Is it difficult to learn the Croatian language?


October 24, 2021 – I don’t consider myself halfway to being able to speak the Croatian language fluently, but I do think there are certain factors that have helped me streamline the process and can help you as well, and they deserve to be shared.

It is unlikely, but not impossible, to find someone who wishes to study the Croatian language for no particular reason, that is, for the simple fact of learning Croatian. Especially if you don’t have any experience in learning Slavic languages, it can be quite difficult and even demotivating for many. Among those who studied the Croatian language out of curiosity, I found Erasmus students from countries like Poland, Ukraine or the Czech Republic, and I also met people from Bosnia, Slovenia and Macedonia who, despite having different languages, studied Croatian. without a problem or spoke it very fluently in a very short time.

This was not the case with my colleagues from countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, England or France. It was not for me, Peru, nor for my friends from Argentina, Chile, Bolivia or Colombia, the vast majority of whom studied the language under the scholarship offered by the Central Office. state for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia. , with the intention of learning more about the country of their ancestors or taking the first steps of their new life project in Croatia. Our vocabularies, grammar rules, and even alphabets may be quite similar, but they are very different from those of Slavic languages. Along the way, we notice that certain words can be shared and thus help to understand in a certain way the context of what is heard or read, but in no case reveal their full meaning.

Some examples are:

  • situation (English) – situación (Spanish) – situacija (Croatian)
  • politician – político – političar
  • museum – museum – muzej
  • linguistics – linguística – lingvistika

On the other hand, as in Croatian, verbs are also almost exclusively conjugated for each noun depending on whether it is in the first, second or third person, or whether it is in the singular or in the plural. While in English it is possible that the verbs change very little under these same considerations.

For example, with the verb to eat:

In English (to eat):

  • I eat.
  • You eat.
  • (He / she) eats.
  • We eat.
  • You eat.
  • They eat.

In Spanish (arriving):

  • Yo come on.
  • You come.
  • (El / ella) come on.
  • Comemos Nosotros.
  • Ustedes came.
  • Ellos come.

In Croatian (jester):

  • Yes jedem.
  • Ti jedeš.
  • On / ona / ono jede.
  • Mi jedemo.
  • Vi jedete.
  • Oni / one / ona jedu.

Those of us who speak Spanish might say that, in a way, there are reasons to adapt to studying the Croatian language from certain angles, such as the fact that our language also has a large number grammatical rules and conjugations, as well as the presence of genres. However, the Croatian language has declensions, which do not occur in Spanish. For example:

  • The city. (The city) – Diploma (Case: nominative)
  • see me city. (I’m going to town) – Same as u diploma. (Case: Akuzativ)
  • Vivo in the city. (I live in town) – Živim u diploma. (Case: Lokativ)
  • Junto a la city. (Next to town) – Pored class. (Case: Genitiv)
  • Él debatirá con la city. (He will debate with the city) – Raspravljat će s diploma. (Instrumental)

As you can see, in Spanish, the name city does not change form as the case changes, but in Croatian the name changes form depending on the declension. Although I mentioned earlier that in Spanish, like in Croatian, nouns can also be classified by gender, this does not affect how the accompanying verbs are conjugated. For example:

  • El fue at the ciudad. (It came Towards the city) / Ella fue at the ciudad. (She went Towards the city) – Otisao I you graduated. / Otišla I you graduated.

Also, we are not very used to putting together sentences where the nouns are not accompanied by articles. For example:

  • In ellos les gusta the Pizza. (They love pizza) – Fly pizzu.

However, some things may be familiar to those who speak English, as the articles next to the names are in many cases superfluous, as in the example above. But even if a few things can favor those who speak English, in the end, they will find themselves entangled in a language loaded with variations and genres, unlike the neutral language they have.

Now, I am not a linguistics student, let alone an expert, so I dare not analyze or delve into the history and rules of each language. However, and considering the advantages and obstacles that can arise when learning a language as difficult as Croatian, I think there are five ways you can learn it not only faster and easier, but also in an entertaining way.

1. Register for a course to learn the Croatian language

Probably the best alternative, enrolling in a course to learn the Croatian language has many advantages. For example, as you progress through the topics and levels, you will have the opportunity to consult your teacher, usually someone born in Croatia, on something you did not understand well or on something about which you need more information regarding the Croatian language. In addition, the homework and tests that you must pass throughout the course will help you put your learning to the test. You will also have study material that you might not find elsewhere, and you will study with colleagues who are likely to be on the same level as you and in whom you will find support. If you want to study Croatian language in Croatia, you can check the Basics for Applying Croatian Language scholarship in the Republic of Croatia, or you can also consult the courses offered by the Croaticum in Zagreb.

2. Train with your friends or partner from Croatia

The advantage of having a Croatian-born partner or Croatian friends is that you don’t have to live in Croatia to practice or continue to learn the language. If that person is willing to teach you and you commit to studying, you will notice that it can be very easy and fun. Since they were born in Croatia, you will not only learn grammar rules and declensions, but you will also be able to learn pronunciation. Chances are they will surely appreciate your interest in learning the language!

3. Be encouraged to speak Croatian in everyday situations

If you live in Croatia, or even study the Croatian language there, I can tell you that it is probably not enough to do summaries in your notebook, homework, exams or many hours of study. Ultimately, if you study a language, it is precisely so that you can speak it. It is best to avoid intermediate languages ​​as much as possible. Even though in Croatia you will find that English is spoken by a large part of the population, encourage yourself to practice what you know of Croatian when shopping, at the post office, in a cafe, at the bar, or even with strangers on the street! And there are two reasons why you are going to love this option. The first reason is that you will gain confidence in speaking Croatian, and the second because Croatians are aware that their language can be complicated, so they will help you with what you do not know well and motivate you to keep improving.

4. Watch movies or series with audio or subtitles in Croatian

When I arrived in Croatia, several of my Croatian friends recommended that I watch Croatian movies or series, and at first I thought it might be a bit cliché and maybe it wouldn’t help. not much to learn the language. Yes, it is true that while watching a Croatian movie or series you will not be able to decipher the variations or understand the grammar rules, but it will help you to associate certain expressions, phrases or common words used by Croatians. I recommend that you watch audio movies in your native language or English first, but with Croatian subtitles. Then try watching movies or series with Croatian sound and subtitles in your native language or English. This way you will not only practice your vocabulary but also your pronunciation and the contexts in which you can use new expressions in Croatian.

5. Change the language of any of your electronic devices

Today, smartphones and other electronic devices have become indispensable tools for learning a new language or a new function while traveling abroad. For example, Google Translate works great for translating from English to Croatian and vice versa, and it continues to improve over time. Nowadays, it not only allows you to translate words or phrases that you write yourself, but you can also upload photos or scan text in Croatian, and the app will translate it very efficiently for you. On the other hand, the latest iPhone and its operating system allow you to detect texts through your camera and even in your photos, and so you can get results very quickly.

However, my main advice is to change the primary language on your phone, at least every now and then. As we are very aware of our phones via social media or at work, it is likely that we have already become accustomed to the frequent SMS and messages that we see on different platforms: ” send a message ”, ” disconnect ” , ” update ”, ” download video ”, ” share image ”, ” like ”, ” comment ”, etc. Once your phone is in another language, you will find the same messages, but this time in Croatian, and over time you get used to them!

The Croatian language is difficult, but not impossible. Once you have found the trick, you will realize that it is a language very rich in history and you will find pleasure and motivation to learn it. Do not get discouraged!

To learn more about the way of life in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN page.


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