This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.


Može jedna gurmanska?

OK, how many of you understand the previous sentence? Or rather, what percentage of the sentence are you familiar with, with no help from google translate or any other digital dictionary. If the answer is none, zip, zero, then read on.

The Sentence Above

A quick course in ordering food. The sentence translates as “Can I have a gourmet burger, please?” with “gurmanska” being a specific type of spiced burger highly regarded in Belgrade. If you, however, go for the like-for-like translation (“Mogu li, molim vas, dobiti jednu gurmansku pljeskavicu?”), you’re sure to get the look of bewilderment from the vendor.

The first one is a lot more informal, more snappy, and simply the right kind of way to order a burger as a Serb. And, besides, you might get extra gravy for putting in the effort.

Language Schools - Yes, or No?

Which goes to show the importance of picking up a language when in another country. Probably the best possible way to acquire a language is mingling with the locals, but there’s no denying that strategic, planned language learning goes a long way.

Luckily, with a massive influx of digital nomads in Belgrade, there’s been a proliferation of schools that offer courses in the Serbian language. These courses are way more extensive than what we provided here in this educational piece, but they also keep things practical. From what we could gather (knowing a teacher or two), the courses focus more on informal, conversational language rather than taking the perfect grammar approach.

Take Your Pick

With the proliferation of schools came the competition between them. We’ve rounded up some schools offering Serbian language courses catered to digital nomads living in Belgrade. No real criteria here; just Google.

EuroSchool Language Center offers Serbian language courses to foreigners and digital nomads of all proficiencies in 3 locations across New Belgrade. Structuring the classes on the technique of RolePlay, their teachers focus more on your understanding and efficiency in everyday communication. Going from beginner to advanced, you’ll learn to present yourself, describe people, write short texts, engage in small talk, and express your opinion on any given subject. It takes time, though.

MLingua Language School can be found in two locations in the so-called older part of the city. Judging by the tone of their website, there is an emphasis on creative teaching methods and an informal approach to language acquisition organized through real-world simulations. The curiosity here is that the classes are led directly in Serbian, with some help from English, German, or Russian. There is a detailed breakdown of what is taught at each of the 4 proficiency levels on the school’s website, so check it out.

Oxford Academy courses, at least based on their website, take themselves a little more seriously. It is geared more toward professionals who plan on staying and growing their businesses in Serbia. There is a more formal approach to grammar which is the preferred way for many students who speak some Serbian but want to grow it further. The great thing about this school is that it offers a placement test on its website, so you can see where you’re at before enrolling.

Advice or Two

A disclaimer for the end. Almost every school offers online classes. Although taking them for individual classes is perfectly fine, our heartfelt advice is to attend group language classes in person. Language learning is all about interaction, which is best-fostered face-to-face.

Also, take 2 classes a week. Less is more when it comes to any language classes.

For more interesting stories, check out our Belgrade Insights page.

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