, I was kicking some vocabularies' asses. It was enjoyable, but most of all, really damn helpful. I can now recognize numbers up to 20, the basic color wheel, and basic greetings.

And, because I am a hopeless nerd, that gives me a sense of satisfaction beyond description.

So yes, I recommend these games for everyone who hasn't ever considered Czech as a language to learn. They're what language memory tools should be - easy, helpful, and fun.

Next I'll write up some of my initial observations, conjectures, and opinions about Czech. Remember, I love to run my mouth about things I know very little about.

1 comment:

  1. What a cool site--I've learned colors in Czech! Although since it's Slavic, adjectives are most likely declined...