Language and Learning Croatian

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Even though a lot of Croatians speak fluent English and you probably could survive without learning Hrvatski (that’s how Croatians call their language), it would be a shame if you didn’t try, if nothing else, just to marvel at the vast number of barely pronounceable consonant clusters that this Slavic language has in store for you.


Standard Croatian is based on Shtokavian (štokavski) dialect, used by most speakers in Zagreb as well, and there are two additional dialects spoken in Croatia: Chakavian (čakavski) and Kajkavian (kajkavski). The dialects got their names on the basis of the word for “what?” used in that respective dialect, which is što? in Shtokavian, ča? in Chakavian, and kaj? in Kajkavian. The dialects are very different, hence the standardization, otherwise a person from the Dalmatian islands and a person from Zagorje would find it very difficult to understand one another.


Croatian is a Slavic language, so it might be easier for you to understand and learn it if you have had some previous experience in learning Russian or Polish, for example, which are part of the same language family. It’s going to be hard at the beginning because the language is so different than English, which is a Germanic language, and you’ll have to grasp some totally unfamiliar concepts. The most difficult part for most people is the gender (there are 3), which determines the suffixes of many words in your sentence, and the cases (there are 7), which, roughly based on prepositions in front of words, determine an even greater number of suffixes that you need to add to words.


Of course, as with any other language, practice makes perfect, and what better way to practice than by speaking to locals when you go shopping, ordering a meal at a restaurant, or asking for directions on the street. Don’t get (too) frustrated if you don’t get everything right, just keep on trying and you’ll get there. You might even get the ultimate compliment and get mistaken for a local with time.


Put post-it notes around the house and say the names of things out loud, use a children’s dictionary with pictures, watch movies, and listen to music – all these things might sound trivial to you, but they really do make a huge difference.


Most private foreign language schools offer Croatian for foreigners and you can learn it within a group, which is less expensive, or you can have individual lessons, which is more expensive, but also more personal and it can be adjusted to your learning style and speed.


You can find some schools and choose the one closest to you on the map below:

The leading institution in learning Croatian is Croaticum. In addition to semester and monthly courses which cost 700 (A1-C2 levels), this centre also organizes Little Schools of Croatian Language and Culture (450) in winter, summer, and autumn.


Contact details:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Filozofski fakultet)
Ivana Lučića 3
, Zagreb

Administration: Sara Semenski

Room B-103 (Department for Croatian Language and Literature)
Office hours: 
Mon – Fri: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
+385 (1) 6120-068
Email: [email protected]

There is also an e-learning course organized by the University of Zagreb, intended for beginners. It consists of 24 interactive teaching hours with experienced native speakers, over Skype or Webinar. The cost of a semester is 500.


For all detailed information and application form, send an email to: 

or contact


Marija Bošnjak / Lidija Cvikić
University of  Zagreb
Croatian e-learning course 
Email: [email protected]


Lada Kanajet-Šimić
Croatian heritage foundation, Zagreb
Phone: (+385 1) 61 15 116
Email: [email protected]


Loecsen is a very useful website to get you started, or even to practice your Croatian while you learn it. There are quizzes, tests, and mp3 files that you can download and learn and revise wherever you are.


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