Welcome to Zagreb!
Language holidays in the age of COVID
In a normal year, our school organises a language holiday for each season, however since the beginning of 2020 COVID has preventing us from doing so. As a result we were even more excited than usual to have the chance to teach again in person for Advent 2021.
In December 2021 14 learners from 6 different countries took part. Until the last minute, changing restrictions and rules relating to the Coronavirus made organisation difficult*, however we were able to go ahead with the course as planned.
*We were extra careful throughout the week, with regular testing, and facemasks where required.
Walking tour of Zagreb
Our week started on Sunday, with a walking tour, during which course participants got to know the city of Zagreb, each other, and of course also learn some Croatian along the way.
Our tour guide Vesna kicked off her tour with a BANG! in front of the Croatian National Theatre "HNK" (Hrvatsko narodno kazalište), telling us the story about the hammer which Franz Joseph, the emperor of Austro-Hungarian Empire, banged to mark the opening of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.
During his visit to the city in 1895, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I was present at the unveiling of the newly-built Croatian National Theatre. The structure was designed by renowned Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, whose firm had previously designed several theatres in Vienna.
Vesna continued to entertain us with interesting stories as we walked around Zagreb.
We visited the city centre, searched around the town for hidden planets, rode the funicular railway (uspinjača) (to the upper town (gornji grad), explored the church of St. Marko and learned all about the history of the Croatian capital.
After about 2 hours we finished our tour of Zagreb ... tired but happy
Groups based on ability
The language course began in earnest on Monday morning at 9am.
Participants were divided in terms of their knowledge of Croatian into three groups, and our teachers Barbara, Anđela and Maja led the students in each group to their designated classroom – and so the educational part of the language holiday got started.
Participants in our language holidays are divided into beginners (A1), intermediate (A2/B1) and advanced (B2) learning groups based on their existing knowledge of Croatian. Based on demand we sometimes organise an additional conversational group (B2+) for learners that are nearing fluency.
The beginners' group
The beginners group was made up of Bea, Sebastian, Katja, Paul and Rudolf with their teacher Barbara.
This group spent their week learning the basics of Croatian vocabulary and grammar, phrases to get by every day and communicate about food, travelling, family and much more.
They played games and twisted their tongues with tongue twisters. Would you be able to say this sentence quickly at least three times without getting your tongue twisted?
Petar Petru plete petlju ... ?!
The intermediate group
The intermediate group was made up of Jason, Ilka and Hans with their teacher Anđela.
This group spent their week learning how to communicate and use grammar to be the best tourist in Croatia, how to shop, talk about hobbies, holidays and customs during Christmas time. They listened to dialogues and read stories, talked to each other and worked together to create interesting conversations.
The advanced group
The advanced group was made up of Stella, Dirk, Christian, Lena, Nataša and Cindy with their teacher Maja (aka me ).
This group focused on Croatian conversation and Maja made use of various methods from her background in drama/acting. The course covered topics such as making life decisions, discussing situations that could have happened differently and traditions.
They acted a bit, dramatised, wrote poems (!) and explored Croatian culture.
Visiting the ethnographic museum
Since the theme of this year's advent is toys (igračke) and childhood memories (djetinjstvo), during the language holiday we took our students to the Zagreb Ethnographic museum (etnografski muzej) where a special toy exhibition was being held.
We saw different wooden toys, dolls, games and cartoons from our childhood. After the sentimental exhibition we held a workshop where each of us painted our own wooden horse! It awakened the child within all of us! :)
Christmas treasure hunt
All of the students also had a special weekly project - a Christmas Treasure Hunt called Zagrebat ću Zagreb.
The word “zagrebat” means to scratch and since the treasure hunt involved exploring Zagreb and the verb contains the word Zagreb in it it served as a great word-play (credits to Višnja Jukić, another Croatian teacher who greatly supports our work).
Students had to solve riddles and then take a photo in the right spot in Zagreb, record themselves singing or reciting songs, send postcards from Zagreb and similar.
The winner was the group that solved the most riddles correctly! :)
Thanks and goodbye! (for 2021)
On the last day of the language holiday the students held a presentation for the rest of the group to show what they had learned during the week. Finally all of the participants received their diplomas to confirm that they had passed the course!
Thanks to everyone that took part, we had a great week!