How is your Croatian? Looking to improve or even start from the beginning, we’ve got a solution for you, or rather the University of Dubrovnik has. The Centre for Languages at the University of Dubrovnik will launch a course of Croatian for beginners. Now, from my experience Croatian was a challenging language to learn, however if I learnt it anyone can, so now is your chance to at least step on the first rung of the language ladder. We can up with the course teacher, Marija Konsuo, to find out more about this course. And with her patient and friendly approach you’ll already have a boost in picking up Croatian. For as she said “I wouldn’t say that some languages are easier or harder than others to learn.” Now if that’s not a positive approach I don’t know what is!
So the Centre for Languages at the University of Dubrovnik has just announced a new course, Croatian for foreigners. Why did you decide to launch this course?
In fact, this isn't a new course because the Centre for Languages has already been running this course for a few years, by Prof. Katja Bakija and Sandra Merdzan. However, after a pause for a few terms we have started this Croatian language course again.
Croatian is undoubtedly a tough language to learn. How challenging will this course be for your new students?
I wouldn’t say that some languages are easier or harder than others to learn. For example, if we have students from a country that has a Slavic language then they find Croatian relatively easy to learn. And for native English speakers I also think that Croatian is possible to learn, yes, it might be more challenging but right at the beginning of the course we tell our students to have no fear. We start right at the very beginning with the simplest words and phrases. We also pay attention to the Croatian alphabet and the correct pronunciation. It’s also important to add that the classes will be relatively small, so that students will have the chance not only to communicate in Croatian to each other, but also to focus of the lessons.
Right at the beginning of the course we tell our students to have no fear - Photo Mark Thomas
Along with the Croatian do you throw in some words and phrases that we use in Dubrovnik?
We have experience of teaching to Erasmus students who are studying here in Dubrovnik and as they are surrounded by the language, which of course means they hear and pick up words and phrases that we use in Dubrovnik, and they do use some of our local words. However, the course is indeed aimed at standard Croatian, although of course some of the local dialect will be added.
Who is the course aimed at? It’s a beginners course, so are you hoping for students who will work in Dubrovnik and/or foreigners who already live here?
Yes, the course is aimed at beginners as is A.1 level, in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is a level that is right at the beginning of learning a language. Of course, we also have in plan to move towards move challenging and higher levels in the future. The course is ideal for foreigners who already live in Dubrovnik and want to improve their language skills. There are a certain number of foreigners who live in the region who would like to start to learn the language, at least some of the basics, to make everyday life easier.
After your students finish the course what will they able to do in Croatian? Are you aiming at all aspects of the language, reading and speaking?
Yes, we will teach all aspects of Croatian, meaning speaking, listening, writing and reading. After the competition of the first A.1 the students will be able to be part of a simple conversation, such as ordering a coffee, as well as being able to fill out simple forms and other documents and read simple newspaper articles and headlines. They’ll be able to participate in communication with people who are ready to formulate their language according to the level of the students, just a little slower. They’ll also be able to write a simple postcard and other easier writing tasks.
Is there a chance that this course could be online as well? As this could open it up to a whole new range of people who don’t have the possibility of attending class lessons?
Yes. When we started the applications the interest was very high, which is great, and in fact we got applications from the US, Australia and all over the world. So we are working on an online course that will be aimed at students who don’t actually live in Dubrovnik but want to learn Croatian, this will also be the A.1 level. These two course, both online and in the classroom, will be run in parallel. This online course will also start at the beginning of April.
Will the students have a diploma or certificate at the end of the course?
Yes, they will. At the completion of the course all the students will have an exam, both a written and a spoken exam. And when they successfully pass the exams they’ll get a diploma, or rather a certificate, from the Centre for Languages of the University of Dubrovnik.
This first course is aimed at beginners, so does this mean that you will follow it up with more levels, intermediate and advanced?
Yes, in plan we have the first two levels A.1 and A.2 however, we are planning the B level course. There are basically three levels, A, B and C, and then inside each level two more levels, 1 and 2.
What do you think is the hardest part of Croatian for foreigners, what feedback do you have from students?
I guess that I would probably say that reading, or more precisely the pronunciation of words and letters, is challenging at the beginning. However, this is only at the beginning and once the students have more practise they tend to pick it up quite quickly. As far grammar is concerned I wouldn’t say that it is a big problem, you can compare grammar with maths, it’s just a question of learning the formulas. Learn the formula and you’ll get the grammar quickly.
On the other hand, what is the easiest part of Croatian to learn?
I would say that the easiest part is the vocabulary, or rather the phrases that they would most commonly hear in everyday life.
For more details on the course, including how to enrol, follow this link to the Centre for Languages at the University of Dubrovnik.