It is close to 3 months since I moved to Zagreb and I am still not doing as well as I (and others) would like with the language. Sure, I know more words now than when I started. And, I know more grammar, but holding conversations is where I need the most practice and what I do the least.
I realized this soon after I began my Croatian lessons. Five lessons in I asked my teacher to change her format so that we could hold more conversations instead of me doing homework, trying to memorize word combinations and reading my homework aloud. She agreed, and we hold more conversations, but they are very basic and poor.
A few weeks ago I was doing some research online around linguistics, origin and roots of languages, and learning languages (particularly Croatian). I found a lot of great stuff, but the one revelation was this…
“People will not speak a new language if they don’t HAVE to.”
People will always find the easiest way to converse because speaking in a new language is difficult. I’ve realized that I can get by pretty well with mostly just English here. My boyfriend and I, despite several attempts, always end up speaking only in English. Mostly because of habit, but also because speaking in Croatian is frustrating for both of us and why would anyone want to voluntarily and continuously put themselves in a frustrating situation?
Speaking Croatian requires a whole different way of thinking and constructing sentences (at least for the beginners). For example, take the following relatively common English sentence,
“It’s so good to see you.”
and translate the concept into Croatian…
“Tako mi je drago sto te vidim.”
The literal translation back to English is…
“So to me it is dear that you I see.”
Oh my goodness. Since I don’t think “in Croatian,” I somehow need to come up with these kinds of things if I want to say anything more than “where’s the bathroom?”
Well, at my friend’s request, I am spending the next 3 days without speaking any English beyond what I need for my job. I hope it’s not a total disaster and that I’m not completely miserable with the frustration 🙂