Let’s learn Croatian!
The Rijeka School of Croatian Studies, a centre for learning Croatian as a second or foreign language
Author: Dr Željka Macan
Published 15 July 2015
The Rijeka School of Croatian Studies, a centre for learning Croatian as a second or foreign language, has been active since 2008 and is hosted by the Department of Croatian at Rijeka’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The list of learners at the School includes Croatian Studies students from foreign universities, scholarship students supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia and by the State Office for Croats Abroad, incoming mobility students at the University of Rijeka, foreigners with business or personal ties to Croatia and enthusiasts for Croatia and the Croatian language. Learners from neighbouring countries such as Italy, Austria, Slovenia, as well as Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Finland, North and South America and Australia have studied Croatian at the Rijeka School of Croatian Studies.
Teaching Croatian as a second or foreign language is both a challenge and a great pleasure. While it is wonderful to observe learners’ progress, it is a challenge to optimally adapt course content and teaching methods to suit diverse learner needs. The School thus offers beginning, intermediate and advanced language courses that vary in intensity and duration, as well as Croatian as a Second or Foreign Language, a comprehensive module for Croatian language and literature students at universities abroad. The module courses are designed to suit the level of learners’ language proficiency (beginning, intermediate and advanced level or levels A, B and C according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Croatian language workshops and classes on Croatian culture and civilisation are obligatory for all levels, with several elective courses available where students can learn more about Croatian literature and film, geography, history, government and legal system, history of the Croatian language, etc. The classes in all courses are creative, dynamic and flexible, promoting communication and open-mindedness, filled with laughter of learners who feel accepted and at ease.
The School has also run two projects funded through the Erasmus programme: intensive Croatian courses and ITALICFound in Translation, a film translation project carried out in cooperation with Universities of Graz, Udine and Krakow. Participants’ dedication and hard work resulted in German, Polish and Italian translations of the feature film Koko and the Ghosts and documentaries Fed Up and The Big Day. Audio descriptions of animated movies based on Ivana Brlić Mažuranić’s Croatian Tales of Long Ago published by Naklada Bulaja were also produced. This form of translation adapts the content of audiovisual media for the blind and visually impaired by adding narration with accurate and detailed descriptions of visual information. In future projects the School plans on maintaining cooperation with foreign institutions of higher education that share the same goals and field of activity.
On the School’s initiative, Rijeka’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has become one of the partner institutions in the Bovec Summer School established by the University of Klagenfurt, which offers courses in German, Italian, Slovenian and Friulian in addition to Croatian. The Rijeka School of Croatian Studies participates in the activities of the Rijeka branch of Bilingualism Matters, also collaborating with institutions and experts in Croatia and abroad, promoting mobility and the Croatian language and culture. More details on the School can be found on its web page (www.ffri.hr/rks/EN/) and on Facebook.
The learning of Croatian as a second or foreign language in Rijeka and its environs: an overview and our goals
Author: Dr Željka Macan
Published on 6 June 2014
In Rijeka and its environs Croatian is learned as a second or foreign language by visiting students from foreign universities, by Croatians living abroad, by foreigners with business or personal ties to Croatia, by Adriatic Sea, travel and language learning enthusiasts, by preschool and school children... the list goes on.
Since 2008 Rijeka's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has hosted the Rijeka School of Croatian Studies, a centre for learning Croatian as a second or foreign language affiliated with the Faculty's Department of Croatian. Its goals include promoting the knowledge of Croatian language and culture internationally, developing modern methods of teaching Croatian as a second or foreign language, creating teaching manuals and textbooks, organising conferences, starting projects dealing with Croatian as a second or foreign language, and promoting mobility. The School offers a variety of courses to suit diverse learner needs in terms of their content and duration – ranging from one-semester teaching, aimed primarily at Croatian Studies students from foreign universities, to an intensive course, a foundational beginner's course, individualised teaching, etc. All the courses adhere to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and attract ever-increasing numbers of learners. The Summer School of Croatian Language, Culture and Civilisation is also regularly organised, as well as a variety of programmes, such as "Found in Translation", an international project devoted to film translation.
Croatian as a second or foreign language also features in the "Integration of Disadvantaged Groups into the Mainstream Education System" project led by Rijeka's Podmurvice Primary School. As part of the project, continuing until February 2015, teaching of Croatian as a second or foreign language has been organised for primary school pupils from Primorsko-Goranska county, the teachers involved having completed an appropriate course of training at the Rijeka School of Croatian Studies.
The Erasmus Student Network has organised tandem learning (involving pairing up with a native speaker to learn their language in a non-formal setting) of Croatian as a second or foreign language for incoming mobility students. In addition, the University of Rijeka Student Association and various student societies have run related activities for foreign students.
When organising professional conferences for teachers of Croatian in Primorsko-Goranska and Istria counties, the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency pays particular attention to Croatian as a second or foreign language, since many teachers encounter it in their work. Croatian Language and Literature teacher training master's degree students at Rijeka's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have an opportunity to learn about teaching and learning Croatian as a Second or Foreign language at a theoretical and practical level through attending the eponymous course.
The learning of Croatian as a second or foreign language is yet another example of bilingualism being an advantage. We therefore wish to acquaint the public at large with this form of bilingualism and demonstrate how Croatian as a second or foreign language is taught and learned. We also aim to provide additional Croatian learning support for non-native speakers, particularly schoolchildren. Promotion of non-formal learning of Croatian as a second or foreign language is another goal, involving the linking of resources offered to Croatian native speakers for learning foreign languages with those offered to non-native speakers for learning Croatian.