I have now been learning Croatian for approximately four months, and now seems as good a time as any to report back on my progress.
My aim is too reach a B1 level before the summer.
I’d take this with a pinch of salt, but according to my language teacher, I am now approaching a B1 level. In the interests of full disclosure, honesty and so on, I’d be more comfortable with a description of low A2 (on the CEFR scale). Either way I’m happy with my progress, and have another four months or so before the summer (my arbitrary deadline).
I’ve finally found an effective method of learning languages that works for me, and I’m writing this as much for my benefit (so I remember what works) as for anyone who is reading this.
Now I am vaguely aware that in the language learning community there is a debate as to whether you should listen a lot before speaking, or start speaking immediately. Probably due to an inherent laziness and no particular sense of urgency, I’ve never put much emphasis on speaking initially.
I’m also sure that if you want to achieve a high level in a language that it makes no difference when you start speaking. You need to speak a lot to become good at speaking, and speaking from day one guarantees that you won’t understand the answer. Naturally need to listen to a lot of comprehensible input before you have any hope of understanding what people say to you.
So, in the long run, both are equally important.
But, my aim with Croatian, is too reach a B1 level in both speaking and comprehension by summer of this year. This given the short amount of time forced my hand a bit and I decided to have iTalki lessons (where I speak) ab initio.
If you genuinely want to learn something, regardless if what it is, you need to learn actively not passively. In my mind that means deciding on your own route, or plotting your own path. It is partly for that reason that I no longer have any affiliate links on Surface Languages (not intentionally anyway). It isn’t that I think all language products are bad, but more that we all learn in different ways and my way will be different from your way and so on.
My strategy so far has been:
Weeks 1 and 2. I learnt as much as I could using Teach yourself Croatian.
Weeks 3 and 4. I used several different teachers to find one who suited my style.
Months 2 and 3. I have had a weekly one on one Croatian lesson.
During the lesson my teacher writes down the words that I try to use, and I learn these over the following weeks. This is crucial.
I have listened to simple Croatian texts as I drive to and from work (which takes me about an hour each day).
I have analysed and tried to understand the grammar used in these texts. This is also crucial, as Croatian has a complicated grammar.
Month 4. I have started listening to the Youtube series Easy Croatian (which isn’t easy to understand) to try and get a feel for more natural speech.
I will continue with this for the next two months.
It has also helped that the weather in the west country has been appalling.