The story of my Czech journey.
My name is Eliška and I was born and raised in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (yes, Prague!). I’ve been helping Czech learners to reach their goals in this amazing language since 2016.
My main focus is creating online materials to help Czech learners master the language and offering 1 on 1 online sessions and Czech language consultations.
In the online sessions, I'm not just teaching my clients Czech, I'm helping them overcome their fears and frustrations. Focusing both on the technicality of the language and the healthy mindset is vital. My ultimate goal is not to make you a perfect Czech speaker at the expense of being frustrated, I'm looking to help you be confident and content.
WHO AM I?
THE STORY OF MY.. CZECH
To be quite honest, I never thought I would ever start teaching Czech. Not because I didn't want to but simply because it never occurred to me as an option. One day I simply stumbled upon it and here I am—working with Czech learners has become my full time job and I absolutely love it!
Back in 2016 I was studying Czech-German Translating & Interpreting and Modern History at Charles University in Prague and also organizing educational tours to the Czech Republic for German nurses looking to understand how a foreign health system works. One day, my husband was asked by his employer to relocate to Mexico for work and we had a decision to make: leave everything behind us and move to the other part of world, or... yes, you guessed it right! We packed our stuff and left for Mexico. Wasn’t really that difficult of a decision, as you can imagine :)
When we got to Mexico I didn’t speak any Spanish but I knew German very well. So I decided to start teaching German online in a Swiss language school. Time went by and a year or so later, a crazy idea crossed my mind. Since I generally enjoyed working with learners, I thought to myself—what if I tried to help others learn my mother language?
One of my Czech Online Sessions. Mexico/Prague
So I started offering Czech sessions as a tutor first and soon found myself struggling to explain some grammar related questions from my clients. It blew me away. I realized that it was easier for me to explain German grammar because I’d learned it myself. Consciously. But when it came to explaining Czech grammar, as a native speaker, I was totally lost. I refused to give up. I wanted to be able to answer all those tricky yet clever questions my clients would ask me, so I bought myself some new books. I had to re-start studying Czech grammar and gain a deep understanding of concepts that I’ve been using my whole life without even knowing they existed. (Did you know Czech has a special verbal form to express an activity we do because we enjoy it? For example “plavat” means “to swim”. “Zaplavat si” also means “to swim” but this time it has a positive connotation and suggests that you enjoy doing it. How cool is that?!). I’ve started discovering how amazing my mother language is and decided to quit German and put all my focus on Czech.
CZECH IS COOL!
I also realized how few online resources for Czech learners there are and that’s why I decided to start a YouTube channel Because Czech is Cool!. I set myself a goal to use it to share my knowledge of Czech, tips and tricks and study materials in a fun and simple way and to show learners that Czech is not as complicated as we Czechs sometimes like to say.
Enjoying delicious flautas, Cholula, Mexico
At the time I was so astonished by Mexico and its culture that I would spend hours every day learning Spanish. And I was enjoying it so much! I wanted to understand what the “taquero” across the street offered, I wanted to be able to order my drink without additional sugar (if you’ve ever been to Mexico you know exactly what I mean!) and I wanted to have a fearless conversation with my friends in Spanish.
After I finished my initial 3-month online grammar course for beginners, I would spend at least 20 minutes every day studying flashcards on my phone followed by an activity that I enjoyed and/or found interesting. Like listening to Spanish podcasts and YouTube videos, watching my favourite series on Netflix in Spanish or reading Harry Potter in Spanish. Most importantly, I would have conversations with native speakers in Spanish and let them correct my mistakes. I had all the motivation and I was consistent. By the end of my first year in Mexico I managed to get to a conversational level with flying colors and I continued learning further. It felt crazy because it took me years of suffering before I could finally start speaking German and English (the first two foreign languages I was taught at school).
AND WHAT ABOUT SPANISH?
DID IT AFFECT MY TEACHING STYLE?
Absolutely! That was the moment I realized that the traditional educational system was just not working for me. So I decided to start experimenting and applying principles that actually worked for me in sessions with my clients as I was intrigued to see if they’d work for them too. And they did! Since then, those principles have become an essential part of my approach. They tend to vary depending on the individual client but the key is to make your learning system fun and enjoyable.
Driven by the progress I’d seen my clients make, I kept diving deeper into the language learning strategies and techniques as well as studying how our brains work to be able to grasp new information. I got lots of inspiration from how polyglots learn (fascinating people who speak 5, 10, 20 and more languages) and the community around Polygloti se nebiflují conference organized annually in Brno.
After almost three years living in Mexico we’ve returned back to my beautiful Prague. Taking advantage of being back, I’ve decided to take 2 courses that had further impact on the way I work with my clients. First, I took a training course for teachers of Czech at Charles University in Prague. Second, I got certified as a Neurolanguage Coach® by ELC.
A language coach supports the learner to learn a foreign language faster and more efficiently by applying information from neuroscience and using coaching principles. This amazing language learning philosophy was invented by Rachel Paling and I had an awesome training delivered by Eva Pěčková, who supported me in my belief that working with language learners is not just about “teaching” some grammar rules. What matters the most is the bigger picture, the goals, the motivation and the right mindset.
Neurolanguage Coaching ® training team, Prague
IN THE OFFLINE WORLD
Despite my sessions taking place exclusively online, I also organize occasional get-togethers for Czech learners. The goal of these events is simply to get together, speak Czech as much as possible, not to worry about making mistakes, have fun and learn from each other. Sometimes meeting a real person with similar objectives and challenges as yours can work like a charm in increasing your enthusiasm and motivation to keep learning further.