Sunday, July 29, 2007

Czech language at the A2 level

A few days ago, our babysitter greeted me with the morning's news - foreigners wanting to get a long term residency permit were going to have to pass a language exam! She was aflutter with the news and I suggested that she'd have to add bureaucratic jargon to our day-to-day conversations, since that is what the stories said foreigners would be tested on. She thought that as Americans with conversational Czech, we'd have no problems passing the exam. Having been denied my visa last time I applied based on missing page numbers in the statement my health insurer mailed over, I doubted this leniency and started reading up on the subject.

The proposal seems to still be in discussion, but the tests would be based on Czech at the A2 level. The government has agreed that the tests would be free; lessons, not. A little digging found a book in pdf form called "Čeština jako cizí jazyk, Úroven A2" or "Czech as a Foreign Language, Grade A2" It is downloadable from the Ministry of Education and is a guideline for the European Union on how Czech at the A2 level is understood, taught and assessed. For anyone interested in taking the test, I hope this helps.

I scanned through the guide tonight and can assure you it covers grocery shopping and visiting embassies. Unfortunately, it lacks a discussion about the colloquialisms that truly make getting around the country an easier experience. I feel a bit sorry for the studious foreigners armed with their A2 lessons trying to understand the slang used by their fellow citizens (in stores, taxis, restaurants and even governmental agencies). But, in the end, we learn from our language failures and experiences and that may be what the people recommending the exam want foreigners settling in to be encouraged to go out and get.

9 comments:

tuckova said...

The woman in the picture on the cover of the book is clearly saying, "So I asked for eggs? And they gave me toilet paper? And I was like, 'No way am I ever going to learn this language!'" and the others are saying, "Seriously! Let me tell you about the time..."

SO GLAD I already have my long term stay.

Julia said...

Vejce and vajicko were my first searches in the manual. Only vejce turned up. The comparison should be tattooed on A2 teachers' foreheads (one of those sticker tattoos that come off after a week of washing ;-)!

christina said...

Germany is doing the same thing with foreigners who arrived after Jan 1, 2005. Anyone who plans to live in Germany long term has to take 630 hours of language and integration courses at €1 an hour and then pass a test to prove their ability. There seems to be some leeway as to who the rule applies to, though. There was also another controversial immgration reform passed this year requiring non-EU citizens who are married to residents of Germany but not yet in the country to learn German *before* they enter Germany. It's primarily aimed at Turkish nationals, people from countries not requiring a visa - U.S.A., Canada, Japan etc are exempt. Hmmm...

Karla said...

Well, I'll have to take a look at this. As might be expected, I have mixed feelings about the idea.

Julia said...

The test applies to anyone who wants the long term visa, which I think is fairer than what Germany seems to be doing. What I have issues with is its use as an assessment of a person's ability to get around and speak the language here. Of course, this may be because I prefer vocabulary to grammar, and live language to that found in a newspaper, but there you have it ;-).

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Hi Julia,

I popped over from Mausi's blog.

Sorry to post off-topic (I couldn't find an email addy for you on your blog), but we're currently voting on a date for the Meet-Up in Dresden. You're welcome to pop over to my blog Germany Doesn't Suck and put in your 2 cents (it doesn't matter if you're not in Germany).

I'll be back to read more of your blog soon (I've RSSed you).

J

Anonymous said...

I think a language that has many conjugations and declinations will always be a tough thing to get along with for foreigners. While you can survive in an English-speaking country knowing just pidgeon English, no such thing is possible in the Czech Rep, I am afraid.
Petr B
The Czech Daily Word
http://czechdaily.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

Recently I began attempting to learn a new language online, just to have something else to put on my CV, and I was amazed how many different types of language software there are available. In the end I decided to purchase some gear that would help me learn Spanish and it has been amazing, I can’t believe how quickly I am picking it all up! Going to give Russian a go next!