- Comprehensive and designed specifically for English-speaking users.
- Plenty of exercises and explanations of grammar.
- Gives equal treatment to Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian standards.
- Chapters use dialogues and literary excerpts.
I wish that I had used this course when I was learning Croatian. In a way I look at this new course by Alexander and Elias-Bursac as an unofficial upgrade on Thomas Magner's course, "Introduction to the Croatian and Serbian Language" which I was using. They apply the ideas of balancing the standards, showing accentuation patterns of words, excellent coverage of grammatical topics and useful glossaries. Alexander and Elias-Bursac have necessarily added modern touches by extending the exposure to Bosnian and updating the dialogues to reflect life in the early 21st century.
If you're serious about learning from scratch Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian / Serbo-Croatian / whatever you want to call it, this is THE course that you should use. (Note: As of 2009, the authors are providing answer keys to the exercises for free downloading at the website for this book. Run a search on Google using the terms "bcs grammar textbook") Unlike courses such as "Teach Yourself Serbian" or "Colloquial Croatian" for example, the authors here have truly designed this course with English-speakers in mind. Not only does the textbook indicate the patterns of accentuation and tone of every word, but it also gives in-depth grammatical explanations that often use English as a reference/point of comparison. In addition, the appendices have charts that show declensional and conjugational patterns while the glossary shows the aspectual pairs of verbs - something that some courses and dictionaries fail to do.
It is also noteworthy and praiseworthy that the standard variants of BCS are presented equally along with the distinctions between "(i)jekavski" and "ekavski". All of these help to give a sense to the user of the "fuzziness" of what some people insist as constituting "proper Bosnian", "proper Croatian" or "proper Serbian". The juxtaposition of texts in all three variants was indeed instructive and made me realize how parochial are some "debates" about Serbo-Croatian vs. Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian (which reflect more the political situation).
It is worthwhile to buy the CDs that have the dialogues and readings of the textbook so that you may get some audio exposure to the language. The reference manual of grammar that corresponds to this textbook is in my view not required as the textbook's explanations are sufficient. However, I do recommend that reference book if you want to go into detail on the grammatical explanations of the textbook or get a readable and balanced survey of the sociolinguistic topics regarding "Serbo-Croatian" and now "BCS".