Learning the language

Learning the Language

If one wants to live abroad for a longer time and integrate successfully, learning the local language to at least some level is a very good idea. It makes getting around easier, enables more relaxing relationships at the workplace and also with neighbours. The conversational level of Czech can be mastered sooner or later – depending on your willingness and opportunities to practice. Basic phrases are good to start with, which will be appreciated and make communication smoother. The phrase “I do not speak Czech, please” (= “Nemluvím česky prosím”) is the first step to understanding the situation for the communication partner. A small smile will get you more support than scared self defensive hands in front of your face or a helpless shoulder shrug.

General Info

When working for an international company your mother tongue or some international language may be able to cover the whole day. However, for going shopping, taking part in public life and making friends it is useful to learn some. This will win great respect of the local people who can be very supportive when they realise you have tried to learn at least a few phrases.  The tried-and-tested approach is to find good friends to speak with. Although Czech is known not to be the easiest language to learn, with such an approach many people have become very good in Czech even within a year!

Some workplaces offer language courses for their employees. Ask your manager or HR if it is also the case for your company. No matter what the result, you can also take advantage of free Czech lessons organized at the Centre for Integration of Foreigners.

There are also plenty of language schools offering Czech courses: summer school, short and intensive courses, half- to one-year-long and slow-paced, individual or group, and beginner to advanced, as well as many free online practice materials! A commercial half-year long group course costs about three thousand Czech crowns. In addition to language courses in a classroom you may make use of a number of free online course materials and resources. Watching Czech TV as a “background“ sound or watching the same film several times with, and later without, the subtitles works almost like a miracle. As far as kids, until the age of 11 it is enough if they can freely play with Czech kids. After a few months of a “silent period” the kids will acquire the language naturally without any special efforts or formal teaching. The bonus is that bilingual and trilingual people are able to learn more languages later. So what are the options?

Free Czech Language Courses
  • Center for Support of Integration of Foreigners (CPIC): The courses and textbooks are free of charge. There are a number of regular intensive groups starting from beginner levels to more advanced levels, as well as special individual courses. These courses are very popular and located in the centre of Ostrava (some courses are also run in other towns and cities of the region). Contact CPIC for more information.
Free Czech Online Courses and Practice Material

Any language course with a group and a teacher can be extended and supplemented. There are plenty of resources to work with and enjoy:

Or many videos on Youtube:


Language Schools
Informal Language Meetings
  • To practice your language skills you may come to see us in the Ostrava Expat Centre; some of our events are aimed at using non-native Czech informally. 
  • Also, there is a famous and numerous English Coffee Ostrava (Facebook group) organising a pay-your-drink informal meeting to practice English freely where you may meet other members of the international community who could practice Czech with you on other occasions.
  • Also, see British corner and American corner Ostrava in Communities & Clubs.
  • Na Doslech is a free online support group meeting in English. Join an open support group and share your feelings and thoughts with others. The service is completely free.
Exam for Permanent Residence

The Czech language exam is a necessary condition for granting permanent residence (for non-EU/non-EEA citizens). Communication level A2 is required, which, in addition to the residence permit, will help you to communicate in everyday life situations. Thanks to language skills, you will also be a much more independent person.

Who Needs to Take the Exam

People from third countries (outside the EU/EEA) who want a permanent residence permit must pass the Czech language exam if they apply for permanent residence after five years of living in the Czech Republic or have an EU Blue Card. There are a few exemptions.

Exam Information

You should study the information about the exam carefully. Don’t forget to read the questions thoroughly and remember that all questions will be in Czech. It is a good idea to take the practice test to know what the exam looks like and what is expected from you. If you are unable to pass the practice test, it is recommended to study more – it is better to study more than use up your free attempt and pay for another one. Download study materials – free here.

Registration

First, you have to register in person at the selected school that organizes the exam, or you can do so via the Online application. You must register no later than 14 days before the exam. Later registrations are not possible. If you cannot come to the exam, you must apologize at least 7 days before the exam, either personally or by written apology. Also, you have to come to the school and hand in your Voucher or pay for the exam no later than 7 days before the exam. When you take the exam for the first time, you can use a Voucher, which is issued at your request by an office of the Ministry of the Interior (Department for Asylum and Migration Policy).

You will have to fill in your full name – first name and surname, date of birth, citizenship, passport number, contact address in the Czech Republic (so that they know where to send your certificate), telephone and e-mail address. For registration, you need a valid passport and Voucher for a free Czech language exam. The exams take place once a month, either on Wednesday from 9 am or on Saturday from 9 am.

When passing the exam for the first time, you can use the Voucher for a free Czech language exam for the purposes of a permanent residence permit on the territory of the Czech Republic. However, if you don’t pass the exam and you have to repeat it, the price is CZK 2,500. It is a good idea to take the Practice Test so you know what to expect.

Exam Contents
  • What the exam looks like:

  • Reading exam (40 minutes) – you will receive a text with tasks and write your answers in the answer sheet;
  • Writing test (25 minutes) – you will receive tasks and write your answers in the answer sheet;
  • Pause;
  • Listening test (40 minutes) – you will receive a text with tasks, listen to the recording and answer accordingly in the answer sheet;
  • Oral exam (15 minutes) – you will answer questions and speak according to pictures.

To pass the exam, you have to get at least 42 points, which is 60% of all points. If you don’t reach the minimum, you will have to repeat the whole exam. If you pass, you will receive a Certificate of Knowledge of the Czech Language. You will receive the certificate either at the school, or it will be sent to you within 30 days after the exam date.

During the Exam

On the day of the exam, you must arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled start, because in case of late arrival, you can no longer take the exam that day. You will have to reschedule, but you will have to pay for another attempt. Don’t forget to bring your travel document for the registration. You will receive a card with a registration number. This card will have to be on the table during the whole exam along with your travel document. After completing the written part, you will be informed in which order you are going for the oral exam.

There are strict rules which have to be followed during the exam:

  • Keep in mind that during the exam, your belongings have to be in a place that is not close to you;
  • Your phone has to be switched off all the time;
  • You must not leave during the exam.

Please, read the full instructions very carefully here.

Czech Citizenship Exam

Acquiring Czech citizenship is the highest imaginary degree of foreigner’s integration into society. Foreign nationals (EU/non-EU) with a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic have the possibility to obtain citizenship by granting. You can apply for citizenship 5 years (3 years if EU citizen) after obtaining permanent residence.

Who Needs to Take the Exam

The test must be taken by foreigners who want to obtain Czech citizenship and need to hand in:

1)      Communicative competence in the Czech language at the level of language competence B1 and

2)      Basic knowledge of the Czech constitutional system and basic understanding of Czech culture, society, geography and history.

Exam Information

You should study the information about the exam carefully. Don’t forget to read the questions thoroughly and remember that all questions will be in Czech. It is a good idea to take the interactive sample tests, see here and second here, so you know what the exam looks like and what is expected from you. Please, read the Rules and Organization of the exam as well as the exam Specifications (exam topics) very carefully. Download study materials – free here and here.

Registration

If you want to take the exam, you can register on this website or you can do it in person at an exam center. Registration must be done no later than 14 days before the exam.

You can take both parts of the exam on the same day, or you can take them separately.

Both parts of the exam are paid separately. Current prices can be found here. The exam fee must be paid no later than 7 days before the exam. You have to bring proof of payment with you on the day of the exam.

Before the Exam

After filling in the online application, you will be informed by email about the location of the exam. You have to arrive at least 30 minutes before the beginning of the exam. The last registration is made 5 minutes before the start.

During the registration process, your identity will be checked according to your valid, internationally recognized travel document (i.e. passport) and a document stating your place of permanent residence. Your proof of payment will be checked as well. Then you will receive a code and an identification bracelet.

Remember that only those who take the exam are allowed to enter the building. You must not leave the exam center until the end of the written part of the exam.

Exam Contents

The Czech language exam consists of a written partCzech Life and Institutions Exam”, which tests the level of your communicative competence. This part is subdivided into reading, listening, writing and speaking. The second part, “Czech Language Exam”, is a spoken exam that is recorded.

To pass the exam, you have to get at least 60% of each part.

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