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Level of English among the Poles?


Peter2  
3 Jul 2006 /  #1
I'm trying to find a reliable Polish worker (white-collar job).

My question is: What does it mean when an average Polish person claims s/he knows English:

A. Well
B. Very well
C. Excellent

I talked to two Polish girls; each of them claimed they knew English very well. But in fact I hardly understood what they were talking; and I tend to think they didn't understand me well either.

So is there any "standard of knowledge" of the English language among the Polish people? If so, how to easily determine that? :)

Peter
Guest  
3 Jul 2006 /  #2
Some of them THINK they know English well (unfortunately). Speaking - not writing or reading - is the biggest problem.
lef 11 | 478  
3 Jul 2006 /  #3
Guest

I agree,some poles think they can speak english very well, but unfortunately when they speak it is very poor and very hard to understand....I think also there is a american english and a english english....it is impossible to know and speak english learning from a text book.
gosica 1 | 33  
4 Jul 2006 /  #4
The answer to the question about the knowledge of English may tell you a lot about differnet nations. Norwegians' answer to the question 'Do you speak English?' is: 'A bit.', but when you start talking to them, you're amazed how fluent they are (no matter their age!). An average Pole says, often with great pride or slightly hurt, 'I do!', but in fact... they don't. They falter, make mistakes in elemental grammar, and their pronouncation leaves much to be desired. They hold native - in their view incomprehensible - pronouncation responsible for their problems in communication with native speakers of English.

But that's a huge generalisation and excludes a growing numer of Poles that have few problems communicating in English. The conclusion is: it depends. The only solution is to talk to the person in person - live conversation is a real test.
Wujek_Dobra_Rada  
4 Jul 2006 /  #5
They falter, make mistakes in elemental grammar, and their pronouncation leaves much to be desired.

The native English speakers are doing this as well - especialy in the US, while in the UK many people are using various slangs - which makes it virtually impossible to understand what they`re saying - for people who studied standard English.
rafik 18 | 589  
4 Jul 2006 /  #6
I'm trying to find a reliable Polish worker (white-collar job).

are you from glasgow mate?:)if you are even english would not understand you but jokes aside thats true that lots of us say yes,"i do speak" english but we dont.what we learn in our schools is completely different to what we come across in uk 4 example
OP Peter2  
4 Jul 2006 /  #7
THANKS! So I guess I should be more careful when estimating the level of English among Poles. And I'm in the UK, not Scotland ;)
rafik 18 | 589  
4 Jul 2006 /  #8
its very easy to understand whats said in tv or when older people speak but when 2young english blokes talk it drives me crazy because i have problems with understanding themeven though i ve been living in this country(on and off) for 5 years. lots of poles know english grammar quite well but when they come here and they cant understand a word because of pronunciation they are shocked as was i when i came here first time in ..1999
bossie 1 | 123  
5 Jul 2006 /  #9
Most Poles speak English with mistakes of word use, word order and grammar, and with poor pronunciation. Even those who studied English at university or have lived in th UK for ages often fail to produce fluent speech. You may be lucky though as there are some Polish people who thanks to their musical abilities can actually learn to speak perfect English.

Most non-native speakers judge their own language abilities well when they become speaking without breaks - fluently in their opinion, however not always as well as it may seem.

Try to establish what degree of fluency you actually require and bet on those who get closest. Best of luck.

b
Guest  
5 Jul 2006 /  #10
I talked to two Polish girls

they probly ment they understand english very well. most polish people can understand just fine but cant speak or write it that well. the only way u will know for sure is if u actully talk to them.
BRONET  
23 Jul 2006 /  #11
because english is very different to polish, its hard to learn. same with english person trying to speak polish, talk like retards at best.

But hey, good that people are tolerant, because after all, english is a WOrld language, and there is flexibility amongst its users...... thank god.
Bombayisgreat - | 2  
12 Jun 2008 /  #12
Pols can speak better english than Indian
noimmigration  
12 Jun 2008 /  #13
I'm trying to find a reliable Polish worker (white-collar job).

why dont you find a british worker who actually was born and brought up speaking the english language for f*cksake.
LIDLJUGEND 2 | 34  
3 Jul 2008 /  #14
Swedes in general are good english speakers. So are the danes and dutch. Poles on the other hand are still a bit off. German is more widespread as a second language in Poland.
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
3 Jul 2008 /  #15
Swedes in general are good english speakers. So are the danes and dutch.

These are Germanic languages though - from the Same family as English. I speak a couple of languages, and can honestly say that Swedish was the easiest language for me (native English speaker) to master very quickly.

Poles on the other hand are still a bit off.

Polish is a slavic language on the other hand - different family of languages.

So is there any "standard of knowledge" of the English language among the Polish people?

No, I don't think that there is - and you can say that about any language. Some people are better attuned to languages than others, and sometimes a qualification is not really an indication. For instance, I have a friend who has a degree in French. He's happy to write about 17th century literature in French - yet would struggle to order a coffee in French.
LIDLJUGEND 2 | 34  
3 Jul 2008 /  #16
These are Germanic languages though - from the Same family as English. I speak a couple of languages, and can honestly say that Swedish was the easiest language for me (native English speaker) to master very quickly.

Yes, I know. My mom had some trouble learning Swedish when she first came here during Stan Wojenny. I on the other hand, grew up bi-lungual so I've never gave it much thought. But I can imagine learning a germanic language is difficult for a slav. It goes the other way around as well, although I have a Swedish friend who can recite W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie and other Brzechwa-poems like a lean-mean-Polish-speaking-machine ;)

Concidering the amount of American culture (movies, music etc..) in Poland (and all of Europe) available I'm surprised everyone don't speak "Poglish" at all times.

From Wikipedia:
The most common phenomenon is the Polonization of English words. Instead of saying (in English), "A cop gave me a ticket on the highway," or (in standard Polish), "Policjant dał mi mandat na autostradzie," a Polonian might say (in Poglish), "Kapy dały mi tikieta na hajłeju."
Switezianka - | 463  
3 Jul 2008 /  #17
I think the biggest problem for Poles is the treatment of oral skills in Polish education. English language teaching is based on written texts and often students don't even know how to pronounce words properly (often, they don't recognize a word when pronounced correctly). Because Polish phonetics is completely different from English (there is no vowel shared, and 'th' and 'ng' sounds do not exist in Polish), a lot of attention should be paid to it. But often teachers mispronounce words.

When oral skills are completely ignored at schools, students can often understand written text but they have problems with saying anything. In most schools students are almost never told to say something in English and, unfortunately, it is possible to learn to speak without speaking.

I give private lessons in English and I often ask my pupils about their lessons at school - it's usually a disaster. Kids never speak, the teachers do not explain grammar in a clear way and, as far as I can see, they don't actually teach anything. Once I had a pupil who had learnt English for 6 years and when, during our first lesson together, I told her in Polish to say: "I go to school" in English, she opened her eyes wide and didn't know what to do.

Although there are many qualified English teachers, English Philology graduates don't want to work at schools so the need for teachers is filled with non-qualified people. Teachers' wages are too small and the work is too hard. Parents who can afford it send children to private language schools or hire a teacher (usually a student) for private lesson, but not all Polish children are lucky enough to have parents who care about their education.

Anyway, I guess the generation of Poles who are now at school will be divided into children of more educated parents who speak English well and children of non-educated parents who don't speak English despite several years of learning it and who, consequently, cannot find a descent job.
EibmOz - | 5  
3 Jul 2008 /  #18
Polish are very good at speaking english...I was actually blown away man!At least the people with whom i've interacted with on other language sites such as italki.
Theroen 2 | 15  
3 Jul 2008 /  #19
My english is being very good
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
3 Jul 2008 /  #20
Your English what is being very good? Your dog? Your cat?

I am being very good as I am helping my GF chop up some veggies
Zgubiony 15 | 1,554  
3 Jul 2008 /  #21
Perhaps it's time to go to work Seanus. Still early in the day ya know....or is the above your teaching method? *wink*
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
3 Jul 2008 /  #22
I'm off work for the next week :)
miranda  
3 Jul 2008 /  #23
My english is being very good

Tamara 9 | 202  
3 Jul 2008 /  #24
OMG - that is a super video! I can't wait to show my husband it. He went to one of these classes in the US and came back after the first class and never went back! BTW - can I see this show on the internet somewhere? I'd like to see the rest of this episode? Are there more or is this the only one with this theme?

On another note, many of my husband's relatives have taken correspondence courses in English language in Poland. Their grammar skills are better than mine but they can't understand nor speak a word of English!
miranda  
3 Jul 2008 /  #25
Are there more or is this the only one with this theme?

it should be on DVD in any rental video store or there is more on youtube. There are 4 DVDs with 7 episodes on each. I love it.

It actually makes fun of English as well. LOL
LondonChick 31 | 1,134  
3 Jul 2008 /  #26
Awwwww.... I loved that show. Many thanks, Miranda :))
Tamara 9 | 202  
3 Jul 2008 /  #27
it should be on DVD in any rental video store or there is more on youtube. There are 4 DVDs with 7 episodes on each. I love it.

Help! In the US or in the UK? What is the name of the show?
miranda  
3 Jul 2008 /  #28
I am able to rent it in Canada. If you cannot in the US, then Amazon should have it.

Mind you language. BBC series.

PS. yup, I just checked and it is available on Amazon
Tamara 9 | 202  
3 Jul 2008 /  #29
Thanks Miranda!
miranda  
3 Jul 2008 /  #30
you are welcome and enjoy. I am watching it the second time around. There are a lot of inside jokes I have missed the first time.

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