I want to learn Slovak

Posted on Nov 21, 2011

Learning Slovak has become a very popular language choice in London.
Often, however, it is not a choice but a necessity. And getting there can be extremely frustrating.

Most of the students who come to us and request private Slovak lessons have a Slovak partner or spouse. They often travel to Slovakia with them on a regular basis to visit friends and family and feel frustrated when unable to speak Slovak or even understand a few words. They experience the famous Slovak hospitality, fall in love with the country and come back determined to learn Slovak somehow.

There are of course several ways to try to learn Slovak but lets just name a few. These are the typical pathways which students go through before getting so frustrated that they feel forced to opt for a private Slovak tutor;

1) I want to learn Slovak and will do it my own, to surprise her/him!

OK, so lets go to Waterstone’s and buy all the books they have to help me learn Slovak. At home, open the books, start reading enthusiastically, close the first book after ten minutes in panic, go to make a coffee, come back, open another book, have a quick peek at page 154, shut it, throw it on the table, have a couple of palpitations, a cup of tea, a brisk walk, third attempt, open the big dictionary, try to read aloud two or three words, tongue tangles, can’t untangle it, books shoved under the bed, anxiety attack, sedatives, bed.
2) I want to learn Slovak from my partner so she/he will have to teach me!
Question: Darling, why do you weirdly change people’s names all the time when you speak? Can’t explain that darling, sorry. Why do you say this differently when you talk to your mom and when to your uncle? Sorry darling I can’t explain that. Why did he say..Sorry darling I don’t know ..Why?..sorry..W..? B…… Ooooh never mind!!!
3) I am not giving up. I want to learn Slovak. So I will join a class. (Oh, I can’t find one! Ah, here we go..)
Sporadically, Slovak classes are run across London but as well as with Czech, Slovak is not an easy language to learn in the first place and learning Slovak in a classroom full of other keen students doesn’t allow one to either follow, keep up with or to practice what has been taught, so progress is often very slow.
4) I want to learn Slovak and I try and try and I still can’t speak. WHY???? I am feeling quite frustrated now.

Because it is a difficult language and unless you are a linguist or exceptionally gifted for languages you will get lost doing this on your own.
 Asking a Slovak native speaker for help doesn’t get you very far either because again, they would have to know a lot more about the language than just being fluent. And even if they knew, how would they explain a concept to a person with English as a mother tongue where such concepts do not exist?

Eventually, all more or less frustrated students do give it a go and very quickly realise that the best and by far the most efficient way, which brings the fast and steady results, is to opt for private Slovak lessons.