• Bojana

Learning Slovene: An Interview with Bojana Petkovič of Jezikovno Mesto

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

Avtor: JL Flanner: Total Slovenia news



Learning the language is one of the biggest challenges and most rewarding achievements of living in another country. That’s especially true of a minority language like Slovene, with little global presence, a very limited supply of media, and even less motivation to learn if you live in a place, like Ljubljana, where you can get by in English. So we sent some questions to Bojana Petkovič, of the language school Jezikovno Mesto, with branches in Ljubljana and Maribor, to find out more about her work and how she teaches people to speak Slovene.


Učenje jezika je eden največjih izzivov in najodmevnejši dosežek življenja v drugi državi. To še posebej velja za manjšinski jezik, kot je slovenščina, z malo globalne prisotnosti, zelo omejeno ponudbo medijev in še manj motivacije za učenje, če živite v kraju, kot je Ljubljana, kjer se lahko znajdete z angleščino. Zato smo nekaj vprašanj poslali Bojani Petkovič iz jezikovne šole Jezikovno mesto, da bi izvedeli več o njenem delu in kako uči ljudi govoriti slovensko.


How long have you been teaching Slovene, and when did you open your school?

Kako dolgo učite slovenščino in kdaj ste odprli šolo?

I started to teach Slovene 6 years ago. I started to give lessons to Spanish and Czech speaking students, as I studied those two languages at University. Then I had opportunity to teach students who came to EVS exchange, I had two groups in two years and I really enjoyed teaching my native language. I am very touched when I hear my students talking in Slovene.


Slovensko sem začela poučevati pred 6 leti. Začela sem učiti španske in češko govoreče tečajnike, saj sem študirala ta dva jezika na univerzi. Potem sem imela priložnost učiti študente, ki so prišli na izmenjavo EVS, v dveh letih sem imela dve skupini in zelo sem uživala v poučevanju svojega jezika. Zelo me gane, ko slišim, da se tečajniki pogovarjajo v slovenščini.


I teach languages for 12 years. I started when I was student. I had great opportunity to teach in 6 private language schools (at the same time) and also in four public schools (primary school and high school). So I gain a lot of experiences how to teach and I also observed how are courses organised in different schools. Then I decided to open my language school in 2016. I want to offer good experience with learning languages, a lot of opportunities for communication and to get rid of fears talking in foreign language. I am very happy the school is growing so fast and so many people trust us and continue learning in new semesters. Some students are with us for 3 years, improving their language skills.


Jezike poučujem 12 let. Začela sem, ko sem bila študentka. Imel sem čudovito priložnost poučevati v 6 zasebnih jezikovnih šolah (hkrati) in tudi v štirih javnih šolah (osnovna šola in srednja šola). Tako sem pridobila veliko izkušenj, kako poučevati, opazovala pa sem tudi, kako so organizirani tečaji v različnih šolah. Potem sem se odločila, da bom leta 2016 odprla svojo jezikovno šolo. Želim ponuditi dobro izkušnjo z učenjem jezikov, veliko priložnosti za komunikacijo in da se znebimo strahov, ko govorimo v tujem jeziku. Zelo sem vesela, da šola tako hitro raste in da nam toliko ljudi zaupa in nadaljuje z učenjem v novih semestrih. Nekateri tečajniki so z nami že 3 leta in izboljšujejo svoje znanje jezika.


People say that Slovenian is one of the hardest languages to learn. What are your thoughts?

Ljudje pravijo, da je slovenščina eden najtežjih jezikov za učenje. Kaj menite vi?

I partly agree. Every language has its difficulties. As a polyglot (I learned 7 languages) I can compare them. For example, in English is difficult spelling (speaking and writing are not the same), in Slavic languages we have declination (skloni), in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French languages is difficult to choose the right past tense or conjunctive mode. It is true that in Slovene are a lot of combination of endings but it is not impossible to learn. It takes time to improve by speaking.


Delno se strinjam. Vsak jezik ima svoje težave. Kot poliglot (učila sem se 7 jezikov) jih lahko primerjam. Na primer, v angleščini je težko črkovati (govor in pisanje nista enaka), v slovanskih jezikih imamo deklinacijo (skloni), v španskem, italijanskem, portugalskem in francoskem jeziku je težko izbrati pravi pretekli čas ali naklon (konjunktiv). Res je, da je v slovenščini veliko kombinacij končnic, vendar se tega ni nemogoče naučiti. Za izboljšanje govora je potreben čas.



Tell us about the typical experiences of foreigners who come to you to learn Slovenian as total beginners – the problems they face, the things they find easy, when people stop learning, etc.


Povejte nam o tipičnih izkušnjah tujcev, ki pridejo k vam, da se naučijo slovenščine kot čisti začetniki - težave, s katerimi se srečujejo, stvari, ki se jim zdijo enostavne, kdaj se ljudje nehajo učiti itd.


It is true that in Slovene are a lot of combinations of endings but it is not impossible to learn. It takes time to improve by speaking, by using language in everyday situations. Maybe it is difficult also the accent (which is not always on the same syllable). Students learn fast words from everyday vocabulary – what they need (beer, one more please, coffee, bus, …). So we start with topics they are familiar with. Words we use in a context. In our school we prepare materials for playing games and activities and so students are learning in fun way. When people stop learning in the course it is very important that they find people to talk with them in Slovene. It doesn’t matter if they don’t use the right endings, it is about communication in Slovene language. Besides regular courses we also provide courses for conversation, so they can practice and loose their fear of speaking in Slovene.


Res je, da je v slovenščini veliko kombinacij končnic, vendar se tega ni nemogoče naučiti. Potreben je čas za izboljšanje z govorom, z uporabo jezika v vsakdanjih situacijah. Mogoče je težaven tudi naglas (ki ni vedno na istem zlogu). Študentje se hitro naučijo besed iz vsakdanjega besedišča - kaj potrebujejo (pivo, še eno prosim, kava, avtobus,…). Začnemo torej s temami, ki jih poznajo. Besede, ki jih uporabljamo v kontekstu. V naši šoli pripravljamo gradivo za igranje iger in dejavnosti in tako se učenci učijo na zabaven način. Ko se ljudje nehajo učiti na tečaju, je zelo pomembno, da najdejo ljudi, da se z njimi pogovarjajo v slovenščini. Ni pomembno, če ne uporabljajo pravih končnic, ampak da komunicirajo v slovenskem jeziku. Poleg rednih tečajev ponujamo tudi tečaje za konverzacijo, tako da lahko vadijo in izgubijo strah pred govorjenjem v slovenščini.


So many foreigners seem to have a mental block about learning Slovenian, especially if they can live and work here without learning the language. How do you 'unblock' that mentality?


Zdi se, da ima veliko tujcev miselno blokado pri učenju slovenščine, še posebej, če lahko tu živijo in delajo, ne da bi se učili jezika. Kako "odblokirate" to miselnost?


We face with this situation differently. It depends a lot on individual situation. Learning process is very important. We start with basics, with simple words, and then we put words together in a sentence. Later we make simple dialogs. It is important positive feedback from teacher, that students gain confidence. Teachers also appreciate instant feedback from students, so they can adapt lesson to them, maybe they just need different explanation or more exercises. We use a lot of visual material such as pictures, movies, powerpoint, colours, cards. I think the most important thing is that our students feel comfortable in their group. So we laugh, we joke and this positive vibes are very important. Students need to feel need of learning foreign language, otherwise they don’t have motivation. And some of this needs also teachers create with different tasks on the course and after the course (useful homeworks).


Z vsako situacijo se soočamo drugače. Veliko je odvisno od posamezne situacije. Proces učenja je zelo pomemben. Začnemo z osnovami, s preprostimi besedami, nato pa besede sestavimo v stavek. Kasneje naredimo preproste dialoge. Pomembna je pozitivna povratna informacija učitelja, da učenci pridobijo samozavest. Učitelji cenijo tudi takojšnje povratne informacije učencev, da jim lahko pouk prilagodijo, morda le potrebujejo drugačno razlago ali več vaj. Uporabljamo veliko vizualnega gradiva, kot so slike, filmi, powerpoint, barve, kartice. Mislim, da je najpomembnejše, da se naši učenci v svoji skupini počutijo udobno. Tako se smejimo, šalimo in te pozitivne vibracije so zelo pomembne. Učenci morajo čutiti potrebo po učenju tujega jezika, sicer nimajo motivacije. In nekatere od teh potreb učitelji ustvarjajo tudi z različnimi nalogami na tečaju in po tečaju (uporabne domače naloge).



Language errors can be funny. Are there any common one’s that make native speakers laugh?

Jezikovne napake so lahko smešne. Ali obstajajo kakšne običajne, ki nasmejijo naravne govorce?

Oh, there are plenty of them and they are cute. For example, word “krožek” (circle meeting, or after-school activity for children in school) is sometimes mixed up with “krožnik” (a plate).

Oh, ogromno jih je in luštne so. Na primer, beseda "krožek" (srečanje v krožku ali obšolska dejavnost za otroke v šoli) se včasih pomeša z "krožnik" (plate).


What do you find difficult about speaking English?

Kaj se vam zdi težko pri angleščini?


I think the spelling / writing is pretty difficult. Also pronunciation of words is different as in many European languages. English has a lot of synonyms and use a lot of phrasal verbs (look for, look forward, look out, look up …). And different accents - British English, American English and a lot of foreigners speaking English has its own versions.


Mislim, da je črkovanje / pisanje precej težavno. Tudi izgovorjava besed je različna kot v mnogih evropskih jezikih. Angleščina ima veliko sinonimov in uporablja veliko fraznih glagolov (look for, look forward, look out, look up / iščite, veselite se, pazite, poglejte…). In različne verzije - britanska angleščina, ameriška angleščina in veliko tujcev, ki govorijo angleško, imajo svoje različice.


Learning Slovene is a serious business. Why should people sign up for a course, and what’s on offer with your language school?

Učenje slovenščine je resen posel. Zakaj bi se ljudje prijavili na tečaj in kaj ponujate v vaši jezikovni šoli?

First of all, they need a desire to learn, they need to feel that they need this language. To go to good language course is a shortcut to learn faster new language. It is awesome that students can learn language from their experiences (and we also very support learning outside the classroom, observing signs, listening to people, reading articles in Slovene, listening to the radio), but it is easier if someone prepares material for you and guides you through the learning process. In my language school Jezikovno Mesto we organise group courses and individual courses. We have courses for beginners, intermediate levels, we prepare for certificate A2/B1 and B2/C1 and also very popular is the course of conversation (Pogovarjajmo se po slovensko). We are teaching in small groups (4 - 8 students) so the teacher can dedicate to every student. As I mentioned before we use communicative methods, we prepare activities, so students can learn by playing games and trying to do different tasks in pairs or in smaller groups. The material we prepare is based in everyday life situations and it is for all three types of students: Visual ones (they need to see), Kinesthetic (they need to move or to touch material, “words” on cards) and Auditive (they need to hear).


Najprej potrebujejo željo po učenju, čutijo, da potrebujejo ta jezik. Hoditi na dober tečaj tujega jezika je bližnjica do hitrejšega učenja novega jezika. Čudovito je, da se lahko učenci naučijo jezika iz svojih izkušenj (zelo podpiramo učenje zunaj učilnice, opazovanje znakov, poslušanje ljudi, branje člankov v slovenščini, poslušanje radia), vendar je lažje, če nekdo pripravi gradivo za vas in vas vodi skozi proces učenja. V naši jezikovni šoli Jezikovno Mesto organiziramo skupinske tečaje in individualne tečaje. Imamo tečaje za začetnike, vmesne stopnje, pripravljamo se na certifikate A2 / B1 in B2 / C1, zelo priljubljen pa je tudi tečaj konverzacije (Pogovarjajmo se po slovensko). Poučujemo v majhnih skupinah (4 - 8 učencev), tako da se lahko učitelj posveti vsakemu učencu. Kot sem že omenila, uporabljamo komunikativne metode, pripravljamo aktivnosti, tako da se lahko učenci učijo z igranjem iger in poskusom opravljanja različnih nalog v parih ali v manjših skupinah. Gradivo, ki ga pripravljamo, temelji na vsakodnevnih življenjskih situacijah in je namenjeno vsem trem vrstam učencev: vizualnim (morajo videti ), kinestičnim (premikati se morajo ali se dotikati materiala, "besede" na karticah) in avdiovizualni (morajo slišati).


What’s your advice for people learning Slovenian and thinking about giving up?

Kaj svetujete ljudem, ki se učijo slovenščine in razmišljajo, da bi odnehali?

They can find out what they already know and they can use this as a basis, to encourage themselves it is not impossible to learn. Stop comparing themselves to other students (everybody has its own path). Find new reasons to continue with learning. Maybe find some interesting TV serial, some new person to talk to, watching TV in Slovene, watching your favourite movie and reading subtitles in Slovene. It is important to have good attitude to Slovene language. And of course go to group course, so the group will support you and teacher will lead you to the next level. Have fun!


Lahko ugotovijo, kaj že vedo, in to lahko uporabijo kot osnovo, da se spodbujajo, da se ni nemogoče naučiti. Nehajte se primerjati z drugimi tečajniki (vsak ima svojo pot). Poiščite nove razloge za nadaljevanje učenja. Mogoče poiščite kakšno zanimivo TV serijo, kakšno novo osebo, s katero bi se pogovarjali, gledali televizijo v slovenščini, gledali vaš najljubši film in brali podnapise v slovenščini. Pomemben je dober odnos do slovenskega jezika. In seveda pojdite na skupinski tečaj, tako da vas bo skupina podprla, učitelj pa vas bo popeljal na naslednjo stopnjo. Zabavajte se!



What are some Slovenian cultural products that foreigners who learn the language should be aware of? (especially books, music, TV shows, etc)


Kateri so slovenski kulturni izdelki, ki bi jih morali poznati tujci, ki se učijo jezika? (zlasti knjige, glasba, TV-oddaje itd.)


I like the book of Noah Charney – Slovenologija (they should read it first in English and then in Slovene).

It is about his experiences becoming Slovenian husband. Now is also very popular book “Belo se pere na 90” (Bronja Žakelj). For youngsters were popular books of Desa Muck. But here are many good books – also depends on level of slovene language and the age of reader. I think we have a lot of good music in Slovene. Of course, we are listening slovenian songs in courses. For example: Nina Pušlar, Tabu, Alya, Siddharta, Vlado Kreslin, Big foot mama, Kingston, Dan D, …


Všeč mi je knjiga Noaha Charneyja - Slovenologija (svetujem najprej branje v angleščini in nato seveda v slovenščini). Gre za njegove izkušnje, kako je postal slovenski mož. Zdaj je zelo priljubljena tudi knjiga Belo se pere na 90 (Bronja Žakelj). Za mladino so bile priljubljene knjige Desa Muck. Tu pa je veliko dobrih knjig - odvisno je tudi od stopnje slovenskega jezika in starosti bralca. Mislim, da imamo v slovenščini veliko dobre glasbe. Seveda na tečajih poslušamo slovenske pesmi. Na primer: Nina Pušlar, Tabu, Alya, Siddharta, Vlado Kreslin, mama Big Foot, Kingston, Dan D,…



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