One of the chief concerns of travelers to a foreign country is whether they can communicate with others. Being able to be understood by the locals and being able to understand them is very important for conducting business and enjoying the local culture.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. The local language is Czech—a language not widely spoken outside of the country and seldom taught anywhere else. It is also a difficult language to learn, with different pronunciation and grammar than English speakers are used to using.
The good news for English-speaking travelers is that many Prague residents speak English. Many of them are fluent. This is especially true for younger people and people who work in shops and restaurants.
We’ve lived in Prague for four years and seldom have to use Czech while conversing with people. English is taught in Czech schools and knowing English is often required for jobs working in retail and hospitality. In many stores and eateries, customers are greeted in English. This is almost always the case in the old town of Prague, neighborhoods frequented by tourists from all over the world.
English has become a world language—a lingua Franca, or perhaps now should be called a “lingua Anglica.” When a Norwegian, a Mexican, a German, and a Czech are together in a Prague pub, they use English. It is the go-to language for people from all over the world.
It’s kind of frustrating actually. Everyone here wants to speak English and makes it difficult for us to learn Czech because we almost never get to practice. When we try to speak something in Czech, the other people detect our accents and immediately switch to English.
The bottom line is that travelers need not be concerned about finding people who speak English in Prague. You should still respect Prague residents and not demand that they speak English. If you are polite, people will be also, and they will do their best to communicate with you.