Kurzy českého jazyka
Korea, Japan, Serbia, Poland, Russia, Venezuela, China, Vietnam, and the US of A were all represented in that classroom. Kurzy českého jazyka read the white printer paper bordering the white erase board—Czech language course. I could now decipher the meaning and the case of that phrase. Genetive case: here being used because the two latter words were describing the preceding noun. It would be the most accomplished I would feel in the total hour and 22 minutes of class.
Czech for Foreigners. Taught in the Czech Republic, by a Czech, to foreigners. Czech grammar explained in Czech. Czech vocabulary taught in Czech. As the minutes passed, I felt a renewed sympathy for the glazed eyes that met mine this morning while I ventured to use the word “endurance” with my students. Such a rich word. Other words paled as I tried to find suitable alternative. I could and would not. A brief explanation would have to do. In the back corner I saw the white flash of a student’s česko-anglický slovník, and felt a bit undermined. Yet I did the very same today. I had deciphered the words svatlý (saint) and svátek (holiday) but I would not have puzzled out zachránit (to save) without the trusty assistance of the same tiny dictionary that my students carry.
I had spurned such easy yielding personally during my first day in Czech class. I had bravely struggled to learn new Czech words described in new Czech words only by the gesticulating and intonation of my Czech teacher—whose name is still unknown. One particular word challenged me. Jasný. I should have known from the ý ending that it was an adjective, but I fooled myself into thinking it was a noun. I had properly interpreted the phrase to je jasné to mean “it’s clear” or “I understand”—the teacher had explained the phrase in Czech and then uttered “it’s clear” as he exhaled. If I had taken a logical nudge, I would realized just as accurately the meaning of jasný; instead, below the word in my notes I had written in precise, but timorous, strokes “sunset?”
I hope my students understood “endurance.” I had somewhat explained it when I was modeling an example answer to the question “whom do you admire” or “who is your hero?” I had chosen Dr. King as my sample hero before giving my students audience. As students gave their recitals, reporting everyone from a friend who actually took one of my students to the hospital when she fell unconscious to van Diesel, one student ventured to call her grandma her hero. Her grandma is cheerful and warm—even after a hard life including experiencing the war and communism in the Czech Republic. At that point, I could not restrain myself from really properly explaining the word “endurance.” I wrote it on the board beneath the word “patience.” I gave examples, citing long distance runners, political revolutionaries, and Dr. King; finally, I mentioned the student’s grandma, and I could tell to byl jasné.