Part 1: Online sources for learning Bulgarian
Written by Alex Portarev, edited by Lindsay Martin, photo by Anastasiia Dehtiarova.
If the foreigner life in Sofia is like Italian pizza, then the Bulgarian language is the pineapple. Optional and yet much better when you have it.
Unlike the rest of the country, Sofia does not require you to know Bulgarian in order to have a job. Yet, a lot of foreigners decide to learn the language for a variety of reasons – because of a mate, opening a business, or just arguing with pesky clerks. Some don’t have a choice in whether they learn the language for academic or family reasons. Even if it’s out of sheer interest and not of necessity, many foreigners decide to learn Bulgarian. But the majority of who don’t know where to start or where to go. The core of this conflict is the way you learn. Are you looking for easiness, enjoyability, visible results? All of this leads to the important question, where do I start?
This is why the Open Sofia team will share what we believe are the best places to learn Bulgarian, with an emphasis on doing it virtually due to the ongoing situation. Even if learning the language is not on your mind – maybe you can make some friends hang out with for sweet summer drinks in Borisova.
Bulgarian Language Schools – Ouchilishte
A variety of schools with different educational approaches have promoted their work since the times of Omurtag the Builder. Many teach English, Spanish, and German, but with growing demand, more Bulgarian classes are now available. Most companies are also flexible enough to digitize their online courses at this time. We have asked several people for school recommendations, and you can read their opinions at the bottom of the article.
If you’re interested in learning Bulgarian the Bulgarian way, why don’t you give it a try with …
Suggestopedia – or why chalga songs are stuck in your head
Created by Bulgarian psychotherapist Dr Georgi Lozanov, suggestopedia or suggestology, is an educational science. It examines the “hidden compartments” in the brain and the ability of our subconsciousness to store information in them. This scientific movement explains why you still remember Backstreet Boys’ lyrics in 2020. Through art & expression, the suggestopedic coursework has proven to be extremely helpful for many people, but it should be noted that it’s not for everybody. So far, we have identified that only the suggestopedic centre of Vihrovenia offers lessons in Bulgarian through the method of suggestopedagogy (and all of its other names). They’ve gone into full quarantine mode so you’re able to study from the comfort of your own bed.
Moocs for Bulgarian – Massive open online courses
The recipe is known to many of you – interactive, motivating, colorful, fun… but missing Bulgarian. With Duolingo’s 300 million users, we are sure that a lot of people looked this up first when considering learning the language. Alas, despite the interest, we have no information if this is currently underway. Luckily, we can present to you two other very successful alternatives. Bulgaro being more straightforward and Duolingo-like is an excellent alternative. But if you’re tired of that formula and would like to try something more extravagant, we suggest Memrise. They take visualization & association learning very seriously. In other words, you can literally meme your way into speaking Bulgarian.
Multimedia – the greatest supplement to any of the above
We will give you a small list of our recommendations, and although it wouldn’t be much, we hope that it’s going to inspire you to do your own research. And of course, if the interest in multimedia is high, the Open Sofia team can conduct bigger research and list even more online resources for books, movies, podcasts, and songs.
- King for a Day (1983, comedy, drama)
- Living Legends (2016, comedy)
- Goat Horn (1972, black & white, drama)
What fellow foreigners have to say:
“I went to Edno. I liked them a lot, because they were well structured, yet flexible concerning needs, had very interactive and mostly funny classes, and very sweet and engaged teachers.”
- Anni, German
“I learned Bulgarian in Dolce Stilnovo through the Bulgarian full-immersion class of Federica Fede. Most of all, I think that in order to learn Bulgarian, you need motivation – It can be love, work, but for me, it was Bulgarian folk music that I adore and I wanted to understand it. My favourite song is by Petar Ralchev – Spomen.”
- Mario, Italian
“I made huge progress when I moved to Sofia. I took Bulgarian classes at SU’s Department for Language Teaching and International Students. There the teachers are AWESOME!!! WOW!! They succeed to teach me Bulgarian in.. Bulgarian. You learn Bulgarian like if you were a baby. You begin from the very start. And step by step I had confidence in my Bulgarian skills and I hung out. I was too shy, but barriers are only in your head! And Bulgarian people are very helpful. They were very amused when I speak in Bulgarian. They always want to help because it’s not every day you meet a foreigner speaking your mother tongue.”
- Louis, French