Bulgarian Speakers in London on the Rise


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There are approximately 12 million Bulgarian speakers in the world; due to the wide spread Bulgarian diaspora post collapse of the Soviet Union, the Bulgarian language can be heard in many countries across the world.

Bulgarian is an Indo-European language and it was the first Slavic language to be recorded in written documents as early as the 9th century. Although books published in early Bulgarian exist, the language was not standardised until 1878 when Bulgaria gained independence. Interestingly, many Turkish words have found their way into Bulgarian vernacular during the Ottoman rule. There are also influences from Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Italian, German and increasingly from the English language.

Bulgarian became one of the official languages of the European Union after the country joined January 1, 2007.

Why Are There So Many Bulgarian Speakers in London?

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Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 into 15 separate countries, much of the western world rejoiced for the victory of democracy over the totalitarian state. Within Eastern Europe, 8 countries were freed from the communist rule, these included Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

In the period following the collapse, over an estimated one million Bulgarians left their homeland in pursuit of better education and job prospects. A large number moved to the United Kingdom. As a result there are now many Bulgarians working within the higher echelons of various professions, including engineering, medicine, computer science and chemistry. Many of whom are bilingual in both English and Bulgarian and for this reason, there has been an influx in the need for Bulgarian speakers across many industries in London.

Where Can I Learn Bulgarian?

You need to invest a certain amount of time into learning a language. Sometimes the easiest way to do it is to find an evening course near your home or work so you can fit it into your busy schedule.

Evening Courses in London

  1. University of Westminster offers a Bulgarian evening course which run throughout the academic calendar (September - June) located in the their central Regent Street Campus near tube station Oxford Circus. The emphasis is put on being able to communicate in authentic situations.

  2. Discover Bulgarian offered by City Lit is a great introduction to the Bulgarian language for absolute beginners. They offer pronunciation practice as well as basic phrases to help you to communicate in real life situations.

University courses

  1. UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies (SSEES) is the place to go if you want to study at the leading institution for Eastern European studies and courses in Slavic languages. The school offers a range of courses which are taught by experts in their field.

Online resources to learn bulgarian

Free online resources are a great way to supplement your Bulgarian language learning.

  1. Bulgarian Peace Corps Course - this course is great for audio learners. There are 17 lessons which are free to download.

  2. Omniglot - explains the nuances of the Bulgarian language as well as providing lots of useful links.

  3. TedTalks - A collection of talks by Bulgarian speakers with Bulgarian subtitles and transcripts available.

The Bulgarian Cultural Institute

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The Bulgarian Cultural Institute offers a huge range of different workshops for non-Bulgarian speakers to learn the language, as well as English lessons tailored to the needs of Bulgarian native speakers in London.

As well as language courses, the institute also offers a range of workshops for a taster of Bulgarian culture:

  1. A Taste of Bulgaria: “The Cuisine of Grandmother” - If you have always wanted to learn how to cook delicious pastries such as banitsa, mouthwatering meat dishes like kebapche or the succulent salads like shopska salata, then this is the course for you.

  2. Learn the Art of Weaving - weaving dates back to the ancient times in Bulgaria, the creation of decorative cloths to the highest quality is now an art form.

  3. Traditional Bulgarian Embroidery - using just a needle and thread, learn how to create beautiful patterns on silk.

For more information on the workshops organised by the Bulgarian Cultural Institute, visit the website.