Students of Czech language - back for the 48th year running

Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague

Every summer hundreds of people come to the Czech Republic to study Czech culture, history, film, politics, and even agriculture, most common of course is to learn the Czech language. The 48th consecutive Summer School of Slavonic Studies organized by the Department of Bohemian Studies at Charles University has just begun.

The summer school, which was originally founded in the early 1900s but has only been able to run non-stop since 1958. This year there are 213 students from 37 countries. Most of students come from Europe and North America though a fair number have also come from as far a field as South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

After the first day of classes I stopped by the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University to talk with students about what brings them to the summer school this year. They shared why they're learning Czech and what they find the most fun about learning it.

"In America I'm Maria Kohak, here I'm Maria Kohakova. I'm a nurse, cardiac, and I'm from Boston, Massachusetts. My father's a professor here at Charles University, which is why I'm here to learn his language. The most fun is the songs and things, I'm looking forward to that kind of stuff."

"I'm from France. I lived in Prague some years ago. It was very hard to study then, I was working. Now I have free time in the summer, and I decided to come to Prague for one month and to improve my Czech. I think it's most fun to be in the country of the language that we're learning. It's more fun to be here and use the language everyday after the courses, in the afternoons, in the evenings, in the streets."

"My name's Tim, and I'm from Brussels. I'm from England but I live in Brussels. I'm at the Council of the European Union, and I'm learning Czech for my job, it's a wonderful language."

"I'm from Germany from Heidelberg. I've been here several times before just for a short visit. I'm really excited about it because I have now idea how this summer school will take place, and everybody's speaking really fast for me."

"I'm from New Jersey. I sing professionally and sometimes I sing in Czech. I do sometimes teach my children Czech songs but they don't really need to know them, it's just for fun!"

The students of Summer School of Slavonic Studies
"My name is Erika and I'm from Bern, Switzerland. My husband was Czech, now he died. He was from Czechoslovakia, and we were married, we knew each other for thirty years. I have always been studying Czech but now I wanted to really study it well and that's why I'm here. My favourite part about learning Czech, is languages. I like languages. It's the only Slavic language I know, and it's very...for me it's special."

As you can tell the summer school attracts more than just your typical student. People from different backgrounds and experiences come to study Czech.

Regardless of proficiency all students have five hours of Czech lessons daily with additional lectures on Czech culture, history and literature, as well as the option of learning or improving English, German, French, and Russian. Evenings in Prague always offer something to do whether to see a film, attend a concert or speak Czech in a pub. On weekends all the students have the opportunity to go on short trips around the Czech Republic. The school runs until the end of August.