Is learning Serbian only for the young ones? Or just for the ones with the genes for languages?
It’s easy to think this way if we don’t know the right steps to take to learn Serbian. People might be more or less prone to understand how a language works. Simply said, for some learning Serbian may be going smoothly, and for others, it might feel like dealing with the country’s bureaucracy – stressful and painful.
Whether you are in the first or the second group, the steps you need to take to learn Serbian are the same. Let’s check them out.
Step 1 - Get the basics right
First, you need to find a structured path to help you set the base of Serbian. This will help you understand how the language works, how different it is from your mother tongue, and what you need to pay special attention to.
When it comes to how to do it, there are some questions you need to think about:
- What is more important, a course or a teacher?
- Should you take private or group lessons?
The answer to both is – and try not to hate me here – it depends. Before finding the right answer for you, take into consideration some personal factors.
- How independent are you when it comes to studying a language?
- Are you able to understand and apply explanations after reading them?
- How much time can you invest in studying on your own?
Try to be truthful to yourself when answering. Think about the long-term routine. What could you include in your day-to-day and make it sustainable?
Private lessons are a good option if –
- you need more time to understand concepts and learn new content
- you don’t want to follow the generic curriculum.
If you opt for private lessons, a great thing would be to find a teacher who speaks your mother tongue. The mere fact that this person will know which are the major differences between Serbian and your mother tongue is paramount. You will be able to make progress faster and won’t depend on your or the teacher’s knowledge of English.
For those of you who don’t need the extra help, but like to set your own pace when studying, another option is self-study courses.
I’d recommend group lessons for everyone who feels better when sharing their learning journey with others and wants to meet people that are in a similar situation. In group lessons, the knowledge is shared. The whole group learns from the failures and successes of each other.
On the other hand, what many students don’t realize about group lessons is that they need to put in the extra hours at home. Not just to do your homework, but to go above and beyond the content your see during the course. Of course, working extra goes for everyone, but we’ll talk about it more in step 2.
Step 2 - Find a way to “mingle” with the Serbian culture
When you’re a beginner, immersing yourself in Serbian language and culture can be frustrating. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You need to understand that your two or three hours of weekly lessons with the teacher won’t cut it. It’s great to set the base, but not nearly enough for you to learn to communicate.
Courses are a controlled environment and it is important for you to be in touch with the real language.
Why do you need daily exposure to the language you’re learning?
Brains are malleable. This means they are able to change and adapt. It is why you should take the language you’re learning in little daily doses.
Your brain needs time to accept the different reality of Serbian and the system around it. It needs to get used to the rhythm, the sounds, and everything related to it.
If you’re a beginner in Serbian, start with something small: a song or a short video. Try to find out what they are about.
Once you are more advanced, think about having 15 to 30 minutes of Serbian content each day. And the important thing is to try to make it effortless. Making yourself listen, read or watch Serbian content you are not interested in is not a good long-term strategy.
TalkIn’ Serbian Podcast is just one of the many online choices you have to be in touch with the Serbian language.
Step 3 - Practice, practice, practice
Shocking, I know. When you watch, listen, and read stuff on a daily basis that’s awesome. But it’s not enough. It’s just step 2, remember?
You need to take that content and knowledge and use it for your communication purposes. Whether you are going to speak with ChatGPT or have a pen pal (the latter is the better option), that’s on you. Just don’t fool yourself. One thing is to understand and a totally different one is to communicate exactly what you wanted to say.
Natives will look at you in a weird way and try to speak English.
You probably won’t sound very smart, but that’s ok. The other person probably just wants to understand your message.
You will try to translate directly from your mother tongue and won’t be understood.
You will blush and want to give up.
If you feel any of these at any given moment, congratulations! You’re on the right path to becoming a Serbian speaker. It is necessary for you to go through these steps so you could become better each time.
When you accept you’ll make a fool of yourself at some point and probably won’t speak perfectly for some time (or ever), it becomes better. Who knows, you might even enjoy the whole process.
There is no final step. These three above are the only things you need to do. So, let’s go over it again. You need to:
- Get a solid basic knowledge of the language
- Be in touch with the language passively
- Practice like there’s no tomorrow
Try applying these for a longer period, then let me know how it’s going. Sing up for the TalkIn’ Serbian Newsletter where I give you specific recommendations for learning Serbian, exercises, and special offers.
Tell me, which of the steps is your favorite?
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Before you embark on the journey and start learning Serbian, check out everything you need to know about this language.