While the prospect of learning Czech (a language spoken by about 11 million people worldwide) may seem less than useful, not to mention rather difficult, you may find that there are several advantages to learning this ancient Slavic language apart from the general reasons for language acquisition. For business, anthropology, cultural studies, international politics, economics, development and related majors alike, learning Czech is actually highly relevant and opens up an exciting realm of possibilities for academic and career-related growth.
The Czech Republic has recently emerged from a half-century of turbulent political instability and unease, to become one of the most promising new economies in Eastern Europe. Because of this, the Czech Republic is quickly gaining the attention of the international business and finance communities, and is rapidly becoming one of the premier locations in the region for foreign investment, mergers and production. In addition, since the Czech Republic recently joined the European Union in May 2004, its foreign trading has greatly increased; as a result, Czech as well as foreign companies will be looking for people who understand Czech culture and can speak the language to facilitate trading between the country and the international community. Economics, business and development majors interested in pursuing further study or a career in Eastern Europe may find that learning Czech gains them unique access to this emerging market, giving them a distinct advantage over those who are depending solely on their English language skills.
The European Union’s recent addition of the Czech Republic also has important ramifications to students majoring in international politics. Since the EU is both a major international economic and political presence, students who have a firm grasp of both Czech and English will be in great demand as cultural and political liaisons.
If your interest tends more towards the humanities and cultural studies, an understanding of or fluency in Czech will aid your research and further exploration of Czech aid your research and further exploration of Czech culture tremendously. While you can get around quite easily only speaking English, speaking Czech allows you to access the Czech culture and people in a much more personal and significant way – Czechs identify very closely with their language, and are bound in a very tight-knit group by this commonality; even those interested in merely experiencing another culture will find that understanding and speaking Czech will facilitate a deeper and richer cultural experience.
In general, learning Czech or any foreign language is a valuable and highly desired skill. You will find that doing so even gives you a greater understanding of English, which has come to be a language that symbolizes cultural melding and exchange. The words “robot” and “pistol” originated from Czech and have now been integrated into English. Furthermore, in order for any type of true cultural, personal, academic or social exchange to occur, both parties must understand something of the other’s language. Therefore, learning Czech will make your entire study abroad experience in the Czech Republic more fruitful and meaningful.