Soon to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Croatian Language School [CLS] has expanded steadily, without losing its personal and professional touch. Virtual, live lessons on Skype have long since increased CLS’s reach internationally, and bases in Zagreb and Lošinj allow the school to offer immersion courses in the Croatian language to accelerate learning.
Combine a family holiday on Lošinj, now one of Croatia’s best loved islands, with improving your general linguistic skills or business terminology. Read on to find out more about this unique organisation and how it shares its love and knowledge of the Croatian language and culture so diversely.
Croatia declared independence in June 1991. Just six years later, when Croatia was still relatively unknown as a country, let alone a tourist destination, Linda Rabuzin founded the Croatian Language School in London. Even in those early days, Linda’s unique blend of professionalism, innovation, empathy, good humour and patience, attracted and nurtured students from all walks of life. Many of these early students remain special friends of the school today and the “family” continues to expand, year on year.
This “family” atmosphere is further engendered by the ongoing annual Croatian Language and Culture Summer Trips – week-long visits, normally in June, to different parts of the Croatian Coastline (and, once, inland, to Slavonia and Baranja). Language lessons, for all levels of proficiency, fit around guided visits from regional experts, to explore the best, and not always the most well-known, parts of local culture. This year’s trip focused on Kvarner and Gorski kotar and plans are already well advanced for next year’s adventure around the islands of Vis and Lastovo. You’ll find blogs on most of the recent trips on the CLS website.
With technological advances like Skype, and then Zoom, Facetime and Teams, came the diversification of the school into online learning: “live” interactive lessons with all the benefits of “in person” teaching but none of the downsides of travelling to, or across, London. Now, students driven by any number of different reasons for learning Croatian, connect with CLS from all over the world to speed up their learning and find the tools to make a difficult language seem that much easier to learn. Many have tried other methods of study before they find CLS – classroom learning, Apps, Teach Yourself books, or the “Dive Straight In” method; often they flounder, but breathe a sigh of relief when they find CLS. Finally, some of the grammar starts to make sense, there’s a patient expert at hand, and there’s a pattern of learning which makes advancement quicker.
It wasn’t long before the CLS team felt there was more they could offer to facilitate the language learning journey. Many students were learning the language because they visited, or wanted to visit, Croatia, or even take up permanent residence there; some were doing business in Croatia and felt a better command of the language would help, and a few wanted more intensive learning to speed up their progress. So a base in Croatia seemed like a good idea and the capital, Zagreb, was an obvious first choice, for an all year round location. Lovely as Zagreb is, though, it’s not the ideal Croatian location for the summer and the world is just discovering where is: Lošinj of course.
Again CLS was well ahead of the pack, acquiring its base on the then relatively undiscovered island of Lošinj in 2006. Now Lošinj, with a climate known for its health giving properties, is one of Croatia’s most sought-after islands, and the CLS Summer School offers the best of all worlds: situated in the quiet village of Ćunski, it’s well off the beaten track but close to all the essential facilities – a small supermarket, restaurant, coffee shop, post office and a very secluded beach. You won’t find many tourists here and if you want to practice your Croatian between lessons, with the locals, they will welcome your efforts to try and speak their language. In between your morning and afternoon lessons you can head down to the well-hidden beach, but if you want something a bit livelier in the evening, it’s just a twenty minute drive to the tourist town of Mali Lošinj which has everything you could possibly want, including a huge choice of restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, bakeries and ice cream parlours.
There’s time to explore further afield too – Veli Lošinj (actually quite a bit smaller than “Mali”) offers a more sedate kind of charm; Osor, on Cres island (connected to Lošinj by a road bridge), has some magnificent statues amongst its gorgeous old buildings and is also notable for its July music evenings. And there are plenty of small settlements nearby, with their own beaches, cafes and distinct character, just waiting to be explored.
What To Expect From A Week Long Immersion Course In Lošinj
Linda Rabuzin explains briefly how the lessons work:
“Every student is different and we try and establish exactly what each student needs before we suggest a particular course. There are degrees of intensity depending on how much capacity the student has for learning each day, although we suggest a minimum of one double lesson in the morning and another one in the afternoon. Each lesson is a minimum of 45 minutes and there may be small amounts of homework in between classes, just to reinforce and consolidate the learning, so that’s already up to four hours each day. However, that still leaves plenty of time for swimming, water sports and exploring and it’s a great environment for absorbing knowledge easily.
Students tell me that the lessons fly by and I try and keep them fun, varied and tailored personally to each student. For those with a general interest in the Croatian language, we might write a letter to a Croatian friend, do some translation work, have a brief conversation about what to do in the evening, follow a text book for comprehension and vocabulary, or play some games, or read a Croatian newspaper; for students with a professional or business interest in Croatia, who already have an intermediate level of knowledge of the Croatian language, during a one or two week tailored programme, we would work on their business vocabulary, report and proposal writing, and reading for professional purposes.
Of course it needs to be structured, but that’s my challenge and, if I succeed, the students don’t notice the structure, just, all of a sudden, that they are quickly becoming more fluent and understanding the logic behind some of the rules, as well as having fun.
Yes, Croatian is a difficult language, with many different word endings, but if you get into a pattern of learning, things quickly become more straightforward. I do gently insist that my students learn the language correctly and please don’t believe anyone who tells you that the endings don’t matter. Your Croatian friends will quickly correct you, or switch to speaking English, if you keep getting them wrong.”
Linda also tells us that it is possible for two people to take the same course, with the second student at half price, but it’s a great help if they are roughly the same level and learn at a similar pace.
What Some of CLS’s Students Say
Ashley: The courses definitely met my expectations and more! I’ve discovered that Croatian is really a language that you need to learn from a professional. While some languages people can pick up, the grammar is far too complicated to teach yourself. Linda’s methods of explaining and teaching me have really made my life so much easier here in Croatia! I am forever grateful.
Grant: CLS has been excellent, patient, dedicated and professional at all times which has made the learning experience really nice. I enjoy the lessons as they are always an efficient use of our time which is perfect for me as it fits into a busy lifestyle with work and family.
Christian: Lošinj is a marvellous, breathtakingly beautiful place with nice beaches and crystal clear blue-green water. Learning at such a beautiful place certainly contributed to my learning success at the Croatian Language School in Lošinj. Linda is a fantastic, patient and very experienced teacher and she makes you progress rapidly. Learning with her moves you beyond your limits. No book or online course can replace the personal face-to-face interaction, where an hour of real conversation is equal to ten on-line hours.
Sara and Chris: Over the past four years, Chris and I have had further Skype lessons with Linda and attended three more of the Summer Language and Culture Courses in various parts of Croatia. The Skype lessons suit us very well as we can take the lessons whenever and wherever we are working. We also try to practice speaking Croatian as much as possible. We have found Croatian much harder to learn than other languages but now feel we are able to hold a conversation with locals and, most importantly, make a joke and have a laugh with them… humour is very important in breaking down cultural barriers. Also, Croatians really appreciate the fact that we are making the effort to speak their language.
Travel, Accommodation And Other Logistics
There are so many different ways of getting to Lošinj that it’s worth taking some time to explore the different options. For example, there’s a slow but delightful car ferry, between Zadar and Lošinj, a few times a week depending on the season, which stops at some of the more remote islands. Or you could get a flight to Rijeka or Pula airport from where it’s a shortish drive.
Whatever the budget, there are plenty of accommodation options, from Airbnb, through self-catering apartments, to five-star hotels with spa, and CLS is more than happy to help in finding the right kind of accommodation.
As far as leisure and entertainment is concerned, again CLS can advise if necessary. However, there is no shortage of good tourist agencies in Mali Lošinj and always plenty to do. Just recently, tennis star and coach to Roger Federer, Ivan Ljubičić, has set up a tennis academy in Mali Lošinj, so if you wanted to combine sport and language learning, that could be a unique option!
Contact The Croatian Language School
The CLS website www.easycroatian.com has details of all courses and options. More than that there is a section of detailed interviews with a number of students [ https://www.easycroatian.com/case-studies/ ] some of whom have already undertaken an immersion course on Lošinj. There you will get a real flavour of how each course is individually tailored and how rewarding the students have found their studies. And if you want to check out the annual Culture and Language Summer Trips, follow this link: https://www.easycroatian.com/courses/language-and-culture/
Full contact details are as below:
Croatian Language School Limited
Registered in England & Wales: 07317118
Mob: +44 (0) 7948 699 345
Email: [email protected]
Some Useful Websites For Lošinj
And, finally, here is just a taste of what leading tourist industry commentators are saying about Lošinj:
The island of Lošinj is Croatia’s best kept secret.
At the end of a long narrow bay on the island of Losinj in the north Adriatic Sea, Mali Lošinj is known for its large harbour and pretty promenade. This relatively quiet island is rather picturesque with its now-muted but still colourful sea captains’ houses lining the seafront, as well as its amazing aromatic gardens and wellness offering.
Best for pampering: Lošinj
Few Croatian destinations have changed as much as Lošinj, an island that transformed itself from two-and-a-half star family package resort to five-star lap of luxury in only a handful of years. The key component in Lošinj’s makeover is the provision of a broad palette of spa and beauty treatments, many of which owe at least something to the island’s extraordinary natural treasury of medicinal plants and aromatic herbs.
Best for families: Lošinj
Lošinj prides itself on “wellness and vitality” holidays, but also boasts plenty of activities, including diving, tennis and watersports. It’s also easy to take day trips with a number of different outlying islands.
*This article includes sponsored content