The 9 Best Books to Learn Czech the Right Way

Gardenia Reynoso Published on May 11, 2023
Best books to learn Czech

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If you want to speak Czech, there are many resources available, and choosing the right one can be a tedious process. Studying with a book is a simple, yet effective, way to learn Czech. To help you out, I researched and compared the best Czech books available. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, there’s a book on this list that will help you learn Czech efficiently.

As one of the most spoken European languages, Czech is a gateway to the rich heritage of the Czech Republic, also known as Czechia. By learning Czech, you can better appreciate the works of famous Czech writers like Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera in their original language. Knowing the language also provides a unique insight into Czech customs, traditions, and humor, allowing learners to create a connection to the Czech people and their culture.

How Long Will It Take You To Learn Czech?​

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How We Picked and Tested the Best Czech Books

For any language learning products we’ve tested or researched, we follow a strict testing methodology to make sure our experts make the same considerations. Here are the factors we looked at when testing Czech books specifically:

  • Structure and Topics: We examined how each book is laid out and if it follows a structure that promotes the learning and retention of the language. We also check if the book is effective for the level and skills it aims to teach.
  • Quality of Content: We looked at several chapters of the book to determine the quality of the content, looking to see if the explanations and examples are clear and effective. We took into account any additional material included that aids in learning the language.
  • Value for Money: We compared the price of the book with the previous factors to see if it’s a good value for the cost.

Our Top Picks to Help You Learn Czech

Below are the nine best books to learn Czech. Scroll down to learn more about each one.

Best Overall Czech BookComplete Czech
Best for SpeakingColloquial Czech
Best for GrammarCzech: An Essential Grammar
Best for VocabularyCzech Frequency Dictionary
Best for Czech ImmersionCzech Step by Step
Best for ReadingFirst Czech Reader for Beginners
Best for PracticalityCzech-English/English-Czech Practical Dictionary
Best for TravelLonely Planet Czech Phrasebook & Dictionary
Best for Learners with Limited TimeCestina Expres

Complete Czech

Best Overall Czech Book

Complete Czech is the best overall book to learn Czech because it offers a comprehensive approach to learning the language. It focuses on real-life situations and dialogues such as using the phone or talking about work. If you don’t have much time or just want to get your feet wet, there are one, five, and ten-minute explanations of the key principles. The book is organized in thematic units that emphasize communication by teaching the grammar and vocabulary necessary to communicate quickly.

The book is one of the most comprehensive options available for learning Czech and is a good choice if you only want to use one book. The lessons integrate all language skills such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The audio recordings of the dialogues help you to develop your speaking and pronunciation, skills that are often overlooked by other books. I like that each unit begins with clear objectives so I know what to focus on. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Develop all skills necessary to learn and speak Czech
  • Focuses on Czech for communication so you’ll be able to converse in everyday situations
  • Additional online material such as audio and practice tests keep you engaged and provide different formats for studying

Colloquial Czech

Best for Speaking

Colloquial Czech is the best book for speaking because it focuses on developing practical communication skills. Each unit is centered around authentic dialogues that cover real-life scenarios, such as shopping, tourism, and family. Each unit begins with a dialogue and is followed by grammar and vocabulary explanations that explain what was said in the dialogue. There are available audio tracks for all dialogues and a detailed pronunciation guide that breaks down specific sounds, like voiced and voiceless consonants, to help you learn the correct pronunciation of the language.

This book is well-organized and user-friendly, making it ideal for self-study or as a supplement to other language courses. It covers grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, and has practice exercises and cultural notes, so it’s a thorough resource. The clear explanations of grammar topics, bilingual glossaries, and practice exercises help to clarify any doubts you might have. I recommend this book for beginner learners because it focuses primarily on the basics. You can see if Colloquial Czech is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Practical dialogues covering real-life situations will help you learn to communicate in Czech effectively
  • Clear grammar explanations in English so you’ll understand difficult topics
  • Practice exercises with answer key, grammar review, and bilingual glossaries help you learn independently

Czech: An Essential Grammar

Best for Grammar

Czech: An Essential Grammar is the best choice for learning Czech grammar because it breaks down complex grammar topics with clear and concise explanations. The book is organized by parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs) and tackles topics like cases, genders of nouns, and the difference between formal and informal speech. It’s a valuable resource for learners of all levels but will be more useful for intermediate to advanced learners. Although it’s primarily a reference book, it can also be used for self-study or as a supplement to other Czech language courses.

The best part of the book is its thorough and systematic explanations of Czech grammar rules. I like that the book focuses on the contemporary use of the language with modern examples. It even addresses 21st-century loan words from English. Additionally, it provides insights into the historical and cultural aspects of the Czech language, which can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the language. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Focus on contemporary use of the language so you won’t study outdated examples
  • Concise explanations in English to make sure you understand the topic
  • It can be used as a reference to look up grammar questions

Czech Frequency Dictionary

Best for Vocabulary

Czech Frequency Dictionary is the best resource to learn necessary Czech vocabulary because it teaches the most commonly used words and phrases. It includes the 2,500 most frequently used words along with their translations. Each word also has parallel text example sentences to show you how to use the word in context. The examples are a mix of formal and informal language, as well as examples that you might hear in both written and spoken Czech. This book is best for beginner and intermediate learners because it includes vocabulary from CEFR levels A1 to B1.

Each entry is marked as formal or colloquial, which is helpful to know in what context to use the word. I like that the words are listed in frequency order as well as alphabetically so the book can be used as a dictionary, as well. This book can help you learn new words, but it’s primarily a reference tool and does not offer a structured learning program. It’s best to use it in combination with other resources that provide grammar instruction and practice activities. You can see if the book is a good choice for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn the most commonly used Czech words to become conversational
  • Example sentences for each word in Czech and English help you learn the word in context
  • The phonetic spellings show you how to pronounce the words while you study vocabulary

Czech Step by Step

Best for Czech Immersion

Czech Step by Step is the best for immersion because it’s written completely in Czech without English translations. It’s a well-structured book that covers grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation in a systematic way. This book is suitable for beginners and intermediate learners and can be used for self-study or as part of a formal language course. The book contains more than 20 lessons, which cover topics like greetings, family, transportation, and food. Each lesson includes grammar explanations, vocabulary lists, dialogues, exercises, and cultural notes.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to complete beginners because it’s completely in Czech with no English translations. However, if you have some prior knowledge, learning through immersion can be advantageous and help you learn more naturally. This book is one of the more expensive options out there but is a complete resource that provides everything you need to study in one book. The color-coded genders in the grammar explanations and six pages of exercises for each unit help you study by yourself. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Practical topics show how to communicate in everyday situations
  • Color-coded genders in the grammar explanations are a helpful way to explain this difficult topic
  • Complete immersion in the Czech language helps you learn naturally

First Czech Reader is the best way to begin reading in Czech because it only uses words that are presented at the beginning of the story or have been introduced in previous stories. This way, you can begin to read but won’t get overwhelmed by too many unfamiliar words. Additionally, the parallel Czech and English text helps you check your understanding and gain confidence in your reading abilities. The beginning stories start with simple subjects, like people, animals, and everyday objects, and become more challenging as your vocabulary increases.

There are also accompanying audio tracks available online to help improve listening and pronunciation skills. I appreciate that you can easily understand what is being said because the speaker on the recordings does a great job of repeating each word in the vocabulary at the beginning of the audio session and speaks slowly with emphasis on the syllables. Additionally, there’s a useful pronunciation guide that identifies an “English Approximate” sound, like á = the a in father so you know how to pronounce the word as you read. You can see if this book is right for you here.

 Key Benefits

  • Eases you into reading the Czech language with parallel Czech-English texts
  • Each sentence only uses words explained in previous chapters so you won’t waste time looking up unknown words
  • Funny stories about real-life events keep you interested while studying

The Czech-English/English-Czech Practical Dictionary is best for practicality because it’s a two-way dictionary so you can look up how to say an English word in Czech and vice versa. It’s a useful reference because it has 42,000+ entries with information on pronunciation, case endings, and gender. This resource can help you look up vocabulary and basic grammar topics with ease. However, I think it’s more useful for English-speaking Czech learners than for Czech-speaking English learners.

The dictionary is well-organized and easy to navigate, with entries listed in alphabetical order and accompanied by pronunciation guides. Additionally, the inclusion of grammatical information, such as gender and plural forms, is helpful so you can learn elements of Czech grammar while looking up words. One limitation is that the dictionary does not provide example sentences or idiomatic expressions, which can be necessary for understanding the context of the word. You can learn more about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Well-organized so it’s easy to find what you are looking for in the 42,000+ entries 
  • Inclusion of grammar points so you know the gender and plural form
  • The pronunciation guides help you to say the words correctly

Lonely Planet Czech Phrasebook & Dictionary is the best resource for travelers because it’s compact and contains essential Czech words and phrases to help navigate the country. The phrasebook contains over 3,500 phrases and expressions, grouped into categories such as food, accommodation, and transportation. Some interesting topics include asking someone out, accepting or rejecting an invitation, and political/social issues.

This resource is particularly beneficial if you’re interested in developing speaking and listening skills for practical communication. I like Lonely Planet because it’s a well-established company known for its travel guides and tips, and the inclusion of cultural notes and how to avoid embarrassing situations make it useful for anyone visiting the country. The pocket size of the book is convenient as you can easily carry it with you. Overall, it’s an inexpensive resource that’s easy to toss into your suitcase before you travel. See what you think about the book here.

Key Benefits

  • Learn helpful words and phrases to facilitate communication
  • The pronunciation guide, cultural tips, and two-way dictionary make it one of the most comprehensive Czech phrasebooks available
  • Breaks down the words phonetically so you can pronounce the words correctly

Cestina Expres

Best for Learners with Limited Time

Cestina Expres is an excellent resource for beginners who want to learn basic Czech in a short amount of time. The book is designed for students who need to achieve basic proficiency for travel or work. Cestina Expres has seven lessons that cover essential topics, including introductions, directions, family, and more. The book uses a communicative approach that focuses on essential phrases and vocabulary to help you navigate everyday situations.

Cestina Expres is a practical and accessible resource for time-constrained learners. The book is organized into two parts. The first is more of a textbook that presents grammar in context, which helps you learn grammar rules in a natural way. This part is written entirely in Czech. The second part is a workbook with supplementary material that reinforces what you learned. This book is available in English, German, and Russian, so make sure you’re choosing the correct edition. I think this is an interesting mix of immersion and included guidance so you can make sure you understand. See if the book is right for you here.

Key Benefits

  • Czech coursebook with a workbook and supplementary material in English as well as other languages
  • Written completely in the Czech language for an immersive learning experience
  • Divided into 7 thematic units that help you cover the basics quickly

Other Czech Learning Books We Researched

While we’ve tested the books on this list, we also reviewed many more. Here are a couple more Czech books that didn’t make our top picks:

  • Czech Word Translation Book – This book is a useful guide for people who want a reference book for everyday topics while they’re traveling. With 400 words, it’s less comprehensive than other dictionaries and reference books included on this list.
  • My First Czech Book – This is a great option for young children who want to learn their first words in Czech. It’s designed for children aged 0-5, so older children might not get much benefit from using it.
  • Learn 10 Czech Words a Day for 7 Weeks – The concept is simple, study 10 new words for 7 weeks and you’ll know almost 500 of the most commonly used Czech words. An interesting concept, but this can be achieved with a more interactive tool like a Czech language app.

Why You Should Use Books for Learning Czech

Learning a new language can be a daunting task, and choosing the right resources is essential to achieving fluency. While there are many ways to learn Czech, books remain one of the most effective and comprehensive ways to learn. The primary reasons for using books include accessibility, in-depth explanations, and the development of reading skills. 

Books are readily available online or in stores, and many are designed specifically for language learners. These books often provide a well-structured curriculum that helps you progress in a systematic manner, ensuring that you build upon previous knowledge and acquire new skills at a steady pace. 

Additionally, books offer flexibility in terms of learning pace and style. Unlike classroom settings or online courses, books allow learners to progress at their own pace and revisit previous sections as needed. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for adult learners, who may have different learning styles and time constraints.

How To Use Books To Learn the Czech Language

If you are wondering how to learn Czech and maximize the benefits of using books, here are some practical tips:

1. Choose the right book: Select a book that matches your current proficiency level and learning goals. Beginners may benefit from books that focus on basic vocabulary and grammar, while more advanced learners may prefer books that explore complex language structures or literary works.

2. Set a study schedule: Establish a regular study schedule and allocate sufficient time for reading, reviewing, and practicing. Consistency is key for language learning, and setting aside dedicated study time can help you maintain motivation and progress.

3. Engage in active reading: Rather than passively reading the text, engage in active reading strategies such as underlining key points, taking notes, and summarizing key concepts.

4. Use other resources: While books are an excellent resource for learning Czech, it’s essential to supplement them with other learning materials such as language apps, podcasts, or exchange programs. These resources can help you achieve well-rounded language skills.

Best Books To Learn Czech: Final Thoughts

All of the resources mentioned in this article offer unique benefits for learners of the Czech language. These books cater to different learning preferences, covering grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and reading skills. You can choose the resources that best suit your needs and goals, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. You’ll be speaking Czech before you know it!

Best Books to Learn Czech: FAQ

What is the best book to learn Czech?

One of the best books to learn Czech is Complete Czech by David Short. Complete Czech offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers important aspects of the Czech language, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation skills. This comprehensive approach ensures that learners have a solid foundation in the language.

What is the best way to learn Czech?

When it comes to learning a new language, using a combination of methods is most effective. In addition to using a high-quality textbook, learners should also regularly practice listening and speaking. Listening to native speakers and attempting to communicate in Czech will help you to develop your listening comprehension and speaking abilities more rapidly.

Is it difficult to learn Czech?

The US Department of State considers Czech to be a hard language if English is your native language. Czech presents several challenges, such as complex grammar and pronunciation. But you can overcome these difficulties with regular practice and the use of effective learning strategies.

Try this fluency calculator so you can have a notion of how long will it take you to learn Czech.

Can I learn Czech in 3 months?

While it may be possible to achieve a basic level of conversational proficiency in Czech in three months, it’s important to recognize that language learning is a long-term process. The time required to become proficient in a language depends on factors such as study time and the quality of the learning material available. To become truly proficient in Czech, you’ll have to invest significant time and effort into your studies.

Gardenia Reynoso

Gardenia Reynoso is a content writer and translator from Lima, Peru. She loves connecting with people from other cultures and learning new languages. She had the opportunity to travel to different countries and received a scholarship to work and study in South Korea. She also enjoys dancing and playing the piano.

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