History of the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign language in seven steps
- The Centre has its origins in 1965, when the then Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures organised the first Seminar of Slovene Language, Literature and Culture (SSLLC). The seminar was attended by several dozen enthusiastic foreign Slavicists. By the eight SSLLC in 1972, the number of participants had grown to 120 and has remained more or less at that level to this day. The Centre did not have a name at that time, but there was already the idea of a “Slovenicum”, an institution which would carry the Slovene language, literature and culture into the international sphere.
- At roughly the same time, a special body was established within the International Relations Committee at the University of Ljubljana, which was responsible for monitoring the work of the Slovene language lecturers at universities outside Slovenia. In 1972/73 this responsibility was transferred to the Committee for Boosting Slovene at Non-Slovene Universities, which operated within the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana. The name of the Committee was in 1992 simplified to Slovene at Foreign Universities, and its activities spread under the aegis of the Centre. Slovene is currently ‘boosted’ through 57 lectureships around the world, with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport providing the financial ‘fuel’.
- In 1979, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures organised for the first time the international Obdobja Symposium, initially as an event accompanying the SSLLC, which threw light on specific periods in the development of the Slovene language, literature and culture. In the Nineties, the Symposium became independent and began to focus on specific issues. The ideas discussed at the Symposium appear in the published proceedings
- At the same time there appeared a need for a new school, aimed mostly at teaching Slovene to young people belonging to the second or third generation of Slovene emigrants. Initially, this was organised by the initiator, the Slovene Emigrant Association, at a grammar school in Kranj, but taking its approach and teachers from the SSLLC. This is why, in 1983, a year after the first Slovene Language Summer School, the idea began to take shape of the establishment of a Centre for Slovene, within which it would be possible to organise similar events and activities. The Summer School had to wait for its move to the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana for another four years, i.e. 1988. At that time negotiations began about the transfer of the intensive Slovene courses for foreigners – i.e. Year-Round School – from the then Workers’ University to the Centre. This happened in 1990. The range of courses offered by the Centre was expanded in relation to the season (Winter, Autumn and Spring Schools), specialisation (courses for translators, for students, exam preparation) and the age of the participants: since 2006, there is also a special course for children (Youth School).
- The Centre has thus been on the scene since the mid-Sixties, its concept gradually taking shape under various names (Centre for Slovene Language, Centre for Slovene as a Second Language, Centre for Slovene, Centre for the Teaching of Slovene, Slovene Studies Centre) and under various organisational forms. In 1991, it was finally given its official name – the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign Language – while its activities were determined by a set of rules. It was given closer organisational links to the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; and then in 2002, when that department split into the Department of Slavic Studies and the Department of Slovene Studies, the Centre remained connected with the latter.
- In 1992, soon after Slovene independence, the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign Language began to carry out the first examinations in Slovene for official needs: customs officers on the Slovene borders were required to know Slovene. In 1994, by Government decision, the Centre became an official examination body for the Slovene language. The decision came into force the day after it was published in the Official Gazette of the RS, i.e. on 31 July 1994, and has remained in force to this day. This is how the Examination Centre first appeared.
- All these activities and programmes require suitable infrastructure. This has been provided from the very beginning by the Centre’s own educational and publishing activities and through participation in many national and international projects. In the new millennium, the Centre also became a research centre for Slovene as a second and foreign language.
The future sees the realisation of the vision of Emeritus Professor Dr. Breda Pogorelec, the driving force behind the bringing together of all the international Slovene Studies activities: the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign Language remains a centre, but its ripples keep spreading ever further afield.
The Centre for Slovene as a Second/Foreign Language (eds. M. Bešter, E. Kržišnik). Ljubljana: Centre for Slovene as a Second/Foreign Language, Department of Slavic Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, 1999.
Archive of the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign Language