How to learn Polish?

Oftentimes I wonder what makes that a lot of people sample to learn a foreign language but do not achieve the intended goal? Why does their motivation burn out faster than they expected? What are the  main reasons for this: personal predispositions, inadequate target setting, wrong choice of language school or the  teacher. Maybe the reason is in the method of teaching.

HOW TO ACQUIRE SKILL OF SPEAKING A NEW FOREIGN LANGUAGE?

If we look at the traditional methods of teaching it is no brainer that some teachers run classes using: a textbook, a workbook, a sheet of paper and a pen.  We have to take into account that the world has changed thus the way of thinking about learning have changed parallelly.  It is not surprise that young students prefer acquire knowledge using E- learning platform where they can find interesting materials and exercises, indeed. Instead of traditional flashcards, many learner use IT tools like Quizlet. Connecting the pictures and words is more attractive. More importantly, they take a possibility to listen to the new vocabulary and to practise  Polish pronunciation. The grammar does not have to boring and mundane if we practice difficult issues using Kahoot or LearningApps platform. Curiously, learners get instant feedback about what works and what does not work.

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WHY IS POLISH LANGUAGE HARD TO LEARN?

In my everyday work I face the query: why is  Polish language  hard to learn? Why is it one of the most difficult languages in the world? According to the research it is among of five languages, which are acquired with effort.

THE ALPHABET AND POLISH PRONUNCIATION

Polish belongs to the group of Slavic languages. Its characteristic feature is the alphabet, which is based on Latin alphabet but the foreigners can find many quirks in it.

First of all it is a group of seven characters used to represent a single sound. There are: sz, cz, ch, dź, dż, rz, dz.  Furthermore, two graphic signs – ch and rz – represent the same  sound. How can we recognize them? – the foreigners ask me – if we hear the same sound but the spelling is different. However, we have to remember that even Polish people have a problem with Polish spelling. Slowly and steadily, step by step you discover the best way to remember words with strange characters.

The next quirks of Polish pronunciation is a group of soft consonants like: ś/si, ć/ci, ź/zi, dź/dzi, ń/ni. What is the difference? – the foreigners ask. We have to remember that every double graph included vowel “i” is longer than character with the line/mark/hyphen.

The vowel  system includes eight sounds but nine letters: a, ą, e, ę, i, o, u/ó, y. There are two specific sound, called nasal: ą, ę. The rules of their pronunciation depend on the consonants close to them.  For instance:

– ą and ę when preceded by consonants w, f, z, s, ż, sz, ź, c, ch or at the end of a word, are pronounced with a nasal a, e.

– ą and ę when preceded by consonants ł and l are pronounced as o,e

– ą and ę when preceded by consonants p, b are pronounced as om, em

– ą and ę when precede by other consonants are pronounced on, en

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THE POLISH GRAMMAR IN A NUTSHELL

DECLINATION – A LESSON RAIN DOWN HARD? 😊

What also makes Polish so hard? I reckon it is Polish grammar. First issue is noun and its gender: masculine, feminine or neuter. Some linguists name five genders: apart of them, masculine animate and masculine inanimate. How to recognize the gender of noun correctly? It is not a piece of cake for foreigners. Masculine usually end in a consonant (seldom they end in -a; perhaps: kolega, poeta, kierowca); feminine nouns end in -a or – i; neuter nouns usually end in – o, – um, – e, – ę.

Furthermore, there are seven grammar cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative and plenty of suffixes for declinations.  The nouns change their form depending on their function in a sentence.

The other words being declined are adjectives. They have also 3 genders in singular and 2 genders in plural.

CONJUGATION – WHAT IS IT? 😊

Curiously, Polish verbs also change the suffixes depending on a conjugation and a subject. There are 4 groups of conjugation. In the first group it is represented by the verbs like: grać (to play), mieć (to have), dać (to give), czytać (ro read), wołać (to call). The way of conjugation is:

Ja gram                           my gramy

Ty grasz                           wy gracie

On/ona/ono gra            oni/one grają

In the second group of verbs there are words like: umieć (can), rozumieć (to understand), wiedzieć (to know), which are conjugated in the way:

Ja umiem                                   my umiemy

Ty umiesz                                   wy umiecie

On/ona/ono umie                   oni/one umieją

In the next group we can meet verbs like: płacić (to cry), suszyć (to dry), gonić (to chase) , łowić (to fish), wrócić (to come back), which conjugate:

Ja płacę                                      my płacimy

Ty płacić                                     wy płacicie

On/ona/ono płaci                    oni/one płacą

The last group is represented by: pisać (to write), kopać (to kick). Conjugate:

Ja piszę                            my piszemy

Ty piszesz                         wy piszecie

On/ona/ono pisze          oni/one piszą

It is no surprise that the appropriate method of teaching helps learners, both adults and kids, reach their foreign language acquisition targets as quickly and enjoyable as possible.  Obviously, explaining of Polish conjugations is not  an easy task. But on the other hand, if you meet wise teacher… do it because it is FUN.  The premise of my Polish course is always teaching through challenges and fun. Polish has not to be hard.

ASPECT OF VERBS – OBSESSION OF FOREIGNERS

The peculiarities of  Polish language are imperfect and perfect verbs. The foreign learners acquire a skill of recognise them an all – out – effort. When can we use imperfect and perfect verbs? What is the difference between them?

The nature of the problem is using both form correctly. We can use prefect verbs only for past and future tense (without present tense!) when we talk about actions which are completed or will be completed. By the same token we use imperfect verbs when the actions aren’t/ weren’t/ won’t be completed.

UNVEIL THE CONUNDRUM OF LEARNING POLISH

Several times I have heart from my students: ‘You are obsessed with teaching of Polish for foreigners’. Yes, I can’t deny. I am keen on sharing this passion for my mother tongue.  The process of learning new language from a child stage to the adult stage is connected with a long time, huge effort and plenty of repetition, indeed. Nevertheless, time is always on our side. My students take step toward fluency by  my peculiar way of teaching. I like unusual warm ups before class. They are quite interesting solutions to build nice relationships between people, allow to immerse in Polish  and lead to thinking in language other than a mother tongue.

When I sample to explain a new grammar issue, for a change, I like getting a proposal  IT tools like Kahoot or LearningApps. Thereby I create more friendly, stimulating, learning environment. Learners are free to choose how and when they will  learn, a teacher will be sure that obligatory materials will be done by students. Obviously, we have to bear in mind that this way of learning is more attractive than traditional and less complicated for a teacher. In a few minutes we have a mark and information about the progress of our students – both sides get instant feedback.

If you want to acquire a foreign language, remember that the grammar is not the most crucial. Every language is used to communicate with the other people.  This is the most important skill. This is your goal. I help you to face it as quickly as possible.