On Monday, Kelsey and I started Czech classes. It is a two week intensive course that happens for five hours a day. There are ten students in my class including me; nationalities include: Russian, Turkish, Italian, Syrian, Spanish and Polish. Our teacher is fantastic; she is very patient and quite funny! I'm enjoying myself.
First thing Monday morning we took an entrance exam. The instructions were in Czech, so needless to say Kelsey and I were put in Beginners I. At first I was upset, I mean I've been here for more than four months, my vocabulary is large (even if I can't string a sentence together that well) and I felt like I should at least be in Beginners II. I eventually got over it and realized that while I may know a few words, the grammar is a whole other story.
The first day commenced and there we were, all ten of us (Kelsey and I were the only students that have English as their first language-sounds crazy to learn a third language via your second language...). Everyone was quiet; Kelsey and I were the only ones speaking up. I felt like a bully, a know-it-all and after a break I decided maybe I shouldn't say all the answers. Slowly people began to speak up. We were asked to create small sentences like Jsem Američanka, nejsem Česka. I felt like a superstar, I didn't need to pay attention, I was whizzing through the exercises, working ahead and helping answer questions.
Reality hit yesterday though, we were past the verb conjugation and on the the fourth of the seventh (not to say that we've conquered four, but that we were working on the fourth) case. I've mentioned the cases in a previous blog entry, but I will briefly explain again. In English, proper nouns do not change; I am always Jessica. In Czech, nouns (any proper and non-proper alike) have seven cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative and instrumental) which means that the endings change depending on how the main subject is "performing" or being effected by verbs or other things in the sentence. Plus there are singular and plural, and gender (masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine and neutral) declinations of the seven cases. For example, the word the is the no matter what in English, but there are 18 ways to say the in Czech, and all are specific to what the pertains to in the sentence. Are you confused yet? My brain began to hurt at this point. We were using verbs, conjugating them and adding an adjective and noun. We then had to figure out which case to use, either first (nominative Jessica-Jesika) or if we used the forth (accusative Jessicu-Jesiku). I will spare you the rest of the details, but let's just say, I'm no longer a know-it-all and I no longer feel like a superstar. I'm a normal, struggling student trying to figure out why a country would subject its people to so many rules so that they might communicate to each other.
Tomorrow, the class is going out to eat together. Maybe then we can put our heads together to figure out if this really is the toughest language on earth to learn.
Here is an essay I wrote about my family for homework:
Jmenuju se Jessica. Je mi 23. Jsem vdaná. Můj manžel se jmenuje Kelsey. On je hezký a intelegentní. Ještě nemáme díté. Miluju ho.
Mám dva bratry a jednu sestru. Můj nejstarší bratr je mikrofon technik. Jmenuje se Joshua. Jeho dceru, se jmenuje Ellie. Je ještě malá. Můj druhý bratr je manažer, se jmenuje Jeremiah. Jeremiah je ženaty, jeho manželka se jmenuje Anna. Budou mít syna brzy, jeho jmenujo bude také Jeremiah. Poslední je moje sestra, která se jmenuje Jennifer. Je nejmladší. Je dobrá studentka. Je velmi Krásná. Jsme samé „J„.
Moje Maminka se jmenuje Conchita, ale líbí se jí jmenovat se Cindy. Pracuje pro Armadu Spásy. Můj otec se jmenuje Gilbert. Je řidič kamionu.
Mám velkou rodinu. Miluju svoji rodinu velmi moc, jsou nejlepší.