It is 9:16 on the night before we leave on our second "annual"-ish (haha) trip to the Czech Republic.
I have been really busy studying for this Czech test I am supposed to take on November 7.
I am taking the distance A2 course through ústav jazykové a odborné přípravy Univerzita Karlova (I just call this thing ÚJOP but I am an American and partial to acronyms so...).
It was not clear (to me) when I signed up for the class that the entire portal would not be available through the whole summer; I stupidly thought it would just be the professors would not be available, and guess what, I was wrong.
We had previously booked flights for the Czech Republic around my birthday (Nov. 5). Then I decided to go this academia route, and was like, "ooh! I will take the test in person when we are there! I'll have LOTS of time to finish this course!"
Well, later I realized my mistake.
So I studied some on my own over the summer, but mostly I had some really horrible, painful, miserable health problems, which fortunately are pretty much as resolved as I ever could hope them to be.
Basically, I found myself with 1 1/2 months to complete a 5 month course. And although this was obviously not very well planned on my part, I can honestly say I enjoyed the course. It helped me A LOT. For one, the format was very, very helpful for me personally. Lots of instant feedback, which, though, not from a human, made it totally possible for me to indulge in guilt-free study binging. I mean, no humans to worry about, "oh, what a crazy šprtka. Freak of nature. I don't want to be her friend." hahaha
To pass the test, I have to get 60% right. I *think* I will at least pass, but even if I don't, this entire experience was very valuable to me. At least I keep telling myself that!
I feel like "a new era" of my Czech learning will start after I return home on November 11. I intend to continue in ÚJOP's B1 class. I don't really know if they have a B2 level. But to be honest, I might need to stay in this A2 world for a while longer. I have some great ideas for continuing to study Czech but I am not really allowed think about them at the moment - have to go finish packing, and then I have to direct my precious, limited Czech time towards cramming for this test. But here is a sneak peak at what is in store.
I intentionally read Bylo nás pět in English and Czech side by side. Last night I was doing a TON of laundry, and I caught up in my Czech listening to the part where I am at in English. But I didn't want to stop, because I mostly understood what was happening! So I continued to listen, and now I am about 30 minutes away from the end of the book. I know there is a lot I am missing, but there is also a LOT that I am getting, and that includes some of the themes, flavor, humor, and more difficult to access things. What I miss are some specific very, very briefly mentioned details that are highly vocabulary dependent.
But wow. WOW. It is a huge feeling of accomplishment. I imagine it will be jubilantly triumphant tomorrow, when I finish reading this, the first book I will have ever read all the way through. That is, listened to.
Yeah, my skills lie squarely in this order (best to worst):
writing conversation (so...texting)
Writing is definitely the most difficult. Very, very normal.
I have a huge backlog of posts to, well, post. I will probably find time to do that when we come back mid-November.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Jaký je můj pracovní den?
Jsem žena v domácnosti. Mám čtyři děti: Jane, Dan, John, a Cora. Cora je nejmladší, a jsou ji dva roky.
Probouzím ráno přibližně šesti a půl hodin. Vstávám, oblékám se, čistím si zuby, a jít běhat. Můj manžel snídá s dětmi, když běhám. Líbám je, a rozloučím se jich, když nastoupí do autobusu. Potom udělám stejně manželovi, když odchází do práce. Potom snídám. Babička jde u mne, mluvíme, a vzala Coru se sebou. Někdy nakupuju nebu udělám(?) pochůzky, potom jdu do yogy. Vrátím se domu, a píšu.
Co píšu? Hodně věcí. Já a můj kamarád Lukáš v Kralupě píšeme spolu knihu od předmětu českých pozemkových knih a jak používáme jich pro genealogii. Mimochodem, proto musím se učit češtinu. Bez češtiny, jsem úplně omezená, a nejen za přepisech, ale stejně protože hodně knih od české historie existují jenom česky a ne anglicky. Jestli chci opravdu rozumět své předky, musím umět česky, i když je to velmi těžký pro mě.
Tak. Píšu. Zavolám na skypu s českými kamarády. Studuji češtinu.
A když se vrátí mojí děti, změní znovu do maminky v domácnosti. Udělám mnoho nudných prací (třeba...prádlo), a také hraju se s dětmi. Napřiklad teď, už vrátili se doma, a musím jich dát něco na svačinu, potom jedeme do knihovny, jestli můžeme najít každé knihovnické knihy. Pochybuji, že je to možné, ale uvidíme. Ahoj!
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Joe a Anežka
Přistěhoval se můj prapradědeček Josef Jan Vašíček do Texasu, když bylo mu 16 let.
On byl nejmladší syn Vašíčkových.
A nikdy neviděl své rodiče, poté co odešel. Myslím si, že je to velmi smutné.
Protože byl časný přistěhovalec, a také byl podnikatel, proto často najal další Čechy. Trvají nějaké příběhy, jak on využil něj, a jaké byli hloupé a naivní přistěhovalci.
Děda Joe řekl: “Dejte vodu do auta.”
Takže…oni ji nalili na sedadla auta, a ne do chladiče.
Děda Joe řekl: “Zasaďte to na délku motyky od sebe.”
[Already you can see the influence of English in my grandfather’s mind: a Czech would understand this to mean the length of the hoe’s stick, not its head. But in English it is ambiguous, and from the context you can tell it meant the head.]
Takže oni se zasadili celém délku motyky.
Když spolu večeřeli, žena Dědy Joa (babička Anežka Štefková z Trojanovic 281) řekla, “Jezte, máme plenty!”
Ale nic nejedli, jen čekali, a koukali, čekali, a koukali. Zdá se, že čekali, až přijde ten tajemný “plenty.”
Ty příběhy trvají u našem rodinné kultuře. Ale co mě zajímá (a také mě mrzí), je vidět na vlastní oči rozklad českého jazyka. Upřímně, co jsem vždycky slyšela, byla slova “estcha máma plenty.” Skrze toto psaní jsem pochopila, že to není žádné “estcha” ani “ještě”; to muselo být “jezte.”
Čeština nebude mi bránit za porozumění českým předkům, po kterém toužím. Obětovala bych téměř cokoliv, abych to uměla.
Často cítím se, jako kdyby moje osobnost byla jenom hromada trapnosti. Ale opravdu, obětuji všechnu svou pýchu pro ten sen, a to zahrnuje každé osobní selhání, i moji trapnost. Doufám, že jednoho dne se setkám s dalšími lidmi, kteří mají stejný sen: pochopit naše Čechy.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
I have so much energy for studying Czech. It is really something I enjoy doing, and it has brought me a lot of joy in my life.
I know myself very well: relationships are really important to me. I don't believe it's possible to learn a language inside of a sterile box. It's all about communication. Communication = relationships.
It has been an interesting experiment: how to learn a language without a set curriculum or a professional teacher. It has involved making friends with people who live 7 hours ahead of me. I have really enjoyed it, and I
think know that my collaborators have as well.
I worry that my obsessive nature has, might, or could overpower my efforts. I also don't want to become too clingy on my collaborators. After all, this little world I have created isn't just about teacher-student relationships, but real (albeit online) friendships. Navigating mixed-gender and mixed-culture friendships has been a huge challenge for me, though one that is worth the effort to succeed. It would be a waste of words to try to explain what navigating this awkward learning curve has been like for me. Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot, and not just about Czech.
I think that in order to really succeed though, need to take a brief pause in my sprint.
So far, I have only had 1 or 2 weeks "off" from my Czech studies: once when we went to Disney World, and maybe one other brief time. This really has been a "sprint." I would estimate that I spend about 3-4+ hours per day intensely focused on my Czech.
It's not really fair to do that while my kids are on summer vacation.
I came to a conclusion about 2 weeks ago when I started realizing that my relationships with these people were more valuable and important to me than the tutoring/studying/learning that I get out of them: it really isn't fair for me to expect any person to match me in my obsessive interest and drive to learn. Maybe I'm like this hyperactive puppy dog running around tirelessly catching and retrieving thousands of balls, and my owner (or the owner's family) eventually gets totally sick of it. Except, I worry that I might also be the dog-owner/ball-thrower too; I'm not sure, because I haven't gotten sick of it yet (though my family is a bit jealous of my time). I don't want to find out at what point that threshold is. My breaking point, the point at which I would decide to leave Czech forever. Of course I never want to discover what that is.
So I decided to change my language learning strategy in a few key ways:
- I decided to enroll in Charles University's online language center! I placed into level A2, which is really exciting to me. Much more about this later, I'm sure; their summer break is from July 3-September 10.
- I decided that after I complete that language learning portal thingy, maybe I will continue to study Czech in some kind of degree program somewhere, if it's even possible. That seems like very far in the future. But maybe it's not actually as far as it seems, and I like to dream big.
- I decided I'm going to take a short break from almost all of my Czech studies. I will still continue to read my scriptures in Czech, and we'll see: it's very possible I might not be able to hold myself back from everything. But I will stop some of my most aggressive efforts to skype every day, and read and write every day.
- I'm currently looking at a return date of around August 23. This is when my kids go back to school.
- When I return, I will try to find some new collaborators, while probably also keeping the old ones. We will see how that goes.
I have one last short piece of writing which I am working on, which I would like to share before going away for a while, so stay tuned.
I promise that I will return, and when I do, I will probably be even more energetic and excited about Czech than before!
Final note: I am so grateful for all the work and sacrifice my collaborators have made to help me achieve my dream of learning the language and culture of my beloved ancestors. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I couldn't have made it this far without you. I can't wait to pick this up again in a few weeks, and I hope to see you there! :-)