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Case Study 6 – Mike Forbes

Croatian Language SchoolnewsletterCase Study 6 – Mike Forbes



January 7 , 2019 |

Case Study 6 – Mike Forbes

Mike Forbes spent most of his working life in the Royal Navy, leaving when he was 45, and settling in Battersea, London. After a short spell working for the John Lewis Partnership he became a Financial Adviser. In 1994 he sold his business and concentrated on teaching sailing, both practical and shore-based. Friends introduced him and his wife, Jan, to chartering yachts and in the year 2000 someone suggested they charter a boat in Croatia. They enjoyed two sailing holidays on the Dalmatian coast and then embarked on a joint venture, with three other families, buying shares in a new 40 foot sailing yacht which they based in Split. This worked well, with each family enjoying up to eight weeks afloat every summer. It soon became clear that learning Croatian would enhance the experience, particularly as English was then not yet the first foreign language spoken by most Croatians. In our interview with Mike, we’ve delved into his substantial knowledge of Croatia as a first class sailing destination, as well as his experiences of learning the Croatian language.

1. How did you got along with the Croatian language in the past, prior to your studies with CLS?

With difficulty, apart from the important words such as ‘hvala’ [thank you] and ‘moj prijatelj će platiti’ [my friend will pay]. Thanks to global TV English was quickly gaining ground in Croatia.

2. What made you decide to learn with the Croatian Language School [CLS], what courses/lessons have you done/are you doing with CLS and what were you hoping to achieve when you first started…and now?

By 2006 we had had several written and verbal exchanges with Croatian officials over their new regulations aimed at curbing ‘black chartering’ – the under-cutting of their burgeoning indigenous charter industry. Foreign-flagged leisure vessels, like ours, were severely restricted in the number of people they could have on board, and understanding their language and culture was crucial to our continued sailing in Croatia. Jan and I discovered the Croatian Language School in Ealing and joined for group lessons on Saturday afternoons. Being retired, every summer I was able to join the school’s wonderful week-long language and culture courses in different regions of Croatia.

2017 Summer School, Kabola vineyard, Istria

3. Did the lessons meet your expectations?

Yes, although Jan had to drop out owing to high pressure at work. I soon moved to one-to-one lessons with Linda and found that my schoolboy Latin helped the grasping of declension. CLS’s decision to offer Skype lessons gave everyone much more flexibility in programming and travel.

Luka, Povlja, on the north coast of Brač

4. What did you enjoy most about the lessons?

The way in which Linda introduces Croatian culture into her teaching so that the language fits into its national context. Also the warm interest in one’s family circumstances so she became a family friend.

5. ….and least?
The ‘elephant traps’ strewn all over the Croatian grammar landscape.

6. Given that you have spent a substantial amount of time exploring Croatia in your yacht, what would you say makes it such a popular destination for sailing?

With over 1100 islands along its coast, Croatia is one of the best and safest cruising grounds for sailing boats I’ve experienced. Accustomed to the English Channel, with its tides, storms and traffic, I loved the warm weather, the calm seas, minimal tides and deserted coves that makes up the magic of the islands.

ACI Marina Split

7. What would be your top five tips for someone else thinking of learning Croatian reasonably studiously?

Get to grips with the vocabulary.
Don’t be intimidated by the grammar.
Get to grips with the vocabulary.
Write down all new words.
Get to grips with the vocabulary.

2018 Language and Culture Course, Šipan

8. And what might be your five favourite overnight mooring spots?

For a first night leaving Split – Bobovišća at the west end of Brač, the perfect place to chill out after the hassle of arriving, provisioning and briefing the crew.
One of the quiet bays on Sveti Klement, one of the Pakleni islands.
Pokrivenik on the north coast of Hvar.
I’m not going to reveal any others for obvious reasons! Find them yourselves!

Rasotica Bay on the east coast of Brač

9. Finally, could you tell us what your plans are in terms of carrying on with the Croatian language?

It is probably no secret that my current motivation is partly to exercise what little grey cells I have left; I also enjoy the regular conversations with my good friend, Linda Rabuzin.

Stiniva on the north coast of Hvar


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