I never wanted to learn Croatian until just recently when I came into a bunch of learning materials for it. It looks interesting and I'll have to put it on my list of languages to learn.
Croatian was once known as a macro-language called Serbo-Croatian, and included the Serbian and Bosnian languages. They were considered one language as a forced policy to make Serbian the sole language of Yugoslavia. With the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990's, this language is now considered separate from Serbian and Bosnian (again, mostly for political reasons) but even though there are some distinctions between them, there is also considerable mutual intelligibility between Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian, and learning one gets you almost all the way to learning the other two.
Croatian, also known as Hrvatski, is spoken by about 4 million people in Croatia and another 1 or 2 million in nearby Bosnia, Serbia, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and also in the US, Canada and Germany. Croatian is closely related to Slovenian, and a little less closely to Macedonian and Bulgarian.
The Croatian alphabet is a varation of the Latin alphabet, with a few accent marks allowing for a few of the more common Croatian sounds, but it is mostly recognizable and is not difficult to learn. It has many of the hallmarks of other Slavic languages - noun cases, grammatical gender, lots of verb inflections - all of which contribute to making learning Croatian that much more interesting!
There aren't a lot of resources to learn Croatian, but there are definitely enough to get you going :
This site has some introductory grammar, basic vocabulary and some audio which can be downloaded.
This site has vocabulary and phrases, with accompanying audio, in an easy-to-use and fun interface. The audio is in slow speed and normal conversation speed, with vocabulary and phrases not found in more grammar oriented books. There are more everyday expressions in two unique courses - Croatian To Impress or Croatian To Love. It is not free, however. There is a one-time subscription fee for using this site. I would recommend using this site for some fun, or as a supplement to another, more comprehensive course.
This is the most comprehensive course to learn Croatian, but it is much older, based on the old Serbo-Croatian standard, and you will need some more modern vocabulary from another source. But the best part of this course is that you can download it for free! There are a few reasonably priced software programs based on this course - see Additional Resources below if you would like that alternative.
Living Language Spoken World Croatian
This is probably the best basic course to learn Croatian. The book is based on everyday conversation with just the right amount of grammar, culture and history notes. There are also six audio cd's (of course using native speakers), some that work directly with the coursebook plus a few others that are for reviewing while away from your course, such as in your car. Its the right mix of material, convenience and price for most people. Use this course as the backbone of your Croatian studies, and supplement it with another course or two.
Croatian Byki Deluxe 4 Before You Know It, or BYKI as it is more popularly known, is a vocabulary flashcard program from Transparent Language that has lots of little extras, and they keep improving it all the time. With thousands of words and phrases of vocabulary and native-speaker audio, BYKI Croatian is a great supplement to help you absorb Croatian. One of the features I most like is the fact that you can edit and add vocabulary yourself. Combined with other learning sources and a little creativity, BYKI can be an indispensable part of your language learning routine. Best of all you can try a limited version for free! Get your Free BYKI™ Lite download by Transparent Language
Pimsleur Croatian Comprehensive Level 1
Pimsleur Croatian Comprehensive Level 1 is a new addition to the Pimsleur line. Pimsleurs all-audio format is a great introduction to the language, and with it you'll develop a better accent and conversation ability than with any other published language method. It's a great way to begin to learn Croatian. For a more in-depth look at how Pimsleur products work, read my review of Pimsleur audio courses.
As an alternative to ordering the whole set of Pimsleur cd's in one shot, maybe you would be interested in a more cost effective download from Audible.com? Get five lessons at a time for less money and no waiting! Croatian Phase 1, Unit 01-05: Learn to Speak and Understand Croatian with Pimsleur Language Programs
Additional Resources to Learn Croatian :
This course is a software program based on FSI files. To my knowldege, there is no new or different content, other than a software interface (with all the advantages that come with that) and an integrated video chat feature. It is very reasonably priced, so if you would rather use the course in a software format, this an option. If budget is a concern, then you can download the entire FSI course for free in the FSI link above (in pdf and mp3 format) and use a free video chat feature at one of the language community sites.