To learn even basic Croatian, you will need a quite a bit of work and perseverance. Consider taking lessons before your arrival in Croatia and continuing them once you're there. It takes a long time to reach the level of fluency needed to work in Croatian. Knowledge of another Slavic language can help you, but you still will have to invest quite a bit of time to get to a decent level.
Language Schools & Courses
Language teaching is starting to pick up in Croatia, as more foreigners move there permanently or purchase property.
There are few language schools teaching Croatian to foreigners – most language schools focus on teaching English to Croatians.
With the growing number of foreigners moving to Croatia permanently, many Croatians are offering private lessons, either one-on-one or in small groups. Private lessons generally cost from €8 to €15 per hour depending on how many you take. They are an ideal (although relatively expensive) way to learn Croatian.
The main advantage of private lessons is that you learn at your own speed, and aren't held back or left floundering in the wake of the class genius.
Look for advertisements locally and in the foreign press as well as on expatriate websites. A good listing of Croatian language teachers can be found on the Language School Teachers website at www.language-school-teachers.com. Don't forget to ask friends, neighbours and colleagues if they can recommend a private teacher.
On your own
It's usually worth purchasing a good English-Croatian dictionary. In Zagreb and in the main tourist towns you should be able to buy phrasebooks and dictionaries from English-language bookshops much cheaper than in your home country.
You may also be able to find Croatian speakers online who will meet in person or through a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) such as Skype to help you practice. In these situations, they will usually help you with Croatian if you help them practice your own language.
Language exchanges usually require a basic amount of language ability, however, and are generally better for practising speaking and learning new vocabulary than learning the entire language and its grammar.
There are several other things you can do to speed up your language learning, including:
- watching television regularly (particularly quiz shows, where the words appear on screen as they're spoken)
- watching DVDs (where you can programme Croatian or English subtitles),
- reading (especially children's books and catalogues, where the words are accompanied by pictures),
- joining a club or association, and (most enjoyable)
- making Croatian friends!