By Ken, Teacher in Warsaw
Dzień dobry wszystkim!
To impress the natives and to immerse yourself further into Polish culture I fully recommend learning (or trying to learn) the Polish language. This blog post will cover tips and help for all of you willing to try this task. DISCLAIMER: I will only say this once, but Polish is incredibly tricky and I am not responsible for any headaches that may arise from attempts to learn this wonderful and wickedly difficult language. You have been warned! Don’t worry, no one will ask you to pronounce “Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz”!
So without further ado, let’s get started…….
Possibly the most popular app to use for learning languages, Duolingo offers a great way to learn Polish! It will teach you all of the basics of Polish as well as some intermediate grammar. Duolingo has a green owl as its mascot (incidentally called Duo) and has a range of interactive activities designed to test you in every aspect. You also have the option to earn XP through completing daily tasks. This XP can be used to earn badges and other cool things, such as learning awards/achievements, progressing through ranks to higher leagues and adding to your language learning streak (I’ve studied over 1000 days in a row!). Duo comes free of charge but there is also a paid version which gives you extra features. What I love about Duolingo is that it is very easy-to-use, simple to understand and also makes language learning fun. Duo is highly recommended for starting out! Once you finish Duolingo and need something more advanced, I recommend Clozemaster.
Clozemaster is a website which gives the user much more complicated Polish grammar and sentences to try and understand. It gives you much more practice than Duolingo and really helps with understanding grammatical structures such as Polish prepositions and declinations. Like Duolingo it comes with free and paid versions, and features several different activities to test your memory and skills. Whatever you do, do NOT attempt Clozemaster before Duolingo or you may end up mightily confused! Don’t get me started on what “biernik” and dopełniacz” are……. Should you become confused with anything (which is almost inevitable!) there are several articles and pointers on the Clozemaster website which will hopefully help.
Hellotalk is a great way to speak to natives in Poland! This app allows you to speak to other people in various different countries and really enhances your language learning experience. It also has a social media-esque style to it, meaning that you can share your thoughts or feelings on your page in your target language, and other people can correct you if you have any mistakes in your posts. You also have the option to privately message people and chat to them, and then after a certain amount of messages you get the chance to call them through the app. It’s a great way to make friends and in my opinion it’s the best way to practice speaking if you’re not in Poland yet (unless you have a Polish teacher of course!) In my opinion speaking Polish is the hardest aspect of the language, so if you really want a challenge I suggest trying to speak on Hellotalk.
- Don’t study for hours on end – unless you’re Superman/woman and/or you have a photographic memory your brain will stop absorbing new information after a certain amount of time. Take plenty of breaks so that your brain can get a chance to relax!
- Allow yourself to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes- it’s the best way to learn and it’s also very unreasonable to expect yourself to understand everything straight away! (I need to remember this myself……)
- Make it part of your routine – Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes a day, incorporate language learning into your daily routine. Practice and consistency are key!
- Get into good habits – If you’re waiting for a bus or have a few minutes to spare on your lunch break, instead of mindlessly daydreaming, do a lesson or two! You’ll be surprised at how much they add up!
And above all…..
Have fun! Learning a language shouldn’t feel like a chore such as washing the dishes or vacuuming your room. Yes, Polish is difficult but so is life and we’re all still living. As they say, fortune favours the brave and you’re certainly brave to be trying to learn this language which may feel like trying to crack The Da Vinci code at times, but persevere and thou shall conquer! Or something along those lines.
So if that has inflamed your cerebral synapses, why not apply?