Emmy Award winning, Ashley Colburn, ever up for a challenge, has recently started filming short segments for television, speaking Croatian. That’s a pretty amazing achievement given that she has only been studying the language seriously for two years.
Ashley has completed three, week-long, immersion courses at the CLS summer school in Ćunski, near Mali Lošinj, on the Croatian island of Lošinj. She stayed in the summer school accommodation and had two “double” lessons, of nearly two hours each, every day, from Monday to Friday inclusive. All course packages are tailored to each individual but, for budgeting purposes, the indicative cost of a similar course for one week would be €1,000 for 20 lessons and €280 for seven night’s accommodation. In between, whenever her hectic schedule allows, Ashley also has weekly Skype lessons.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, particularly your interest in Croatia and any projects you are working on there?
My journey in Croatia started in 2009 when I first came to the country to film my TV show, WOW Croatia. After the success of this show, winning an Emmy in the states, I received a lot of attention in Croatia and the tourism board wanted me to come back to continue to promote the country. I made a few trips back and kept falling in love with the country. While I was working in San Diego filming my travel show, I decided that I would “ride the wave” that was happening in Croatia and produce an entire series about the country. In 2011 I filmed WONDERS OF CROATIA and spent 3 months filming in the country. That series now airs in 500 million homes around the world! Since then I have continued to promote the destination on FOX NEWS, created video guides, work with a travel agency and last summer I set up http://ashleycolburnscroatia.com/ where I have video guides that I have filmed around Croatia.
- How did you get along with the Croatian language in the past, prior to your studies with CLS, and how would you describe your level of proficiency now?
I didn’t start learning Croatian until I decided to buy a place two years ago. Once I realized I was really going to make a life here, I knew I should learn. I will also not forget that one time I went to a friend’s birthday party and everyone was speaking English because I was there. While that was polite of them, I knew I couldn’t have it be this way. When I decided to learn with CLS, I got addicted to learning it. I love languages and I like the challenge. Of course I don’t think that learning the language is easy, but, at 30 years old, it is nice to have a new hobby and dedicate time to something I really enjoy and also see the results. I can say that, before lessons with CLS, I knew a lot of words and how to count, etc., but I could not properly form a sentence. I would say that after a little more than two years, I can manage every day tasks, understand conversations and am actually quite conversational. I recently even started filming short segments for television speaking Croatian – this was a challenge, but I’m always up for one!
- What courses have you done with CLS and why did you decide to go down this route to learn the language?
I’ve done three, private, week-long sessions with Linda at CLS in Ćunski and otherwise try to meet one to two hours per week on Skype. Of course my travel schedule is always a bit crazy, but having the lessons on Skype has really allowed me to learn the language no matter where I am in the world. Linda is so flexible in working with my schedule and she has really taught me so much. I never expected to be able to communicate like I can and I am pleased to always see the progress I have made.
- Did the courses meet your expectations?
The courses definitely met my expectations and more! I’ve discovered that Croatian is really a language that you need to learn from a professional. While some languages people can pick up, the grammar is far too complicated to teach yourself. Linda’s methods of explaining and teaching me have really made my life so much easier here in Croatia! I am forever grateful.
- What do you enjoy most about the various types of lessons and courses?
The best part about CLS is that they work with your schedule, so there is not a big pressure in attending class every day, etc and you can carry on with your everyday life. Since I am also doing business in Croatia, I am able to focus some classes on specific topics that are relevant to my everyday life as well.
- And least?
I think the hardest part about the Croatian language is that, even if you know how to say many words, they can often change to something completely different due to the grammar. This for me is frustrating because you think you know something and then the word completely changes.
- What would be your top five tips for someone else wanting to get to a reasonably advanced level in Croatian?
Learn from a professional
Try to learn 5 new words of vocabulary a day
Listen to Croatian radio
Watch movies with Croatian subtitles
Make friends with Croatians!
- Do you plan to carry on spending a lot of time in Croatia?
Yes, I feel my life really is in Croatia and I plan to spend most of the year here. While I am currently living in Istria, I will likely spend most of the winter time in Zagreb and just come here from time to time on the weekends.
- What are your plans in terms of continuing with the Croatian language?
I definitely plan to continue learning because now I am getting asked to host TV shows, events, etc. in Croatian. I know I can always continue to improve my language skills and want to speak as best as I possibly can! I hope I can continue to host more events in the Croatian language and one day feel 100% confident in everything that I say.
You can find out more about Ashley, and the various projects she is involved with, on her website http://www.ashleycolburnproductions.com