If you read this text it means you have decided to study Polish. It sounds like a good challenge. Do you know how many people from all over the world speak Polish? According to statistics, more than 44 million speak Polish. It is the national language of Poland. Moreover, Polonia living abroad use it for everyday conversation. Polish has its roots in Slavic languages, which means it is most closely related to the other Slavic language like Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian.
Arguably, you have heard that Polish is known as the most difficult language in the world. It indeed takes place a high position in the statistic. Probably there are a few reasons. First, at first, phonetics is problematic for foreigners because one can find digraphs or diphthongs in Polish. The next challenge is the difference between speaking and writing. On the other hand, we have to bear in mind that spelling is also a nightmare for Polish native speakers. Rumours about Polish widespread worldwide and discourage foreigners but not you!
I must say the great adventure is close to you! Just take advantage and start learning Polish.
How to learn Polish
I have heard this question several times running Polish classes for foreigners. Make the word list with frequent simple words or download it from our website. Consistently, practice it every day but not for long hours learn by heart. It is the shortest way to give up. Just slowly and steadily choose 5 or 7 new words daily. Every linguist agrees that during learning a foreign language the most important is the routine and repetition of vocabulary. Moreover, it is widely known that 6 thousand words are enough to understand everyday conversations.
From my perspective, learning by heart is fusty, passed to history. Currently, if you want to be on top and up-to-date with a way of learning, choose IT tools. Undoubtedly, it is a good idea to study using cutting-edge technologies. On the Internet, one can find a lot of different platforms and apps for learning a language. Just try and choose what you need. Thinking that the IT environment has made us less interactive with people around us is ridiculous. Each solution has pros and cons but on the other point of view, Apps make studying less tedious.
When you discover typical basic Polish words, it is time for learning the alphabet. In the case of the Polish language, we have to remember special soft consonants like “ś”, “ć”, “ź”, “dź”, “ń” and digraphs like “sz”, “rz”, “dż”, “cz”. Foreigners also sometimes trip on two Polish vowels with decoration. It means “ę” and “ą”. As long as you practice under the teacher’s wing, you will avoid mistakes in pronunciation. During phonetics meetings organized in Let’s speak Polish school, we like singing Polish songs. Simple lyrics, music and tone make studying more interesting. In addition, you can hear the Polish language melody and prosody.
Frankly, pronunciation is crucial because thanks to it you will avoid misunderstanding. There is always the risk of not understanding by the other interlocutors at the beginning of your way of learning Polish.
Practice with native speakers
It sounds like the next gold rule. Listening to Poles, watching videos, movies, podcasts and more. Even if at the beginning you understand only a few words, don’t worry. The results will be seen by you faster than you think. It allows you to immerse yourself in Polish. Although, you feel ashamed of speaking Polish at the beginning, time is in your favour. Foreigners can practice declension and conjugation in context during conversation. Common structures in spoken Polish can be gained in this way.
It is highly likely to discover also Polish idioms then. Spoken unformal language is full of them. If you dream about a high level of language skills, remember that sayings are really important. Moreover, idioms allow us to discover Polish history, culture and traditions. They are a kind of treasure of Polish. Pay special attention to them because they make conversation to be more smooth and natural.
Remember about grammar
I know grammar is boring and discouraging but on the other hand, this aspect of language is really necessary. Making grammar mistakes provides misunderstanding and shows poor language skills. Unknowledge of grammar could block speaking and makes one wants to get away. Sometimes when I am talking with our foreign students they admit grammar is a treacherous path in their mind. It is not entirely true. If the teacher can persuade his students that it is a key point, they will meet the pleasure of studying with a bit of luck. There is no point in rejecting this branch of Polish.
Travel a lot
It has long been known that travel educates. One can discover new places, cultures, languages and history of various countries. Moreover, travelling engages all our senses and makes us immerse ourselves. The brain is associated with our feelings and collects beautiful memories. A journey around Poland is also a good idea from the other point of view. Imagine a situation where you have to deal with something in a shop or on public transport speaking Polish. Suddenly, you have to handle it and start speaking even if your language skills – in your opinion – are still not enough good.
Reading and writing
The last tip that I highly recommend is reading and writing in Polish. Both skills are really necessary if you want to settle down in Poland. During reading Polish books one can gain new vocabulary and structures in the context. Of course, in the beginning, the most important is to understand the gist of the text. Enjoying the language will come with time.
Summing up, the most important are:
1. Making the basic words list
2. Practising alphabet and phonetic
3. Choosing native teachers
4. Being around Poles, speaking with them, listening to them, gaining the idioms and unformal language
5. Watching Polish movies, programs, podcasts and other
6. Remembering about reading and writing
7. Travelling around Poland
8. Not believing in gossip that Polish is the most difficult language in the world
I firmly believe that Henry Ford was correct. He said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”. I wish you an amazing experience.