Thursday, 12 January 2017

Mirëdita, i dashur lexues

Good afternoon, dear reader

Today, I have decided to share some tips about my leaning... I've been asked a few times what made me learn the language and how I found it out, so I've decided to write about this too.

But first, let me share a really good song I just found...

Po t'pres më m'thirr // I'm waiting for you to call me
Ti e din ma mirë, ti e din ma mirë // you know it better, you know it better
(Make sure to check out the whole translation of it by ceta here! Beautiful song)

So NRG Band is a Kosovar band that I really love, the only problem is that their songs are in that awkward Gheg Kosovar dialect that I need to use my research skills to find out what they mean. (unless someone is good to provide a translation, thanks to all the good people out there!) Which is fun... sometimes, depending on the Gheg/Tosk proportion in their songs. But anyway, great group, if you love good music and haven't done yet, check them out!

So back to my tips. It's been just two years since my first "meeting" with the language. Actually, before that I never knew that Albanian was a language, let alone learning and understanding it. It's shame that we personally study almost nothing at school about the modern day Balkans (except the Balkan Wars and the World Wars), so we don't really know much about our Balkan "neighbours" (literal or figurative) historically, unless they're as Ancient as Greece. And I used to hate History at school, as the books were awful and full of words that required you to have a PhD in History in order to understand (they frustrated me so much, and I've always been a person who reads a lot!). As I mentioned already, I live in the UK and I tend to stumble upon quite a lot Albanians where I live, and I was close to a few during that time. Actually, one of the really good friends I have is Albanian too, so I have someone to practice with.

My first music "crush" were Blero (with the song Sexy Moves, which I've put into the Romanian folder in my music, for unknown reasons), and Flori (with I have no idea which song anymore, it was in Albanian, but it wasn't in the right place either!). Actually Flori had a few collaborations with Bulgarian singers at one point, the songs were great hits, so I knew him back then, but never bothered to check his songs out.

So at one point I just started researching more, listening to more and more songs, and falling in love with the language. It actually took me great amount of time to start learning it seriously, partly because I was still at university and had to concentrate on other things, partly because the resources out there were limited and confusing. I'm learning foreign languages since I was 6, but this was the first time when I came into a "dead end" trying to figure out what was good and what wasn't.

And I actually started looking at it more seriously around a year ago, when I discovered some amazing YouTube lessons (more about it in another post!), then books, and then... well, when you get the basics, the world is open to you. I've found out a few tips that I wanted to share with you...
It takes lots of patience, a lot more than if you decide to learn any other more known language. So dedication is a key, actually a few minutes everyday do miracles. While it's true for any language, it especially is for Albanian, as there are no fun/interactive/game type of websites (like Duolingo or Babbel) available for it to keep you motivated, unless you motivate yourself.
- The resources are quite limited, so being fluent and able to learn in English is prerequisite.
-  One book/resource is never enough. The Albanian authors are fairly good at explaining, but not everything. Plus, the books go up to A2 level, so after that, you're on your own in your exploring adventure.
What I do is reading grammars to gasp the aspects of it I'm not familiar with, listening to Albanian TV, reading news, reading schoolbooks, asking/talking to natives... I even got an Albanian fairytale book from a secondhand bookstore here, but I'm not having enough vocabulary knowledge yet to read it easily. If you live in America, you're blessed, as there are many books that can be ordered, the problem is that here (and outside on the US) they want twice as much money to deliver them,
-  Knowing a Balkan language is a big plus. Or a language with cases. Or if you’ve studied some syntax. Or actually knowing any language other than English, which is rather "plain" and simple grammatically, with numerous exceptions from the rules, thus it is hard to get some characteristics of Albanian, unless you've met them in another language already. As I mentioned, the Balkan ones share similar characteristics, maybe Romanian is the closest of them due to the fact that both languages are based heavily on Latin for vocabulary, plus the cases, plus some typical Balkan characteristics. Or actually some Turkish will help you a lot vocabulary-wise with any Balkan language.
-  The songs are one of the worst ways of learning Albanian. No other language has less unified use (it’s relatively new anyway), and nobody has explained the Gheg usage/grammar for foreign speakers properly, it’s just bits and pieces. Plus, bigger part of the speakers speak Gheg, the natives understand it, regardless of which their native dialect is, but the learners struggle. Given the fact that the biggest part of the music industry is Kosovar, you will struggle at some point too, not to mention how illiterate the most lyrics online appear to be. So enjoy the music wisely, grasp some expressions, but try to get familiar with what I call the "proper grammar" first, in order to learn it better.

That's everything on my mind at the moment, I hope I was helpful to you, and be sure to come back for my so famous resource reviews! (I'm still figuring out how to do them, but will get there eventually)

Ditën e mirë dhe shihemi së shpejti :)

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