I regularly attend various events with other foreigners, and after ordering food or drink in Albanian I often get asked “Oh, you speak Albanian? Is Albanian hard to learn?”
And it makes sense, if you’re from the US or the UK then it may be the first time in your life that you’re looking at learning another language.
I myself remember arriving in Albania in 2018 and not being able to understand anything. Signs on shops, adverts on the radio, the TV Channels, my partner talking with his friends – everything just went over my head.
So naturally I went online, because surely you can learn anything off of the internet these days, right? Well, wrong. It turned out that beyond basic information like saying hello and counting to ten there weren’t any structured resources available to learn Albanian online.
So, let’s ask our Albanian language teacher Arsen, and talk about Albanian and whether it’s really that hard to learn.
Albanian: A Linguistic Gem
Before we dive into the practical tips and nuances of learning Albanian, let’s first take a moment to appreciate all of the remarkable beauty that lies within this truly unique language. Albanian, as the official language of Albania and Kosovo, carries within it a rich tapestry of history, culture and identity. It’s a linguistic treasure that provides a gateway to a world less traveled – and it’s an opportunity to connect with the heart of the Balkans, its history and traditions.
The Elements that Shape Albanian: A Glimpse into Its Complexity
To answer the question at hand – Is Albanian hard to learn? – we must first acknowledge the distinctive features that shape this language. Albanian is made up of a unique grammatical structure, which includes a rich system of noun cases, verb conjugations and moods, word order, as well as a heap of vocabulary both all of which adds to the complexity of the language.
Every language presents its own set of challenges, and it’s in the process of navigating these challenges where the true beauty of language learning emerges. Learning Albanian is as much a challenge as it is to navigate the Balkans.
The Journey of Learning Albanian: A Balanced Perspective
While the language has its complexities, it’s important to also emphasize that learning Albanian, like many things in life, is a journey – a journey that rewards perseverance, curiosity and dedication. It may not always feel easy, but it’s perfectly possible. And with every new piece of the language you unlock, your cultural understanding also expands.
The Roadmap to Learning Albanian
It’s important to note that learning Albanian is a step-by-step process.
You’re not required to know and understand everything from day one, you simply need to take it one step at a time.
The Albanian Alphabet
The Albanian alphabet might appear complex at first, because there are 36 letters, but these 36 letters make up only 36 sounds.
In comparison the English alphabet has 26 letters but these make up 64 different sounds, and it’s a similar story in many other languages like German.
So the good news is that once you know how to pronounce each letter in the alphabet you can read every single word in Albanian, because there are no other complicated pronunciation rules. In English the world “owl” and “bowl” should technically be pronounced the same, but they are not. In Albanian this is never the case.
Taking your first steps into Albanian Grammar
Once you have mastered the basics in Albanian, then you can take your first steps into making your very own sentences.
The grammar, characterized by its intricate case system, opens doors to expressing precise meanings.
When you start learning Albanian you don’t have to start learning the cases right away but some months later that will come up as a need, and then you will realize that it is actually not that complex once you get the logic behind it.
Also something that will make the language feel more complicated, is the definite, indefinite noun system, meaning we will have to distinguish if its “lule” or “lulja” (a flower vs. the flower) but the rules for that are quite clear and once you memorize just 5 rules then you are good to go.
Approach grammar as a puzzle waiting to be solved, and you’ll soon get the hang of things.
Learning the language and its intricacies opens the door to a deeper cultural understanding, and the more you interact with people the more you notice what people say and don’t say.
In Albania for example it is not common to wish people a nice weekend on Friday afternoons at work or in the shop. Why? Because weekends aren’t really a concept in Albania since many people even nowadays work at least a half day on Saturday, and back in the communist days you were expected to do community service on Sundays, so the concept of “weekends” isn’t really established.
So as you learn more about different aspects of the language, you will also learn more about Albania and the culture around you.
As humans we thrive on challenges. That’s why the people in the Matrix woke up when everything was too perfect. So, embrace the challenge of learning Albanian and remember that everything is figureoutable. The longer you are here and the more you listen to people, the more you will notice patterns around you.
Stay positive and celebrate every single time you learn something new.
Strategies to Master the Albanian Language
Patience and Perseverance
As so many other things in life, learning a language is a marathon and not a sprint. So be patient with yourself and understand that progress is gradual and each new thing you learn brings you closer to becoming fluent in Albanian.
Will you get fit if you watch exercise videos on the internet? Probably not.
What if you sign up to the gym, but don’t go? Probably not.
It’s the same with learning Albanian, or any other language.
You need to practice each and every single day. And you can do so in many different ways.
Listen to Albanian music and translate some of the lyrics. Practice some vocabulary. Read an article or watch the news for a few minutes. Speak to someone in the shop and make a point to not default to English.
Or use the practice materials on realalbanian.com to enhance your listening and reading skills.
Of course learning things here and there is great up to a point, but it’s normal to find that your learning is stagnating and that you need a more structured approach. You can sign up for Albanian lessons to receive personalized guidance. Leveraging the expertise of experienced educators accelerates your journey.
Connect with native Albanian speakers or fellow learners. Engaging in conversations and language exchange broadens your exposure and improves your fluency.
Is Albanian Hard to Learn – An Expats Perspective
When I personally arrived in Albania I couldn’t understand anything. I assumed that since I already know 4 languages, learning Albanian would be easy and quick.
However, I personally had not anticipated how unique Albanian is, and how little materials there were on the internet for learning and practicing.
So I probably spent the first year asking my partner to just name objects, translate signs and leaflets and repeat what people said. But slowly I didn’t feel the need for it anymore, because I understood. I could start to tell where one sentence ended and another one started. I heard words in conversations that I recognised. I started to be able to make simple sentences myself, albeit they probably weren’t very correct.
And now 5 years later after a lot of practice, I can speak enough Albanian to chat to the taxi driver, order things and give directions on the phone, handle any issues in a shop, deal with official appointments and so on.
And I can only imagine how much faster this process would have been if I had had access to a platform like Real Albanian while I was fresh in the country.
So, while it may seem hard, or it may seem like at times you’re not making enough progress, trust your brain, because your brain is always learning and absorbing if you give it the chance. And in comparison to other languages I’ve learnt, Albanian is a lot like learning German, and not that much more complicated when you have the right instructions!
Discovering a New You: A Journey Beyond Language
Is Albanian hard to learn? It’s a language that requires dedication, perseverance and a willingness to embrace challenges. These challenges are gateways to new perspectives on the world, and throughout this process you will experience personal growth, cultural enrichment and a new perspective on life.
You’re not just learning a language; you are making new connections and friendships, simplifying activities in your daily life, regaining independence and problem-solving skills and bridging the gap between cultures.
At RealAlbanian.com, we’re dedicated to supporting you on this transformative journey. Our comprehensive resources, including tailored lessons and immersive experiences, are designed to empower you to master Albanian with confidence.
Stay curious, stay dedicated, and keep the linguistic flame alive!