FOR THE 24th time, the special summer school programme will offer classes for foreigners wanting to learn the basics of the Slovak language as well as the country’s people, culture and history.

The Summer University of Slovak Language and Culture is a three-week intensive language course focusing on teaching and developing the Slovak language. The students attend various lectures, workshops and trips focused on contemporary Slovakia and its history and culture. This year it will take place between July 7 and 25 in Modra-Harmónia, about 25 kilometres from Bratislava.

“Every year about 80-90 foreigners, including 60 compatriots, who study the Slovak language for various reasons apply for the courses,” Katarína Nevrlová of the Institute of Language and Academic Preparation of Foreign Students and Compatriots, which is a part of the Centre of Continuing Education of the Comenius University in Bratislava, the organiser of the summer school, told The Slovak Spectator.

Among the most frequent reasons cited by foreigners for learning Slovak is that they have Slovak ancestors, they study the Slovak language at a university in the country they live in, or because they want to continue their studies at a university in Slovakia.

At the beginning of the programme the participants take a placement test. Based on the results they are divided into four groups: beginners, pre-intermediates, intermediates and advanced. The groups are small, usually comprised of six to 12 people.

The students spend mornings learning the language, while in the afternoon they can choose from various language activities, like phonetics, conversation, grammar seminar, stylistics, school of drama, creative writing and singing, Nevrlová said.

The university will also organise various lectures and social activities with cultural representatives. This year it will offer the presentation of the Literary Information Centre joined with a discussion about contemporary Slovak literature with Slovak writer Michal Hvorecký, musician Martin Geišberg, linguist Sibyla Mislovičová from the Ľudovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), and drama reviewer Juliana Beňová.

In addition, participants will take trips to Modra, the Červený Kameň Castle, the Small Carpathian Museum in Pezinok, as well as to Bratislava, where they will visit memorials in the town’s centre. The organisers also plan a three-day excursion around Slovakia in the Orava region and the Low Tatras. During this trip they will visit Bojnice Castle, Orava Castle, the open-air museum in Zuberec, the town of Banská Štiavnica, the wooden church in Hronsek and the mountain railroad in Čierny Balog, Nevrlová continued.

At the end of the course students will receive a diploma according to their level of language competence.

“This year we have students coming from Russia, Ukraine, the US, Philippines, Poland, Vietnam, Serbia, Hungary and Romania,” Nevrlová said, adding that Ukrainians, Russians and Serbians have so far made up the highest number of students.