Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You CAN Learn Slovene....Sorta

I have been here six months and have managed to carve out a decent amount of fluency in Slovene. Though The Captain (who I speak to in English 90% of the time) somtetimes giggles when I speak Slovenian (he says I sound like his 5-year old niece), I would wager to say I am at a "functional" level.

While some bloggers have blogged about the fact that you will never learn this ridiculously confusing language, I would like to slip on my rose colored glasses and talk about how you can and will learn the language.


1) Get yourself a book - I have a few instructional books and most of them are full of glaring spelling and grammatical errors, but nonetheless they are helpful and better than nothing. What most of them lack in grammar help they more than make up for with basic phrases and vocabulary. The best one I've encountered this far is A,B,C, 1, 2, 3...Gremo! It is the instructional book for Center for Slovene as A Second Language - which is connected to the university.

2) Find some people to talk to*
It is helpful to me to have The Captain to talk to since he speaks both Slovene and English fluently, but honestly he has not really been that much of a help. It's been much better hitting the streets and talking to the people at the post office and the drug store, and the supermarket and the person who has been the biggest help of all is The Captain's mother. She doesn't speak English so I have no choice but to get it all out the best way I know how, with her trailing after and cleaning up my grammatical mistakes as I go along.

3) Surround yourself
I keep a big dry erase board next to my desk and periodically up date it with new words. When I find a word on the board that I've used a few times and am comfortable with I remove it and replace it with something new. I get a lot of new words for the board by doing step number 4.....

This seemed like a totally gargantuan task when I first got here, so I was slogging through children's books with my handy ASP slovar by my side, but I soon tired of Pika Polonica (ladybug stores). So I started reading the actual news. I work in journalism so it only made sense. In no time, you will know the meanings of such words as nameravati, odgovornosti, naložb, učinkovitost, javna uprava, and raziskovati (just to name a few). So get your slovar (dictionary) and get translating/reading!

5) Watch TV
Ahhh, the joys of watching Slovenian television, all of the non-Slovene programs are subtitled, so you can sit there with your note pad and take note of new words and their meanings. Similarly, you can watch Slovenian programming (most of which is news programs) and jot down words that you hear regularly to look up in the slovar or ask one of your handy friends to explain it to you. Just make sure you ask an English-speaking friend otherwise you might get yourself in a never-ending game of charades

6) Take a Course
This is the obvious way to do it, but I haven't taken any courses yet. I am certainly looking forward to it though. It will be like going into a hospital triage. I'll be wielding my broken Slovene and hoping the teacher will be kind enough to suture it up for me.



- courage
- persistence
- photographic memory
- the ability to mimic others without embarassment

OK, now get studying!

*BTW, I strongly recommend that people living in Ljubljana (where it seems every shop attendant and waiter thinks they are being helpful by automatically switching to English), take treks to the outskirts where you are certain to find tough old gostilna barmaids and greying tractor drivers who don't have the first clue about English but are still willing to talk to you.


Lisa said...

Great tips! I can personally recommend the Centre for Slovene classes, they're REALLY good. It's so hard sometimes that it makes my head want to explode, but I am learning much faster now.

My triumph moments are when young people don't automatically switch to English when I talk to them. It's happening less and less! :)

Iva said...

especially when i bomb you with sth like KVA DOGAJA, STARA ... success guaranteed!

Camille Acey said...

kva dogaja stara?
ha ha ha.

no daj! daj mi neki težjega!

Iva said...

jebiga, ne morm se skos neki ful smešnga spomnt, a štekaš? :D
OK, enough LJ-slang. in REAL Slovene this would be: Kaj hočemo, ne morem se vedno spomniti nekaj smešnega, razueš?
Don't you just love how slang and official language ... thoroughly overlap? :D

max said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Camille Acey said...

ay yi yi, nočem kriegati! vse fertig, zdaj. štekam! ;)

the slang is fun but it does make it a bit tough to learn the "Queen's" Slovene. It's been a shock to come into the Slovenian business environment with all the "Pozdravljeni" and "Špoštovani" after hanging out with the "Kvaj zej stari" crowd up here in Gorenjska. ;)

Tina. said...

Camille, ti si glavna!

I will have to forward this post to my husband. :)

Camille Acey said...

@tina - Hvala! Probam, res probam.

Upam da tvoj mož uziva!

Luke said...

"That's a great post. Here's a website on developing
photographic memory. Check out the tips that they offer. They worked pretty well for me. It's at http://www.photographic-memory.org"

Anonymous said...

Sheesh! And I though German was difficult in the beginning... I literally learned German watching 'Star Trek' and 'Sesame Street'.

I had to give up on French, because I simply can't pronounce things the way they are supposed to be said - and Dutch might be quickly following (though I can at least usually understand/read it).

Drop by my blog sometimes, ok? www.caratime2.wordpress.com

Camille Acey said...

@caratime2- Thanks so much for reading!

Alas, I think learning German will be a side-effect of living here. I really don't like the sound of it at all, but we are so darned closed to Austria and pesky German words have just keep sliding into the vocabulary. Plsu my best friend here is married to a German so it always keeps ringing in my ears. Ay yi yi.