Like every person in this country (except the Native Americans), my ancestors immigrated to America from many different parts of the world. And while I boast at least seven different nationalities in my blood, Croatia (but what was then Yugoslavia) is the area the majority of my ancestors came from. Three out of four of my grandparents had Croatian blood and two of them were 100% Croatian. With all that Slavic blood running through me, I like to think it was a bit more than just happenstance that I ended up working at a Croatian restaurant during my summers off from college. It was at this time that my desire to learn to speak Croatian grew.
I spent about eight years (very) casually trying to learn by making my friends from the restaurant teach me phrases here and there, and by visiting Croatia a couple of times with my family. The last five years I have been more determined to learn, but because Croatian is not a popular language to learn in the US, finding a class or an app that teaches it was difficult. A couple of months ago, however, I stumbled upon an American blogger who posted a video on Instagram of her speaking in Croatian. I immediately reached out to her to find out how she knew the language. Not only did I find out how and why she learned, but I also found out that she teaches it! Because I know at 32 that the best way I learn is by having an outside source motivating me, I immediately jumped on this opportunity to have her teach me.
In the last two-and-a-half months that we have been meeting on Skype, I have learned a lot. I am not grasping it as quickly as I would like to, but I keep reminding myself that this is not something that is going to take just a few months to get the hang of. In fact, one of the biggest lessons I have learned so far is that learning another language goes hand-in-hand with learning how to be more patient. So despite some of it coming very natural to me (I can understand most of what my teacher says to me, but am not fully able to find the words to respond yet), I have a long way to go before I meet my goal of being conversational by the time we visit Croatia next year.
Luckily, I have Nikki—a great, patient teacher who makes each lesson fun and unique. Through her company Speak at Home Tonight, she teaches a number of languages and also offers other language services. I highly recommend checking her out.
Have you recently learned another language? And if you have learned or taught Croatian, I would love to know what resources you use!