Do Czechs speak English

New study: The good and bad news about German in the Czech Republic

1061 Czechs were asked by the opinion research center CVVM about their ability to communicate in the foreign language German. Region, size of the place of residence, gender, age and level of education - these were the parameters according to which research leader Petr Matějů distinguished in the representative survey. One result above all surprised him:

“Our investigation surprised us uncomfortably with the fact that even 20 years after the opening of the country, the Czechs are not open to closing themselves off to foreign languages. When we found that more than 55 percent of Czechs do not express themselves well in any foreign language, when we found that 23 percent of academically educated Czechs admit that they cannot express themselves well in any foreign language, I felt anxiety. "

If you talk to Czechs and ask if they speak German, you usually say: No, I can no longer do that. But it often turns out that the opposite is the case. Is the test result a Czech topos of modesty?

"No no. I think we have only come a short way since the time when foreign languages ​​became a certain - I would say - the most important component of lifestyle. A person who travels but cannot communicate is actually not traveling either. On the other hand, I have the feeling that the Czechs do not realize that one foreign language, English, is not enough on the job market - this also applies to the domestic job market, but especially to the European one. The second, regionally determined foreign language is extremely important. If we compare ourselves with countries like the Netherlands, with other Nordic countries, especially Finland, which opened up at the same time as we did - and today everyone there speaks fluent English and learn other foreign languages ​​- then we will probably need another ten years, until we get it in our head, ”explains Petr Matějů.

The second big surprise of the study is positive:

“German is clearly the second language that the Czechs want to learn, it bothers them that they can't. It is the second language that parents recommend to their children in school. The first, of course, is English. But 54 percent of the parents surveyed spoke out in favor of German. The whole cultural and economic conditions in our country make German potentially the second important foreign language. We have to tackle that and get started. "

Czechs want but can't?

“Czechs want but cannot. And when we asked why they couldn't, the most important reason they cited was that German was not or is not taught at the school in question. And if it did, then there was the fear that it would no longer be offered in the next school year or that it would not be offered in good quality. "

An excuse?

“The question really is how good the teaching is. But on the other hand - you know that - we Czechs are never at a loss for an excuse. We were concerned that the complicated German-Czech history played a role as a burden. But that is not the case. Almost 70 percent of the population say that is not a reason. And that's a good result. "

Germany is the largest and most important economic partner for the Czech Republic. There are around 4,000 companies with German participation in this country. The demand from these companies for workers with German skills is very high, explains Hannes Lachmann from the German-Czech Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

“Above all, advanced or very good knowledge is required here. In principle, at the moment it still looks like this - we have recorded this in our surveys - that the availability of German-speaking workers on the Czech labor market is still reasonably satisfactory. 42 percent of those questioned said it was satisfactory. However, also - and this shows how split it is already - 42 percent consider the situation to be inadequate or insufficient, if you see that in school grades. And only 16 percent think it is good. So you can say that at the moment the satisfaction prevails, but also not very much anymore. And the development - which of course also has something to do with current education policy - is going in the direction that German will be less available, also in the coming generations. And our member companies regret that very much. So we have this feedback not only in the investigation, but also very often in personal conversations that too little is being done, that German as a foreign language is promoted precisely for this business practice. "

Young Czechs often claim: I can get by with English everywhere, including Germany - which is certainly true. Does that also apply to the German-Czech labor market?

“Yes, so that you can muddle through with English, that's true. But I think, especially in the job market, especially in higher positions, in management positions, but also in middle management, it is no longer enough to get through, you have to communicate with the parent company, communicate with the customers. So it is not enough to be able to speak English, you have to have German too. "

Explains Hannes Lachmann, the spokesman for the German-Czech Chamber of Commerce.

When presenting the study "Foreign language skills of the Czech population: German compared to other languages" However, a special guest was also part of the party. The 24-year-old's face has flickered regularly on Czech cinema screens for six years: I spoke to Jiří Mádl about his experiences with German - in German of course:

Jiří Mádl, you are one of the best-known young actors here in the Czech Republic and at the same time you are a student at the Goethe Institute in Prague, and you are learning German - why?

"Why? Because I think I've forgotten all about it. I learned that at high school - eight years - and then I didn't use it for five years. So that's why I think I should brush it up a bit. "

You come from České Budějovice. How did you first come into contact with German - was that at school?

“We could choose whether we wanted 'Big English' and 'Little German' or 'Big German' and 'Little English'. And then I decided that I wanted to do 'great English', but my grandfather wanted me to speak German very well too. And then I had the opportunity to go to grammar school in Kremsmünster (Austria) - not for long, only for three months. But I tried that and I really liked it there. "

So the grandfather was also an important reason?

“Yes, because he speaks seven languages. So I had to. Because there was a little pressure from him. "(Laughs)

What about German - German actually doesn't have a really good reputation here in the Czech Republic. Most of them say: "Uh, that sounds so hard, we don't want to learn that". Most people only know these Nazi films, where it always says “fast, fast!” So ​​what about German - is that a language for you that really sounds so harsh and is therefore so uncomfortable?

“I'm not sure because German sounds pretty good to me. But it's true that, for example, my little brother didn't want to learn German because he didn't like it. I can understand that, but it doesn't apply to me. I think that's an excuse for the young people. I think the main reason is that it's difficult. "

So German is a difficult language?

"Yes I think so."

What about your job? You are an actor, a lot in movies on the screen, but also in the theater. Do you need German there?

“I have never used German in my job. But now I have an offer to act in a German film. You have to choose the actors now, but it is a great opportunity for me because there are not many actors here in the Czech Republic who speak German. "

Which film is that, can you already say that?

"I can not say it. And I don't know the title either. (laughs) But it should be a younger director than Germany. "

Then good luck with the casting. I think it will work - you speak German very well! I was happy, thank you!

"OK thanks."