Written by: Olivera Tolimir

Do you enjoy writing your goals in a planner but end up disappointed because you didn’t accomplish half of your list?

If the answer is yes, chances are you have a great potential to be well organized but make a common mistake of being unrealistic. Everyone would like to finish a month-worth of work in two days, but unfortunately, it’s impossible.

Being realistic while planning your work is extremely important when learning a new language. If you just started learning Serbian and intend to achieve B2 level in two months, we have to disappoint you: it’s not going to happen. And the problem is not you – it’s the wrong starting point.

If you start to learn Serbian too ambitiously, you’ll quickly lose motivation. Why? Because you won’t be able to fulfill your goals, which will make you think Serbian is impossible to learn. But that’s not true.

On the other hand, if you start by learning once every two weeks, you also won’t accomplish much. It’s because you’ll forget speaking Serbian by the time of your next class.

So, what’s the solution here? It’s to find the right pace. Let’s find out together what that might be.

Setting goals is crucial when learning Serbian!
Setting goals is crucial when learning Serbian!

How Many Words Should I Learn a Day?

“Is it 20? No, I should double it up! Or maybe… How about 50?”

We all went through this thought process. “How many words should I memorize daily to make my learning efficient?”

The truth is – there’s no right answer. You do whatever works for you. But keep in mind that by learning 40 words a day, you’re supposed to memorize 1200 new words every month and 14600 words annually! It seems a bit much, considering that educated native speakers often don’t know more than 30000 words. And they’ve been learning the language their whole life!

Because of this, it’s more reasonable not to set a goal of a certain number of words to remember. But what to do instead?

Flashcards are a great way to learn new words at the beginning of your journey to learn Serbian. But don’t make them unrelated to one another. If you want to learn to talk about your family, write down words such as “mama” (mom), “tata” (dad), “brat” (brother), “sestra” (sister), “porodica” (family), “mlađi / mlađa” (younger), “stariji / starija” (older), etc. 

The next step in learning Serbian is to put those words together. If you have an older sister and a younger brother, you need the phrases “starija sestra” and “mlađbrat“. If you have a younger sister and an older brother, you should use “mlađa sestra” and “stariji brat“.

As you probably know, the noun sestra belongs to the feminine gender (it ends in –a), while the noun brat belongs to the masculine gender (it ends in a consonant). For these reasons, adjectives that describe them have to belong to the same gender. So, when you talk about your sister, you should say either “starija” or “mlađa“, and when talking about your brother, it’s either “stariji” or “mlađi“.

When you’ve learned what form of an adjective to use, you can focus on making sentences. You’re now supposed to practice speaking Serbian by saying something about your younger brother. For example, My younger brother is tall sounds like this in Serbian: Moj mlađi brat je visok. If your older sister is the tall one, you’ll say, Moja starija sestra je visokaAgain, visok(a) is an adjective, so it has to belong to the same gender as the noun we’re describing.

You get what we’re trying to say, right? Instead of planning how many words you’ll memorize each day, it’s better to pace learning Serbian by dedicating (for example) three days to one lesson. During these three days, you can focus on learning new words, listening, reading, and speaking Serbian. This way, you’ll become able to communicate about the chosen matter, not only recognize the words!

How Much Time Will I Need per Lesson?

As we said, the three days per lesson was just an example. How many hours or days you’ll need to be sure of yourself when speaking Serbian depends on various factors. It depends on your previous knowledge, the free time you have at your disposal, your motivation, and how interesting you find the topic itself.

You’ll find out that for some lessons you’ll need a lot less time than the others. It’s normal, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t strictly plan a date and time when you’ll achieve the A2 level.

Also, a crucial thing many forget when planning their process of learning Serbian is r e p e t i t i o n! Repetition is especially important in language learning because we quickly forget words we don’t use. Repetition is one of the reasons you shouldn’t be too ambitious when considering the amount of content you’ll go through (and remember) per day.

It’s possible to go through a bunch of new words, rules, and sentences. But how many will stick if you don’t repeat and use them regularly?

How Do I Stay Motivated when Learning by Myself?

Motivation is a crucial factor in everything we do.

But don’t mistake short-term and long-term motivation. If you rely on the short-term one, you probably won’t get very good in speaking Serbian. But why is that?

It’s because our short-term motivation always seeks pleasure, and if we listened to it, we would hardly achieve anything. Among learning ten new words in Serbian and watching your favorite show on Netflix, you’d probably choose the latter. It’s because of the short-term motivation.

That’s where you wake your long-term motivation up.

To motivate yourself, try making both long-term and short-term goals. If you only write long-term goals, it can be overwhelming, since you’re so far away from completing them.

But by breaking your long-term goals into a few smaller ones, you’ll fuel your long-term motivation every time you complete one. That way, you’ll start thinking, “Hey, I can already introduce myself and say a few words about my family and job. It means I’m one step closer to my long-term goal – speaking Serbian with native speakers!”

Tracking your progress will also help you stay on the right path. Whenever you start losing motivation, look at everything you’ve already achieved. That way, you’ll feel sorry not to continue and become even better!

OK, Now I Know how to Pace Myself, but Where to Start?

We went through some crucial points of pacing your process of learning Serbian by yourself. But how to start learning?

The best way to learn Serbian without a tutor and at your own pace is using a self-paced course. This way, you’ll have all the benefits of an experienced language teacher guiding you + learning on your own time!

If you like the idea of learning Serbian whenever you want by having more than 40 video lessons, more than 150 exercises and games, as well as Serbian videos with English subtitles, check out our beginner Serbian online courses!

It will take you around two months to complete the course. But, since you could see that our favorite Latin idiom is: repetitio est mater studiorum (repetition is the mother of learning), you’ll have two-year access to all the materials!

Oh, yes, also… Don’t forget to enjoy the journey while dreaming about the destination!