The idea to put together a month-long summer Czech language, culture and history course for foreign students first surfaced in the times of the First Czechoslovak Republic. The first such course took place after World War II thanks to the initiative of the then director of the Institute of Slavonic Studies, professor Albert Pražák.
The course was organized by the Institute of Slavonic Studies in cooperation with Charles University’s Faculty of Arts in 1948 and given the name “The Summer School of Slavonic Studies” (abbreviated in Czech to the LŠSS). Czech was not the only language taught there – students could also choose from other Slavonic languages such as Slovak and Lusatian Serbian. Nowadays, students only learn Czech as a foreign language, but the historical name has stuck; other similar Czechoslovak summer schools have adopted it as well. The second year of the LŠSS took place the following year, that is 1949, but the third one didn’t come until 1959 when international Slavists took interest. After that the LŠSS took place annually up until 2019. The 2020 LŠSS was cancelled due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. The 64th annual Summer School of Slavonic Studies is set to take place in the summer of 2021.
From the 70s on, academic symposia have been a part of the LŠSS. In 1978, Czech as a foreign language became independent of Slavonic studies in the broad sense and the Institute of Czech Studies, which focuses on Czech as a foreign language specifically, was established within the Faculty of Arts.
The Summer School of Slavonic Studies has, during its run, had almost 300 teachers and over 9,000 attendees from over 60 countries in all five continents, with many of them being (some to this day) well-respected figures of the academic and cultural life of their countries and ambassadors of Czech science and culture in the world. Many students who come to the LŠSS return and attend repeatedly.