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Czech language in the level of “není žadný nic”

My life-changing journey to Czech republic started 4 months ago when on 13th of March I already woke up in Brno, opened my window and understood that the following year the street in front of my eyes and my little room on the roof of the house will be the most desired destination for me when I would like to have rest of the crazy days or just want to have a cup of hot chocolate in my private territory: shortly that was my new home for the coming year (and still it is). And I am still unmeasurably happy every time to wake up in the same room and feel myself home…IMG_9935

In contrast to all my mega positive expectations from Czech republic and the people here and my eagerness to get into the spirit of this amazing country, my Czech language was on the level  that is perfectly described as ZERO!!! I was smart enough to learn “ahoj”  and “jak se mas?” very fast but on that very interesting point my vocabulary was over.

Then with the best Czech teacher that I could ever imagine Petr Gal started my Czech lessons that I was waiting with so much impatience and my level of happiness in one point was measured with my achievements in Czech language: I wanted to know all at once, but somehow I was staying more or less on the same place, until…

Until one day when I was doing the most responsible task of  copy-pasting the contacts from the paper list to the office blue phone’s digital memory came Kristina Studena, the wonderful person who actually have given me the opportunity to be here by simply choosing me as a volunteer. Unexpectedly for me she started to talk to me not in English but in Czech!!! I literally HAD TO understand what she was telling because she on purpose didn’t translate anything. I felt myself really “not in my plate” and a bit ashamed of my bad Czech not enough even to understand the basic questions that she was asking not even taking into account that it was my first or second week here.

And… Oh, Gods, oh, Zeus!!! A sacral wisdom opened to me: I need to ask everyone to start talking to me in Czech even if it will be hard both for me and for them. I shared my wisdom with Petya and already on the next day in the office Jana was the first person that started to talk to me in Czech. The others were also trying though I can imagine how annoying for them it could be to talk really slowly (one thing that is not typical to Czech people at all) and waiting for any kind of understanding reaction from me and keep on explaining and repeating every single and simple word to me. And I am so thankful to them for their kind attitude and willingness to help…

I started a very catchy process of feeling the free boxes of my brain with Czech words, Czech expressions, Czech gestures, Czech thoughts, Czech everything (except knedliks). I can’t describe the stream of the energy that was coming to me while “becoming Czech”… But still the best motivation for me was the reaction and the estimation of the people that were amazed in every level of my Czech “wow! For 4 weeks you know so good Czech”, “wow! For 2 month you know so good Czech”, “wow! For 3 month you know so good Czech” and the way they were feeling themselves fine that some girl from somewhere from Armenia loves their language so much that learned that fast and is really interested in improving it. I was feeling how they were enjoying my talks in Czech and no surprises, the greatest part was when I was making mistakes and the people where correcting them with the kindest forgiving laugh.

Tomas Klus! I know sounds funny but some of the expressions and words that I have learned I am thankful to this singer. I started to listen to his songs in order to know at least some Czech songs to sing because come on I am in Czech Republic!!! The way I started to listen to his music was that I asked one of our girls from the on-arrival Anina to give me a list of Czech singers or groups that I could most probably like and enjoy listening to and from the list that she wrote down for me his name I liked the most so I googled his songs. Later it turned out that he is the number one for the rather big part of Czech girls, so I wasn’t mistaken (but telling the truth the men almost always are responding negatively about him and his art, quite understandably ;)). Due to this guy ‘s songs I spread so much joy among Czech people because even those who in average life don’t like him at all, still when I am singing become joyful and start to laugh, and telling the truth that means to me really much…


In order not to be very boring in my story about my Czech learning process I will skip the part of willy-nilly talking with kids in Czech in Cejkovice and Hodonin when they didn’t care that I can’t speak good Czech and kept on asking me questions and telling about their school,


talking with drunk Rostya about the meaning of life the whole way from Prague to Brno,


the undeniably perfect opportunity of listening and partly learning Czech traditional songs during the hody in Luzice with the best coordinator in the whole universe Pavlina.


I will jump to the very recent event that me and Masha took part in: the camp of Beskydske senobrani, when apart of being in the wonderful mountains with more wonderful people I felt myself that in some point I feel myself really sure by speaking Czech and sometime while telling about something I can talk more than one or two sentences and during a more or less long conversation I can miss only some words that I don’t know how to say in Czech. BUT the happiest part for me is that with Masha we already started to talk in Czech even without noticing it and sometimes at least for me it becomes unusual to shift back to the English.


And now after this amazing camp I can proudly say that I reached the level “není žadný nic” (there is not any nothing) in Czech and that means that I can create expressions that I know grammatically are wrong but at the same time it shows (at least to me) that I am getting into the language and can already improvise with it without being afraid of using the vocabulary that I know and go beyond the “borders” of correct Czech language.

To be continued… 😉

Shushan Harutyunyan

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