Being a foreigner is almost always related with different local language of a country where you moved in. In case of Poland – it is Polish. What a surprise! Allow me to present a post with a little bit of motivation and few tips about learning Polish language.
- Why should I learn local language?
- A piece of a history – why older generation of polish community has problems with English?
- Is Polish hard to learn?
- How long does this take to speak fluent?
- Where can I learn it?
Why should I learn local language.
I will start with listing most important arguments here:
- Understanding local documentation and signs – all documentation from tax office, advertisements and local newspapers or news in a TV. Using local radio station to check the weather or listen to the funny morning show where people are commenting daily events.
- Saving money – case works like this in each single country, which I visited. For example: if you go to local garage and start talking English with local mechanic, in 90% of all cases service price for you would be as for regular tourist. Which means – doubled.
- Possibility to talk with local community in their local language – despite the fact, that more and more people in Poland speak English (especially younger generation), still big part of older generation is not able to use it properly. Where exactly can you have a problems? Out of a bigger cities but also in an official institutions which are supported mostly by the older date officials.
- Chance to talk with family of your partner – lately, it is pretty common scenario, when you come after your partner to leave in Poland. Of course, parents of your beloved will not talk in any different language then Polish. Again, what a surprise! Think about it differently – how nice would It be, to talk with them and allow them to make a verbal relation with you, so you can actually get to know each other. you might want to ask: “but why older generation of polish people has so many problems with English?” Actually there is one justification here.
A piece of a history
Why older generation of polish community has problems with English?
It is not only about English, but about any language different then Russian. 1989 is a mile stone as we talk about democracy in Poland. After more than four decades of living in a communist country, polish people received a chance to make first important democratic choice. So they chose the democracy. Why do I mention this? Russian was the primary language next to Polish back then. Communist system of the country was not really supportive for any other language. Starting from late 1945 going in to the direction of 1989, polish culture was more and more displacing the imposed communist system. What finds result nowadays – older generation speaks Polish and remembers Russian from school but with each single decade, chance to meet English speaking person grows up. That is it. So simple and complicated at the same time.
Is Polish hard to learn?
Ohhhhhhh yes – it is. It is in the group of the most difficult languages to learn on the world. Together with Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Finnish and Hungarian.
But I will be completely honest with you. Despite the fact, that I was really good with writing essays at school, I am still having problems with grammatic and proper pronunciation of specific words in Polish. And I am not dyslectic. In addition I have already 30+ years’ experience with using this language every day! I will tell you more – great majority of polish people have the same problems. UNESCO estimates that up to 77% of Poles have problems with understanding the text read in Polish, and less than 2% Poles are completely linguistically competent. What does this mean? It means that you don’t need to know 100% of Polish language in order to start communicating with Polish people.
How long does this take to speak fluent?
No clue. There is nothing like estimate time of learning language. I personally know the people who tried few times and gave up but I also know other group of a people, who managed to talk fluent within two or three years which seems to be really good result. In addition, I personally know few people who managed two start talking descent polish within [sic!] few months. It is only up to you, how fast can you learn it.
Actually this is not only about Polish, but about any local language in the country where you live. This was one of the first things which I did, while I moved to Netherlands. I signed my self in to the Dutch evening intense course twice a week. I was learning Dutch for almost four years and practicing with local people another two. Still – in my opinion my language is far from level of native speakers. It doesn’t change the fact, that I could manage any official matter in local language. So learning this language was one of the best decisions which I made back then.
Additional language – especially from the place where you live – gives additional possibilities. Don’t think about the time which you need to spend in order to learn it. If you would have start learning to play a guitar 5 years back, right now you could be a rock star. If you want to stay in Poland and you will start learning Polish right now, within 5 years you will speak fluent, also if you take is serious – there is no other option.
There is one additional thing related with stress about being judged while you will make your first steps with any language. There is no other way – you need get through it. And you will make mistakes. It is absolutely normal. Just like in case of learning walking while you were a baby. you need to fall, stand up, try again and again and again. Until you learn. You will meet on your way people who will judge you and laugh from you. This is normal as well.
But let me tell you something here. There is only type of a driver who never made a single scratch on his car – the one who never drives or has no car. It is the same rule with language. Of course – don’t forget about distance to yourself. I personally had a case, when I went once with my Spanish-English speaking friend for a beer and we bought brewed bottled beer, which in Polish translation means: “Piwo Warzone”. He asked my then: “is this beer for soldiers only?”. It took me few seconds to understand that “War zone” looks really similar like “Warzone”. I exploded with laughter. And such situations may happen as well. So my personal advise: no stress here.
Learning Polish – Where can I learn it?
There are thousands of language schools in Poland. I never learned Polish in any of these – this is why I would have advise to go in google for phrase “kurs języka polskiego dla obcokrajowców” + “name of the city” where you live. For example, if I would have go for Polish lessons in Kraków, I would have type in phrase “kurs języka polskiego dla obcokrajowców Kraków”. In most of the cases, Google opinions from person with “local guide” status are really reliable. The price brackets for one semester, which supposed to result with reaching B1 level is between 1000 zł and 1800 zł. Majority of corporations are refunding a full cost or at least a part from language studies from their employees – so if you have a contract with bigger company, do not hesitate to ask how does this look like in your case.
Summary of Learning Polish
With this post I would like to encourage you to go on with learning local language of the place where you live. It is not only about Polish in Poland, but every other language in the place where you are. I hope that I gave you proper arguments against any excuses and motivation to start. Would you like to add something here? Go on and comment! I would love to see any feedback from you!
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