February 26, 2018
One of the fastest ways to start picking up a language is to learn ‘chunks’ – groups of words that often appear together, like collocations or grammatical structures – without thinking too much about the underlying components. You can learn “rad bi X” means “I’d like X” and then just put whatever you want in the final position (we’re not worrying about declensions / skloni today), with “ne bi rad X” meaning “I’d not like X”.
A good place to look for things like this is in phrasebooks, which lack the detailed grammar notes or systematic progression that you’d find in a textbook, while being full of useful sentences that you can break down into chunks, along with themed vocabulary lists.
The book we’re looking at today is the 12.50 EUR Slovene Phrase Book, by Nika Leben and Charles I. Abramson, although I think almost any phrasebook is worth a look for the reasons set out here, with much to teach anyone who isn’t functionally fluent yet, and offering some nice, positive reinforcement if you already know a lot of what it contains. Once, some months or years before, the whole book would have been a mystery, but now you actually know things – a nice feeling and sense of achievement.
There are a few typos in English (phare instead of fare), and perhaps also in Slovene, but this is not a book for speaking like a native or getting everything right, more a quick way into the language before you take the next steps using other materials, honing your skills, addressing your mistakes, and eventually mastering skloni (still beyond me, I confess, although I’m trying to learn these in chunks now, not in tables).
Any phrasebook will cover more or less the same materials, and this one has sections on common expressions, exchanging basic information, travel, dining and food, telephone communications, shopping, services, health and medicine, entertainment and recreation, emergencies and a mini dictionary.
So whether you’re just starting out with the language, or can get by in certain contexts but struggle in others, I recommended picking up a book like this, often found in second-hand stores, and looking inside. It might be just what you need to fill certain gaps in your knowledge.
Earlier posts in this series: