Intensive Elementary Serbian/Croatian

at the ASU Critical Language Institute


Electronic version is available at:


  1. General Information
  2. ASU Listing: FLA 294, Intensive Elementary Serbian/Croatian, 8 credits,

    Time: June 5 - July 27, 2000; 6:00 - 9:30 p.m., MTWTh,

    Place: Languages and Literatures Building, Room 272

    Instructor: Prof. Danko Sipka (before June 5, 2000) (June5 - July 27, 2000) (after July 27, 2000)

    Home page:

    Please feel free to e-mail me any time you have any questions before, in the course of or after the course

  3. Objectives
  4. Students are expected to acquire level 1+ (elementary proficiency, higher level) language skills as defined by the US Interagency Language Roundtable (IRL). 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


    Information available thorugh the University of Tennesee

    On the Defense Lanugage Institute scale of foreign language complexity, which ranges from 1 (simplest) to 4 (most difficult), the value of Serbo-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.

  5. Methodology
  6. 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

  7. Course Outline
  8. 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 (Fri).

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

  9. Grading policy
  10. 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 %


  11. Course materials
  12. The textbook for this course is Sljivic-Simsic/Price Serbo-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


  13. Schedule

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



Lexical fields



6/5/00 - 6/8/00

(14 hours)

Introduction, Gender, be-copula, Demonstrative pronouns

Common objects, professions, names, greetings

SS Intro


6/12/00 - 6/15/00

(14 hours)

be-Present tense, Personal pronouns, Nouns - genders and plurals, Adjectives and adjective pronouns

Common objects, professions, names, possessives

SS 1-2


6/19/00 - 6/22/00

(14 hours)

Verbs - Present tense, Nouns and pronouns - the Accusative, the Genitive singular, Wh-pronouns, Wh-adverbs, Quantitative adverbs, Prepositions

School, sports and hobbies, kinship terms, plants and animals, seasons, actions, features, directions, numbers 1-10

SS 3-4


6/26/00 - 6/29/00

(14 hours)

Genitive plural, Basic sentence patterns, Agreement of numerals, Functions of the Genitive, Prepositions with the Genitive, Existential constructions, More verbs

Cognitive and affective activities, furniture, garments, days of the week, months, complex numbers

SS 5-6


7/3/00 - 7/6/00

(11.5 hours)

The Past tense, Verb hteti, Aspect

Transportation, trade, banking, communications

SS 7


7/10/00 - 7/13/00

(14 hours)

the Dative/Locative, the Vocative Pronominal forms, Relative pronouns, Imperative, Reflexive pronouns, Impersonal se-constructions

City, landscape, social life, work

SS 8-9


7/17/00 - 7/20/00

(14 hours)

The future tense, Verbal stems, Word order, the Instrumental case

Holidays, tourism, cuisine, body parts

SS 10-11


7/24/00 - 7/27/00

(14 hours)

The Comparison, Collective nouns and numerals

Arts, crafts

SS 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

- Verbal aspect

- Gender

- Accusative

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 Serbo-Croatian links

You can order food from the former Yugoslavia at: