The sixth year of the European Day of Languages festival took place on 26 September 2023 at Hybernská Campus. This year, the festival focused on the languages of Central Europe. The European Commission Representation in the Czech Republic co-organised a speak-dating event, in which interested participants could try out lightning conversations with professional teachers of EU languages.
Participants of the speak-dating had the opportunity to try five of the twenty-eight languages on offer.As soon as the venue opened, queues of eager participants began to form at the tables, as they patiently waited for the hourglass to end the time slot allotted to their predecessors.Foreign visitors also headed to the table of the Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies of Charles University, where they could try out the Czech language in five-minute lessons.
"We had quite a mix of levels here," said the teachers Nikola Popperová and Eva Nováková. "We had a young lady who had only been in Prague for one day, but when leaving our class she could count to ten. There were also more advanced participants who spoke perfect Czech and we just chatted."
And what was the biggest challenge for most of the attendees? As one of the tasks, the bohemists prepared pictures with nouns that are connected with the verb to have, and as it turned out, the biggest problem for the visitors was the phrase mít rýmu (to have a cold). A guaranteed positive reaction from the students was also evoked by a word that no one can avoid in the summer, and that was ice cream.
A big surprise awaited Ms. Popperová, as her former student from Italy appeared among the visitors. Francesco liked the last year's European Day of Languages speak-dating so much that even though he no longer lives in Prague, he came this year just for this event. "I know Nicola very well, she was my first Czech teacher and thanks to her I have learned a lot of animal names today."
Stefan from Germany was also very satisfied with the Czech crash course. He had read about the event on the internet and decided to try something new. He explained in fluent Czech that he is now living in Czechia and wants to work as a German teacher, so from a professional perspective he was also interested in the method used in the speak-dating.
Thanks to the involvement of the European Commission Representation, this year's novelty was also the Language Pub Quiz, which tested the participants' knowledge of more than just the languages of Central Europe.
The European Day of Languages, celebrated on 26 September, was initiated by the Council of Europe in 2001. Its aim is to support the teaching of foreign languages while promoting language diversity and intercultural coexistence. In addition to major educational events across Europe, small-scale school and classroom projects take place on this day.
Teaching Czech as a foreign language is our core specialty, which we have been doing more than 70 years. We offer Czech courses of various lengths, intensities and focuses. We are the only institution in the Czech Republic with ALTE certification for internationally recognized exams in Czech as a foreign language. We organize Czech courses at all levels from A1 to C1.
Photo: ©Evropská komise/Ondřej Besperát.
Text: Petra Köppl