Learning Albanian can seem like a daunting challenge, but it is just like learning any other language out there. There are some key steps that you need to follow as well as some tips that will really help you to get ahead – and we’ve collected them for you in the Ultimate Guide to Learning Albanian. Let’s look at what it takes!

Albanian Alphabet and Pronunciation

The first thing you’re going to want to tackle is learning the Albanian alphabet.

The alphabet has 36 letters, 10 more than the English alphabet, and yet it is actually easier to pronounce Albanian words than English words. Why is that? Well, in Albanian words are pronounced exactly how they are written, however in English that is often not the case (example: owl and bowl, know and now – similar spelling but different pronunciation).

So, once you know how to say every single letter in Albanian you are able to read ever single word in Albanian. Take your time to master the different letters and the sounds they make. Many of them are not found in English and therefore it will take you some practice to get them right.

Learning to make new sounds with your mouth is challenging, and it takes a while to become muscle memory.

Basic Grammar

Once you’ve memorised the alphabet it’s time to start learning about the basic building blocks of the grammar that makes up the language.

If your first language is English and you have never learnt another language before, start with the basics. Remind yourself what is a noun, what is a verb, what is an adjective, what is an adverb etc. To be able to learn a new language you need to know what these grammatical terms mean before you can learn how to use them in Albanian.

If your first language is German for example then you have probably spent hours highlighting the subject, verb and object of a sentence in different colours in school, so for you this is probably just a quick refresher.

Then it’s time to learn about nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns in Albanian.

A great way to start with the basics is our Beginner Albanian Course.

Essential Vocabulary

To be able to make sentences, you need to actually know words in Albanian. So your next step alongside learning the grammar will be to learn new words.

You can grab our free vocabulary card sets here to get you started. These regularly have new cards added to them.

Learn the greetings, numbers, common objects around the house etc.

An important concept for learning new things is spaced repetition. Our brain will retain information for a certain amount of time before effectively deciding we no longer need this. This can be calculated mathematically and is called The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

Therefore it’s important that you regularly review the things that you’ve learnt on a certain schedule. Our Vocabulary Cards are built on Brainscape for that very reason.

Useful Phrases and Dialogues

Next, you can expand your vocabulary with useful everyday phrases.

These are often your “small talk components” – 

Hey, how are you? Fine thanks, you? Fine. Bye.

Morning, which floor? 6. Bye. Have a nice day.

Morning, just these? Yes please? 560. Here you go. Have a nice day. You too.

These conversations make you feel like you are part of your actual environment instead of acting like an alien whose coping mechanism is to smile, nod and hope no one noticed.

Verb Conjugations

Part of your grammar routine is going to be learning the most common verb conjugations and practicing them.

You’re going to want to learn the different groups of verbs that exist in Albanian and how they are usually conjugated.

And also you are going to want to learn the most common verbs in the past, present and future. While this may still not be 100% correct, at least the person will understand if what you are saying happened yesterday or will happen tomorrow.

Listening and Speaking Practice

Does this look familiar to you:

@learnrealalbanian What I learn... vs. what I listen to every day. ♬ original sound - realalbanian

I’d be surprised if it isn’t.

There are many different dialects in Albanian and many people have varying amounts of speech hygiene, so understanding people can be REALLY difficult.

And the only way you’re going to learn is to listen to as many different people as possible. My favourite activity for challenging myself is listening to ‘irrelevant news’. 

When the TV team has nothing major to report, they usually end up in some sort of village somewhere to report on the local residents complaining about something (usually a valid complaint, like no water, or the drains are blocked and have been for years, or still no road etc.) and usually for some reason many of the interviewees have terrible accents that I cannot understand.

So that is basically my daily challenge – watch some “non-breaking” news and see how much you can understand about the complaints being raised.

Speak to people every single day, listen to shows, movies, music – anything.

Reading and Writing Exercises

Read every single day. Start with the news headlines when you’re sitting somewhere for coffee and translate what you don’t understand.

Write small practice sentences with the words you’ve noted down and translated. Make new sentences with words or verbs you already know.

And slowly but steadily you will understand and produce more and more.

Immerse yourself in the culture

Learning a language is NOT just about learning new words, it opens doors to a culture.

I still remember that I kept wondering why when you go to the shop on Friday afternoons no one says “have a nice weekend”. One day I was visiting my hair dresser and she told me more about what life was like during communist times. Work in the factory Monday to Saturday and then do community service like picking fruits or cleaning the street on Sundays.

There was NO weekend – which explains why the usual “have a nice weekend” that’s so common in German supermarkets for example doesn’t exist here.

And there are SO many insights just like this that you can gather just from learning a new language and learning about the culture.

Use a Variety of Learning Resources

Make use of a wide variety of learning resources to match the stage of language learning you’re in.

Across our site you will find a variety of resources. Currently this includes free vocabulary cards, practice materials for those already familiar with some Albanian, our Beginner Albanian Course and also 1:1 lessons.

Albanian is not yet in Duolingo as a language, so you’re getting the chance to assemble your own curriculum.

Be serious about your practice

The most important thing is to be serious about your practice. You can complain about wanting to learn Albanian every day, but if you don’t make time for actually learning and practicing nothing is going to happen.

Watching videos about exercise will not give you the same results as actually exercising. 

Schedule your learning sessions in your calendar. I timeblock every day that I’m working and it’s important for me to include my language sessions, or else I will not learn.

Make learning Albanian your “default boredom activity” – most people nowadays default to taking out their phone and scrolling social media whenever they are bored. The only way to change that is to have a different go to boredom activity. For some of us this used to be reading or drawing. You can make yours “learning Albanian”. Have your notebook and practice sentences with you. Or open the vocabulary app on your phone. Or even better – talk to a random stranger and tell them something.

Not sure what your next steps should be?

Book a free consultation call and we’ll advise you how to best proceed given your current language level.