How to learn Serbian?
People have been wondering for ages: how can I learn a foreign language? What do you think, is there an answer to this question? Well, yes, there is. There is an exact formula for learning any language. And the same would go for Serbian. Continue reading and find out what you need to do in order to learn Serbian.
Let’s clear something out. When we said there was a formula, we didn’t refer to a magic potion you can just drink and wake up one day speaking Serbian. After reading this article, you will still need to invest a lot of effort and time in learning Serbian. Still, you will comprehend better the language acquisition processes and focus your studies in an effective way.
You don’t know a language, you live it. You don’t learn a language, you get used to it.
Why do you need time to learn a language? Well, there are some processes in our brain which just need time. When you’re learning a new language, don’t forget that you are actually learning about a new reality. This new reality can be more or less shocking in the beginning (depending on how different it is from your mother tongue or other languages you speak).
A teacher can explain a lot of things, but sometimes you just need time to comprehend everything and get familiar with how the system works. You need time to get used to the language and the system it functions on. Real-life example: switching from a Windows to iOS. Wasn’t it a bit frustrating in the beginning?
Learning a language is also about acceptance. We get a lot of questions about the existence of cases in Serbian or a different system of verbs and tenses. It is understandable that some of these differences can frustrate a language learner. What you need to do is to focus on understanding or accepting these issues. Don’t invest your energy in questioning their utility. Remember that your aim is to figure out how natives communicate with each other.
Another thing that needs time is pronunciation. Everyone thinks this only depends on the practice, but no. It also has to do with genetics and having a good ear for music. If you’re tone-deaf, you will need more time to hear and imitate sounds from Serbian which don’t exist in your language.
A different language is a different vision of life.
As it was quoted in the beginning, you need to live a certain language in order to learn it. Does that mean that you need to be exposed to a language 24/7 until you feel fully prepared? No, it doesn’t. But you do need a certain amount of regular exposure. You cannot learn or acquire something you’ve never got in touch with before.
If you want to learn Serbian, we recommend making it a part of your daily routine. It can be as little as 15 minutes per day. For faster results, we recommend exposing yourself to Serbian more time during the day.
How do you expose yourself to Serbian? It can be different activities as long as they give you the daily input you need. If you have some Serbian friends, you can get in touch with them. Go to the nearest shop and communicate with people in Serbian. Go to a bar, order in Serbian and ask a waiter/waitress about how your drink/food is prepared.
Reading and listening really help in this case. We can highly recommend our Serbian conversation podcast called TalkIn’ Serbian. You can choose between beginner, intermediate and advanced level. This podcast has helped many to get in touch with conversational Serbian adapted to their level. Also, it can help you learn a lot of new vocabulary and expressions.
If you can read stories or articles, that would really help your progress in Serbian. However, reading these is not very helpful if you are on a beginner level. In this case, we can recommend some children’s stories in Serbian with an English translation. If you’re living in Serbia, you can find these in Vulkan bookshops around Belgrade.Update
Also, if your level of Serbian is intermediate or advanced, try watching some Serbian series or films. Find the ones whose plot interests you the most. This way you can concentrate on the story and at the same time listen to the pronunciation. Watching video content also helps you notice common gestures and cultural norms when people interact.
A different language is a different vision of life.
Time and exposure are not enough if you do not include yourself in an active way. You cannot learn a language in a passive way. You can build up your reading and listening skills, but if you want to be able to participate in a conversation, you need to take an active part. We had a lot of students who were able to understand a lot of Serbian, not just texts and audios from the book, but the Serbian they could hear on the streets. Nevertheless, most of them usually couldn´t answer a simple question in Serbian. Why is that? Because they didn´t have any practice doing it.
Even if you practice conversation in your course, but don´t do anything by yourself when you leave the classroom, it is simply not enough. In the classroom, you fell protected. The activities where you need to speak Serbian are well organised so you would only use the language you’re familiar with. And usually, the teacher explains everything and shows you how it should be done.
Practice is all about imitation. In the classroom, the context is very limited, and still, it helps you make certain expressions and phrases automatic. Imagine if you combined it in your daily life outside the classroom and expanded it with even more content. Having a natural interaction with another person is the best kind of practice you can do.
Don’t forget that here in the Language Centre Rayuela we offer conversation lessons which can be individually imparted. Check out our online private lessons.
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Let’s make some conclusions
If you truly want to learn Serbian take a deep breath and don’t be so hard on yourself. The only thing you need to do is to organise your study time and take it one step at the time. Be consistent in exposing yourself to Serbian and practising it. Remember that practice makes perfect and note that it also means making a lot of mistakes in order to learn.
Along the way, you will need a teacher, but there are also a lot of things you can learn yourself. So, pick up a book and get yourself out there.
Let’s learn Serbian!