by Rachel Jackson
Learning a new language is really exciting. It can also be pretty challenging. In the case of Polish, there are some things that make it extra tricky – there are numerous genders, conjugations and aspects to contend with. But there are also some things that make it easy in comparison to other languages. For instance, did you know that word order is rarely that important in Polish? Or that there only five verb tenses compared to 16 in English?
If you're starting out on a Polish language learning journey, there are plenty of resources and strategies you can try. Here are seven things that can help:
Attending a Polish language class, particularly if it's led by a native Polish speaker, will help you to develop your language skills considerably. You'll work on all aspects of language – speaking, listening, writing, reading, vocabulary and grammar. Having a teacher to help you with Polish grammar can be especially useful – it's pretty tricky to master all seven cases, three genders and aspects if you're learning alone.
There are some amazing language learning apps available for your smartphone. Some provide a fully-fledged language course. Others will provide little titbits of language knowhow – for instance, new vocabulary every day or help with grammatical tenses. Apps like Babbel, Duolingo and busuu all have Polish versions.
Language learning materials can be costly. But don't let that dissuade you from getting started with Polish. There are some amazing resources available to download from the internet. Some are free and available to use for everyone. Others are copyrighted and not strictly supposed to be shared online. If you do decide to seek out torrent sites for your downloads, be sure to use a VPN (virtual private network). This will encrypt your internet connection and protect your online activity from prying eyes.
Improve your Polish language skills as you get your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram fix. Find Polish groups or feeds to follow and then make the effort to read and translate their posts. This is really handy for getting to grips with written Polish – a mix of Latin and diacritic letters (and sometimes without a vowel in sight!) – that English speakers often struggle with.
Another great way to learn Polish is by watching Polish movies and TV shows. If you're a beginner, try to get English subtitles if possible. Then as you improve, graduate to Polish subtitles before doing away with them altogether. Set up a Language Exchange Speaking and understanding spoken Polish is notoriously difficult. English speakers often struggle to master some letter combinations and native Poles don't always pronounce words consistently. In fact they often leave off the ending of words making it really difficult for a learner! The only way to improve your spoken fluency and your understanding is practice, practice, practice. A language exchange with a native Polish speaker is a great place to start. Head to a site like Conversation Exchange, find a Polish speaker who is learning English and then help each other to learn your new language.
This might not be within everyone's budget. But if you can travel to Poland you really should. Not only will it be a great cultural experience. It will also help you to progress rapidly with your language skills. Reading Polish street signs, hearing Polish spoken in the street and making your own first attempts at communication will all help to cement the basics of Polish in your mind.
Polish isn't the easiest language in the world. But nor is it the most difficult. Find the language learning tools that work best for you and then practice every day. You'll soon be making progress towards your Polish language goals
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