Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Never too old to learn a new language

The show was a success and we had the audience mesmerized to say the least.

Remember my story about learning Croatian at a cafe? Well now imagine 8 adults putting a play in front of hundreds of spectators as they spoke fluent Croatian. It seems we have come a long way with our language abilities. Last weekend the Center for Foreign Languages hosted it's annual theater performance. There were over 18 small performances including our Class: Learning Croatian (Hrvatski Jesik) Level 2. I wasn't able to participate on stage but I did volunteer to film the entire event.

Performances ranged from kindergarten children singing the alphabet in English to Russian students reading poetry and Spanish students singing "Y soy rebelde." Then it was our turn, I felt nervous and I wasn't even on stage! But I knew my classmates would do fine, they were well prepared. When the introduction was made, I heard whispers from the audience, "they are here to learn Croatian?" I wondered if this was a compliment.
The dialogue began and I heard chuckles from the audience as my classmates carried on their play.Then the singing began. Everyone joined in to the song titled Dalmatinac Sam, a favorite amongst the locals. You can also cheer with us by clicking here to listen to this very popular song.
Our professor informed us that we had advanced to Level 3. Yeah!! Now 20 more levels before we can officially call ourselves a Dalmatinac!

After the play we walked over to Buffet Fife to celebrate. L's husband went fishing the night before and brought what he caught to the restaurant to have it cooked by one of the chefs as a gift to our class. We also ordered house wine, beer Karlovacko, calamari, bakalar, and sang the night away.

No better way to end the evening than in good company. As we were leaving a couple of tourists stopped us and asked what was the occasion for our celebration and I replied, "We are all imports (expats) and we are living in Croatia and we met by attending Croatian lessons." Then I introduced everyone, "E is from Jordan, C and L are from Italy, N and Y are French, E from Portugal, M is from Brazil and P is from Canada, and myself from Mexico." The couple exclaimed, "we're also from Canada!" And the lady continued by saying,"we had paid our bill but then you began to sing, so we decided to stay a bit longer because you seemed like such a happy, and diverse crowd."

I'm very proud of my accomplishments and can honestly say I have improved my written grammar skills. It's still somewhat difficult to speak Croatian and I always, always stumble on my words. But somehow my in-laws understand me. Now I just have to continue practicing daily because I don't want to forget what I have learned. (At home, I speak English with Hubby and Spanish with Daughter, and when we visit my in-laws I speak Croatian.)

Do you have any tips of how I can continue to improve my new adopted language?Fashion Magazines? Children's books?


  1. TV? is a very good one, specially if you can find one with Croatian subtitles so that the words you don't hear you can read them... you hear and read at the same time it has always worked for me.
    I can sense through your post that you really enjoyed your evening! And keep talking to the in laws :) you'll get there

  2. I love how learning Croatian is a community thing. You seem to be going to a great school that offers so much more than just classroom-based lessons, and having a good relationship with your classmates, I'm sure helps a lot.

    Fashion magazines, tv, everything you can get your hands on! I try to translate everything, the instructions on food products, newspapers, etc. and I'm not sure how helpful it is but check out www.livemocha.com

  3. Hi,
    There are some good Croatian language books that come with CDs, so you can play them over and over again. There were too many to include in this message, so I made a special blog entry complete with pictures and prices and where to buy: www.zagrebdiaries.blogspot.com

    If you can only go for one, then go for the one with 6 CDs...there's lots of dialogue and pronunciation help in that one.

    Best of luck to you (and to me) on getting beyond dobar dan and izvolite!

  4. I never knew that learning a new language would be so hard... at least German is. It seems that I can speak it much better than I can write it... but I heard writing is the last thing to come and I don't know if I will ever get the grammar right. It sounds like you are at a good start!

    One thing that really helped me was that my husband made some music CD's with the text to go along with it so I could read it as I listened to it/sang it. There is nothing like putting something to a melody to help you remember it.

    It sounds like your daughter will have the best of all worlds hearing English, Spanish and Croatian! I speak English with my son and his daddy speaks German... but he is not speaking just yet (13 weeks!)

    Greetings from Germany!

  5. wow! congrats on level #3. I guess practicing is the best way to learn, always.

  6. Well done, sounds like you are making great progress. I am learning French at the moment, not Arabic, although I did some Arabic when I first moved here and found that nobody is willimng to practise with you - everybody wants to speak English!!
    So, French it is. Why? Simply because I did not learn it at school (I did English and Latin - and I am German)and I thought it's about time.
    Have reached a level that I can browse through fashion magazines and as long as there are enough pictures I can make out what a story is about - ish.
    What language are you learning Croatian in? I am learning French in English, but often find similarities with German and I get a little confused. But then, I confuse easily... ;-))

  7. Babs, I found a spanish soap-opera with Croatian subtitles! I was so happy. and yes I love talking to my -in-laws, especially the grandparents, they are 80 years old and they really show patience to my waving hands and slooow pronounciation but they know that I'm trying.

  8. Biking in heels, hey thanks for that weblink. They do have croatian and four different levels and it's free!!

  9. Gabriella, thanks for info. the Ucimo Hrvatski is what we use at school and you can find it at profil or here in Split in a local book shop. I might go with the cds you suggested though, the more resources I have the better. Good luck to the both of us. let me know how your progress is going.

  10. Allison, I think I'm better at writing because I have difficulty speaking Croatian with my spanish accent and trying to pronounce the various ch,sh and something in between ch-sh sound.LOL but I don't loose hope. Congrats on your little one! 13 weeks, he will be talking in no time.hehe. by the way I saw your pics and think he will make a great assistant.

  11. Ulrike, kuddos for you, Sorry Arabic didn't work out, but I guess I can understand people wanting to speak English. I'm learning Croatian in English, but sometimes I get confused as well because some Croatian words are similar and opposite to spanish words. (like Boca pronounced botsa is bottle in Croatian yet in spanish pronounced boka is mouth!) So don't feel bad about the confusion part.

  12. I have just enjoyed a pleasant browse around your interesting blog. Croatian does not seem an easy language to learn, I am having enough problems with Italian!
    I appreciated you calling by my blog 'News From Italy' and commenting.
    I will be sure to call by again and learn more about your life in Croatia.

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  16. Thanks.5 Reasons Why You Are Never Too Old To Learn A Foreign Language


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