Why You Don’t Need a Serbian Teacher After Learning the Basics
By Danica Gómez Marković
Do you know what you need to know to start communicating in Serbian? Each language has its own musts, but no worries. I will tell you what you have to learn in Serbian to start speaking with people in the streets.
Start hard, finish easy
People mostly judge the difficulty of a language by what you need to learn to make a full sentence. In Serbian that means learning a bunch of things. Therefore, the reputation preceding it is not great.
It is true you will need to get a grasp of more things to start speaking Serbian rather than Spanish, for example. However, in Spanish life gets complicated once you reach the intermediate level. What I’m trying to say is that there will always be things that are hard when you’re learning a new language.
Let’s check everything you need to learn grammar-wise in order to start speaking Serbian.
The best way to study
When you’re searching for the best way to study, think about what would be the most sustainable option for you. Organize your activities to have a constant learning pace, but also don’t push it too hard. You don’t want to put yourself in hyperspeed and give up after two weeks. The ‘go hard or go home’ plan is not sustainable.
Of course, you need to consider your goals. If you have a deadline, sustainability would not be the first thing on your mind. Luckily, the deadline will motivate you to study hard and not surrender. Your goals can also be speaking with your partner, or in-laws, being more independent, etc. Whichever it is, always have it in mind.
Another thing you need to reflect on is your learning style. This is important, especially for the work you have to do at home. For example, if you prefer visual aids, make mind maps or organize content in tables. For other learning styles, you might need to take notes or repeat explanations out loud. Do whatever is necessary to make learning and connecting the dots more easily.
Considering what you need to learn in Serbian to start communicating, my advice for beginners is to find:
- a teacher for private lessons
- a group course
- a self-paced course.
Choose whichever suits you best, but you need to get the basics from somewhere. The best thing would be to get them in a structured way, which a teacher or a course can provide. Most Serbian courses go over all of the topics we mentioned and more in a 9-month period of about three-hour lessons per week.
As you can see for yourself, it’s a lot of grammar* for 9 months, so there’s a lot of work you need to do at home by yourself – study, practice, repeat.
*Of course, Serbian courses are not all about grammar, but this is usually the part
that scares students the most.
You don’t need a teacher after learning the basics
Let’s say you did 9, 12, or 18 months of course. You acquired the basics and are wondering what now? Should you take another course to learn more or further practice what you learned?
If you did your job well enough during the course, it is time to leave the nest. You acquired everything you need at least to the point of understanding and now it’s time to start engaging with the real world.
You don’t feel ready? You probably never will, so let’s not make it an obstacle.
Use the time during or after the course to immerse yourself in the Serbian-speaking world. It should become part of your daily routine. Remember, learning a language is more about consistency in small doses than two-week marathons.
How can you integrate the Serbian language into your life?
You might think, if you’re living in Serbia, that’s easy. Trust me, it’s also easy to get used to not understanding and living in a bubble. That’s why if you live in Serbia you should:
- Meet Serbian people and try doing some activities with them. Enjoy the role of the dark horse in group conversations, but in the meantime observe and absorb the way people are speaking, their body language, and intonation.
- Meet other foreigners who are learning Serbian. Share your experience of learning Serbian with them. Maybe they will give you a different perspective on things that are bothering you in Serbian.
- Try doing as many activities as you can. Go to museums or art galleries and pick up the vocabulary. In bigger cities like Belgrade and Novi Sad, you can visit many other events locals go to.
If you’re living abroad:
- Listen to as much content in Serbian as you can: podcasts, movies, series, and YouTube videos (it is recommended if you live in Serbia too). Find whatever interests you and make it a daily activity.
To engage further with what you are listening to, you can write about it in Serbian or practice speaking by speaking to yourself. I prepared my speaking part for a Cambridge exam by watching Oprah’s motivational videos and talking to myself about the topics she mentioned.
Of course, reading is a good option too, but always combine it with listening so your ear would get used to the sounds.
Troubles understanding when natives speak Serbian?
Check out our TalkIn’ Serbian Beginner Podcast where the language in our Serbian conversation is adapted to beginner level. There is also a transcript, vocabulary list, and worksheet for each episode to help you follow, understand, and practice the real Serbian language.
Let’s sum up
The Serbian language is much more than grammar and vocabulary. However, to be able to enter the Serbian language world and the culture you will need to acquire structured knowledge through lessons with a teacher or a course.
Nonetheless, sticking with a teacher more than necessary is counterproductive. Once you acquire the basics and understand how the system works, you are ready to get out there and speak.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be good at it from the beginning, but it is the only way to become a Serbian speaker.
In order to learn a skill you want to have as much exposure as you can to repeat the action.
Be patient with yourself and do your best in every situation.
It always helps if you hear a story from a person who’s been through the same as you.
Chris shared his experience and tips for learning Serbian in the TalkIn’ Serbian Podcast.
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