Intensive Intermediate Bosnia{c/n}/Croatian/Serbian

at the ASU Department of Languages and Literatures


  1. General Information

ASU Listing : BCS 101 (Fall), BCS 102 (Spring), 4+4 credits,

NB: This course is offered in the fall and spring only, not in the summer

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Introductory Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian Chat

Introductory Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian Bulletin Board

  1. Objectives

Students are expected to acquire level 1+ in reading (limited working proficiency, with other skills exceeding level 1) language skills as defined by the US Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR). This level of proficiency corresponds to the high intermediate level as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This assumes the following skills:


Sufficient comprehension to understand short conversations about all survival needs and limited social demands. Developing flexibility evident in understanding into a range of circumstances beyond immediate survival needs. Shows spontaneity in understanding by speed, although consistency of understanding uneven. Limited vocabulary range necessitates repetition for understanding. Understands more common time forms and most question forms, some word order patterns, but miscommunication still occurs with more complex patterns. Cannot sustain understanding of coherent structures in longer utterances or in unfamiliar situations. Understanding of descriptions and the giving of precise information is limited. Aware of basic cohesive features; e.g., pronouns, verb inflections, but many are unreliably understood, especially if less immediate in reference. Understanding is largely limited to a series of short, discrete utterances. Still has to ask for utterances to be repeated. Some ability to understand the facts.


Sufficient comprehension to understand simple discourse in printed form for informative social purposes. Can read material such as announcements of public events, simple prose containing biographical information or narration of events, and straightforward newspaper headlines. Can guess at unfamiliar vocabulary if highly contextualized, but with difficulty in unfamiliar contexts. Can get some main ideas and locate routine information of professional significance in more complex texts. Can follow essential points of written discussion at an elementary level on topics in his/her special professional field. In commonly taught languages, the individual may not control the structure well. For example, basic grammatical relations are often misinterpreted, and temporal reference may rely primarily on lexical items as time indicators. Has some difficulty with the cohesive factors in discourse, such as matching pronouns with referents. May have to read materials several times for understanding.


Can initiate and maintain predictable face-to-face conversations and satisfy limited social demands. He/she may, however, have little understanding of the social conventions of conversation. The interlocutor is generally required to strain and employ real-world knowledge to understand even some simple speech. The speaker at this level may hesitate and may have to change subjects due to lack of language resources. Range and control of the language are limited. Speech largely consists of a series of short, discrete utterances. Examples: The individual is able to satisfy most travel and accommodation needs and a limited range of social demands beyond exchange of skeletal biographic information. Speaking ability may extend beyond immediate survival needs. Accuracy in basic grammatical relations is evident, although not consistent. May exhibit the more common forms of verb tenses, for example, but may make frequent errors in formation and selection. While some structures are established, errors occur in more complex patterns. The individual typically cannot sustain coherent structures in longer utterances or unfamiliar situations. Ability to describe and give precise information is limited. Person, space, and time references are often used incorrectly. Pronunciation is understandable to natives used to dealing with foreigners. Can combine most significant sounds with reasonable comprehensibility, but has difficulty in producing certain sounds in certain positions or in certain combinations. Speech will usually be labored. Frequently has to repeat utterances to be understood by the general public.


Sufficient control of writing system to meet most survival needs and limited social demands. Can create sentences and short paragraphs related to most survival needs (food, lodging, transportation, immediate surroundings and situations) and limited social demands. Can express fairly accurate present and future time. Can produce some past verb forms but not always accurately or with correct usage. Can relate personal history, discuss topics such as daily life, preferences, and very familiar material. Shows good control of elementary vocabulary and some control of basic syntactic patterns, but major errors still occur when expressing more complex thoughts. Dictionary usage may still yield incorrect vocabulary or forms, although the individual can use a dictionary to advantage to express simple ideas. Generally cannot use basic cohesive elements of discourse to advantage (such as relative constructions, object pronouns, connectors, etc.). Can take notes in some detail on familiar topics, and respond to personal questions using elementary vocabulary and common structures. Can write simple letters, summaries of biographical data and work experience with fair accuracy. Writing, though faulty, is comprehensible to native speakers used to dealing with foreigners.

This level of proficiency, as defined for the purposes of this course, stipulates acquisition of all regular and frequent irregular grammatical patterns, the 1,500-unit lexical minimum (with at least 500 units used in speech production), and an array of common pragmatic patterns.

Take a look at the IRL scale, justification behind it and elaborate description of the levels:

Information available through the Summer Institute of Linguistics

On the Defense Language Institute scale of foreign language complexity, which ranges from 1 (simplest) to 4 (most difficult), the value of Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian is three, with only languages such as Arabic, Korean, Japanese and Chinese being more difficult. Ample individual work will be needed to reach the desired level during a two-month course.

In addition, this course should empower its student to be able to recognize common knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral patterns of the region, and to behave (verbally and non-verbally) in compliance with such cultural norms. In other words, students should develop elementary cultural competence. This assumes the knowledge of a catalog of the most important facts in both high and everyday culture.

Finally, students will be given an opportunity to acquire certain basic facts relevant to their interests. It is expected that two principal groups of students at this course will be heritage learners and Slavists.

  1. Methodology

The course will principally use the communicative contrastive approach. Elements of grammar-and-text methodology will be mediated by simplified decision-making schemata and heuristics. Special emphasis will be put on the cross-cultural differences. See the explanation of how schemata and heuristics have been used in teaching morphology at

  1. Course Outline

The coursework consists of the following: a. classes centered around the textbook with ample role-playing exercises (Mon-Thu), b. homework assignments (Mon-Wed), c. individual audio and computer lab work (Mon-Fri).

The course will encourage cooperative rather than competitive relations among students in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

  1. Grading policy

Students will be graded on the A (excellent) to E (fail) scale depending on proficiency level reached, as defined by the ACTFL.

See the description of these levels at the SIL pages.



Percentage of the required skills


Intermediate - high

90 % and above


Intermediate - mid

80 % and above


Intermediate - low

60 % and above


Novice - high

40 % and above


Novice - mid

39 % and below

The coursework will contribute toward the final grade approximately as follows:

Attendance and participation:

20 %


15 %


15 %

Midterm exam:

20 %

Final exam:

30 %

  1. Course materials

The textbook for this course is Sljivic-Simsic/Price Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian Just for You, 2 vols, OSU, 1985. The textbook will be supplemented by additional texts and multimedia materials, primarily available on-line. Although the textbook contains a glossary, students are encouraged to obtain a SerboCroatian - English and English - SerboCroatian dictionary, preferably Morton Benson's. Students should have at least one hundred sheets of paper, index cards, black and red pencils, as well as markers. Ample material is available on-line (see H. below). You can also order both Benson's dictionary and Sljivic-Smsic/Price's book at

  1. Schedule

Q=Quiz, ME=Midterm Exam, FE=Final Exam, SS=Sljivic-Simsic/Price's book




Lexical fields






(15 hours)

General information about the language and the region

Pronunciation and spelling rules (Latin script, with Cyrillic script offered facultatively); Verb to be in the present tense; Demonstrative adverbs; Gender of the nouns

common objects; professions; pronouns; spatial designations

Greeting; Introducting oneself and others; Taking leave of somebody; Pointing

Correspondence between characters and sounds; Spelling of personal pronouns

SS Intro



(15 hours)

Regions, major centers; Ethnic and religious affiliation; Differences in attitudinal and behavioral patterns

Gender of the Nouns and Adjectives; Matching the Gender of the Adjectives with the Gender of the Nouns; Number of the Nouns and Adjectives; Matching the Number and the Gender the Adjectives with the Number and the Gender of the Nouns; Adjectives vs. Adjectival Pronouns; Exceptions in Noun and Adjective forms; Verb to be in the negative and iterrogative form

common objects, professions; ethnic and religious designation; names; possessives; features; colors; intensifiers

Expressing features and qualities; Expressing posession; Asking about professions, ethnic and religious background; Affirming and negating; Contrasting

Spelling of ethnic and religious designations; Ekavian vs ijekavian form

SS 1-2



(15 hours)

School system; Popular athletes and teams; Flora and fauna of the region; Climate and Weather

Verbs, Present Tense – affirmative, interrogative, negative; Cases, General; Accusative; Wh-pronouns and adverbs; Quantitative adverbs; Prepositions with the Accusative

School subjects and coursework; Sports and hobbies; Kinship terms; Plants and animals; Basic actions; Directions; Numerals; Days of the week; Months

Relating about actions and states; Expressing relations; Expressing time; Quantifying

Spelling of school subjects, days of the week, months; Spelling of the negation; Spelling of the particle li

SS 3-4



(15 hours)

Social and health care system; Further attitudinal and behavioral differences; Conceptualizing differences

Genitive; Basic sentence patterns; Agreement of the numerals; Prepositions with the Genitive; Existential constructions; Verbal aspect – preliminaries

Cognitive and affective processes; Home and furniture; Garments; Basic medical terms; Body parts

Expressing liking and disliking; Maintaining the stream of conversation; Asking more complex questions

Word stress; Sentence prosody

SS 5-6



(12 hours)

Transportaion infrastructure; Major cities; Major companies; Condtions of work

Verbs, the Past Tense; The Dative/Locative; Relative Pronouns

Transportation; City; Lanscape; Social life; Work

Inviting; Thanking; Relating about past events

Word order; Spelling of the enclitics

SS 7



(15 hours)

Forms of shopping; Culture of shopping; Banks; Telecommunications; TV and Radio Stations

The Imperative; The Vocative; Reflexive pronouns; Impersonal se-constructions; Accusative and Dative Logical Subjects

Shopping; Groceries; Banking, monetary units; Post office, Internet; TV and radio

Requesting; Issuing commands, giving directions; Expressing satisfaction and dissatisfaction


SS 8-9



(15 hours)

Ethnic foods and drinks; Major tourist points of interest; Popular music

The Future Tense; The Instrumental Case; Adverbs

Sightseeing; Restaurtants, bars, etc.; Cuisine

Promissing, giving assurances; Proposing and declining; Indicating mood

Spelling of the Future Tense

SS 10-11



(15 hours)

Major artists and work of art; Musical traditions; Ethnic crafts; Major religious holidays and practices

  The Comparative; The Conditional Mood; Collective Nouns and Numerals

Arts; Crafts; Holidays; Religions and religious life

Comparing; Indicating possibility; Indicating causes and consequences

Pronunciation and spelling of č,ć,dž,đ

SS 12

Q: Fri


(15 hours)

Final review

Final review, social events

Final review, social events

Final review, social events

Final review, social events

SS 1-12



E. Links to Course and Post-Course Materials

Check this section from time to time! More links to come in June and July!

Get your fonts and keyboard drivers at: or at:

Lexical and pragmatic formulae lists

Grammar aids

On-line dictionaries

Practice final exams

Test # 1

Test # 2

On-line excercises

Lexical Drills


Grammar Drills

Text Comprehension

Listening Comprehension

Map orientation

Evaluated Drills

Send-out Forms

Answer keys to Šljivić-Šimšić

-         Second book, Lesson 7

-         Second book, Lessons 8 and 9

Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian Corpora and Frequency Lists



Bosnian Muslim:

Turbo Serbo FAQ

General information



(ample real audio recordings, contemorarry Serbian, Croatian, and Bosniam Muslim music)

Serbian Orthodox Chants


Serbian Cafee

South-Slavic Lists

South Slavic Library

Language schools in the former Yugoslavia

General Slavic Resources





Slavic Departments in German-Speaking Countries and Worldwide

Canadian Slavic Association




Miscellaneous Bosnia{c/n}/Serbian/Croatian links

You can order food from the former Yugoslavia at: