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Foreigners can now take Czech exam at MU

This year, Masaryk University became an official examination centre for the Czech as a Foreign Language exam, which foreigners need in order to obtain permanent residence in the Czech Republic. This makes it one of four places in the South Moravian Region where the exam can be taken.

MU Language Centre is now authorised to conduct the Czech as a Foreign Language exam.

Until now, the test could only be administered by language schools certified to conduct the state language examination. However, demand for the Czech language exam has long outstripped supply, so the National Institute for Education – a department of the Ministry of Education – contacted selected Czech universities to see if they would be willing to participate in administering Czech language tests to foreigners at the A2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). Foreigners must pass this test in order to be eligible for permanent residence in the Czech Republic, which they can apply for after five years in the country, although this may be different if the purpose of stay is for studies.

“My colleagues and I did not hesitate for too long, we more or less unanimously agreed that we wanted to go for it. We see it as a great opportunity to take our department a step further, especially since we have been teaching Czech as a foreign language for quite some time. We have been running a year-long intensive course in Czech for foreigners, as well as afternoon courses for international staff. And when the war in Ukraine started, we reacted quickly and opened a super-intensive summer Czech course for Ukrainian students. At that time we were teaching 18 groups of students,” says Alena Hradilová, director of the MU Language Centre, which is now authorised to conduct the Czech language exam.

According to Marta Holasová, the organiser of the exam, a lot of work and time has gone into making it possible for Masaryk University to hold the exam for foreigners. The Czech language exam is one of the most important exams and is subject to several levels of control. It is also a nationally standardised exam, which means that it is very difficult to prepare for, both for the organisers and the examiners.

“We prepared for the exam for several months. A total of seven of our examiners completed a 1.5-month e-learning course consisting of ten modules, each followed by a test. In this way, each of our examiners is trained for the role of examiner, interviewer, supervisor and evaluator, so that they can take on different roles on the board. In addition, we are currently training a further nine examiners to enable us to set up several examination boards in parallel. Of course, the organisers also had to be trained, as there are a number of strict rules associated with the examination,” explained Marta Holasová.

MU plans to hold the exam up to twice a month

Exam dates are set centrally by the National Institute for Education in Prague and are usually held twice a month, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The MU Language Centre plans to use both of these dates, although Wednesdays may sometimes be unavailable due to full capacity at MU, classroom occupancy and teacher workload.

Masaryk University held its first language exam on Saturday 11 November, when it tested the first group of candidates, most of whom passed the exam successfully. For the examination board, the day started at 7 a.m. when they received, checked and printed out the test materials sent by the National Institute for Education. All the candidates then went through the registration process in the presence of the immigration police, who were there to check their identities.

“Then came the exam itself, which consisted of a written and an oral part. In the written part, which took place in the morning, we tested reading, writing and listening skills. This was followed by the oral part, where we had a conversation with each candidate according to a precise script to test their Czech language skills. We finished around 7 p.m. and on Tuesday afternoon we checked the written part because the results have to be announced within nine days,” says Eva Složilová, an exam supervisor at the MU Language Centre, who believes that the exam was conducted in a professional manner.

One of the foreigners who took the exam at MU in November was Ivan Hriadil, a Ukrainian worker who has lived in Tišnov for five years. “I learnt Czech at work, where I always speak to someone. I studied for the exam for about two months, the most difficult part for me was the written part. But I was not nervous on the day of the exam, I felt very well prepared,” said Ivan, who collected his passing certificate at Masaryk University at the end of November.

The MU Language Centre is planning to organise another exam in December. The Centre has launched a new website for those interested in taking the exam and has set up a special office in the building at Komenského náměstí 2, where people can go to confirm their applications and get more detailed information about the exam.

In addition to MU, foreigners can take the exam at the Language School (certified to conduct the State Language Examination) on Kotlářská Street in Brno and in Hodonín and Břeclav in the South Moravian Region. In total, the exam can be taken at 25 schools in the Czech Republic. After passing the exam, foreigners receive an A2-level certificate, which is required for a permanent residence permit. A B1-level exam is required to obtain Czech citizenship. Currently, only one institution in the Czech Republic is authorised to conduct this level of examination: the Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies at Charles University in Prague.

A Ukrainian Ivan Hriadil was one of the first foreigners who took the exam at MU in November.