How to Learn Serbian in 9 Steps: The Most Powerful Technique
by Magdalena Petrović Jelić
If you’re wondering how to learn Serbian, in this article I give you the most powerful technique I use with my students. It’s an advanced story-telling technique that looks time-consuming, but it’s actually time-saving in the long run.
What is the most expensive commodity today? Time. If we could buy time, we’d pay for it as much as we could. I know I’d use at least 5 more hours a day.
But we can’t buy time. We can only use the time we have in the best possible way.
If you want to be efficient and have to use only one technique for learning Serbian, there is one you should choose.
Interestingly, this technique looks time-consuming. It’s huge! However, when you see how effective it is, you’ll realize it’s actually time-saving.
What I’m going to reveal here is an advanced story-telling technique I’ve developed with my students.
But I must warn you, it might not work for you in the beginning. Especially if you’re not experienced in learning languages. You should try it anyway and give yourself some time.
Because once it starts working, you will enjoy learning efficiently.
How to learn Serbian in 9 steps: My Advanced Story-Telling Technique for Learning Serbian
Here’s what you should do:
How to learn Serbian – Step 1. Find the right text
First you need a text that is slightly more advanced then your level. You should be a little uncomfortable reading it, but not too much.
It’s the relative difficulty of the text what determines how much the whole task will be difficult and how much you’ll eventually learn. The more difficult the text for you, the more difficult to understand it and more time-consuming the exercise.
It’s like weight-lifting: if the weight is too light for you, you won’t advance. If it’s too heavy, you’ll break down. It’s important to find the right weight.
You want the text to be challenging, but not mind-blowing.
How to learn Serbian – Step 2. Read and Translate
Focus on understanding the story line even if you don’t know the structures yet. It’s even more efficient if you have someone to help you translate it – a teacher or a friend. It’s important to understand the general idea, but also the meaning of individual phrases and words.
How to learn Serbian – Step 3. Copy the text to your notebook
Underline new words. Write their translation in the margins. Optionally, write a list of new words in your notebook. Write example sentences with them. You can be creative, or simply describe your reality.
How to learn Serbian – Step 4. Read the text again
Several times, if you need. Especially after taking a break for several days. Repetition and breaks are both important, because that’s how new words are getting into your long-term memory. The story line that you’ll remember should help you recall the meaning of the words you didn’t really remember.
How to learn Serbian Step 5. Listen to the audio repeatedly
If there’s no audio, have a friend record it for you in a reasonably slow pace. Try to remember the words. Use your memory of the story line to get the meaning of individual words you may not recognize at first. You can use the audio to practice your pronunciation. Simply click pause and repeat aloud trying to imitate the pronunciation. You can also use it to practice dictation. Again, click pause and write what you hear.
How to learn Serbian – Step 6. Ask questions
Come up with a subtitle or a question for each paragraph or idea of the text. Try to cover all the main points of the text. You can use this as a speaking exercise with your teacher or friend.
How to learn Serbian – Step 7. Tell a similar story
Use the same words, even whole sentences, if they apply to your new situation. Answer the questions from the previous activity. Start simple, imitating the sentences from the original text, and add as many details as you can.
For example, after reading a text about Belgrade, write about your town. Or even better: compose several short texts about the cities you like.
How to learn Serbian – Step 8. Make sure your text sounds natural
Have a friend or a teacher read and correct what you’ve written. Serbian is grammatically very complex language. Especially in the beginning, but also later, do not stress over all the corrections of your text. Your task is to deliver understandable messages, not to write perfect sentences. But for your text to be a useful learning material, have someone correct it and learn from those corrections.
How to learn Serbian – Step 9. Review
Return to your text a few days later, and again after a week or two. Read it to recall and retain all the new words you’ve used. Try to talk or think about same topic but a different situation. For example, choose another city and try to describe it. That will give you the feel of how much you’ve learned.
This is a powerful technique. It makes you exercise all four skills important for learning Serbian: reading, listening, writing and speaking, while enhancing your memory.
You’ll practice speaking even if you don’t speak – because when you write, you practice forming sentences and prepare yourself for communication. Especially with questions and answers, since that’s what communication consists of.
You can follow this technique step-by-step, or you might choose to skip or add something.
The most challenging part is finding the right texts and audios – the right weight.
That’s why I’ve made them an integral part of my Serbian course for beginners!
The Tako Lako Beginner Serbian Course contains texts carefully designed to teach you the vocabulary and the grammar you need.
“Poznaješ li Srbiju?” (Do you know Serbia?) is the standard 7th section of each module. It consists of 2 informing texts that are a bit more advanced than your expected level.
Each text is translated and recorded as audio file. So you’ve got three steps solved: 1) finding the text, 2) reading and translating it, 5) audio. The rest is up to you.
These lessons are the key part of my method!
You’ll get the most of them by following my advanced story-telling technique throughout the Tako Lako Beginner Serbian Course.
Try this technique for yourself and let me know how it worked!