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POLES' ENGLISH COMPARED TO EUROPE AS A WHOLE?


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
15 Dec 2008 /  #1
It is often said that Europe's best English speakers are in the Germanic countries (Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, etc.) and the worst ones are in the Romance-language ones (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania). Where would you rank the level of Polish people's English in general?
noimmigration  
15 Dec 2008 /  #2
poor, even despite the fact that we brits pay for their english lessons.
EraAtlantia 2 | 106  
15 Dec 2008 /  #3
I have to say there is truth in that statement from my experience. I used to work with many italian and spanish. I saw some of them years later, many who had still remained in England all that time and they still sounded like they were in the country a few weeks. Their english was still pretty bad. Even over the years working with them their english speaking skills remained static....

The polish in general are pretty good i must say, some are excellent which is rare for me with regards to foreigners. I would rank them pretty high, obviously holland and scandanavia would earn gold.
Dziady - | 50  
16 Dec 2008 /  #4
It is often said that Europe's best English speakers are in the Germanic countries (Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, etc.) and the worst ones are in the Romance-language ones (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania).

I used to work with many italian and spanish. I saw some of them years later, many who had still remained in England all that time and they still sounded like they were in the country a few weeks. Their english was still pretty bad. Even over the years working with them their english speaking skills remained static....

It's funny this has been your experience. Though I'm unable to speak of much personal experience with Spaniards, the Italians I have known have all spoken English exceptionally. Era, do you mean to say their English was truly poor, or rather that they spoke with accents? I find the musical cadence of the accent with which my Italian friends speak very nice, really. They are all Northern Italians though -- Turin, Milan, Genoa -- so perhaps there is a regional distinction with regard to how well they master English.
EraAtlantia 2 | 106  
16 Dec 2008 /  #5
The italians I have encountered in general were quite poor, not their accents. Now this was working with maybe 10 to 20 and going to house parties and the like, i didnt spend days having tea and biscuits with them or anything. Mostly work. But enough to say that the ones I did experience were quite lagging in the up take of english.

But this is only my experience, not necessarily a proper reflection. Just a general point of view. I would say the spanish are the worst I have experienced in the learning of english. Some of them who have been here for years still remain very weak in conversation and comprehension. I have no idea why.
NikoBelic - | 1  
18 Dec 2008 /  #6
Maybe because people from foreign countries choose to socialise with fellow compatriots; which is common.

If a spanish person moved to england and only spoke English, their 2nd language skills would differ from the spanish person who only spoke English 10-50% of the time.

As an example, look at Fabio Capello. His English is pretty good now, considering how long he's been here. He knew next to nothing when he took over as England manager.
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893  
18 Dec 2008 /  #7
Where would you rank the level of Polish people's English in general

I hate to say this but I would say quite poor, Ive met some Poles that speak little or no English, I have never met a Spaniard or Greek or Italian with such low skills after a couple of years in the country.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
18 Dec 2008 /  #8
I agree with some of the above posters - poles do have poor english language skills. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the polish language being in a different language group (than english) or whether isolation/popularity of russian/german during the commie years had any affect on this. It is quite amazing how well scandinavians speak english though.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
18 Dec 2008 /  #9
And out come the golden words in English. I'm gonna start putting these words on the board at the start of every lesson, 'it depends'.

As a teacher, I have frequent exposure to how they speak English. I've met many gifted students but the general level is decidedly below that of Scandinavians, the Dutch, non-Flemish Belgians and arguably, the English ;) ;) ;) LOL

Nah, I don't think it's fair to judge those that go abroad unless you are in regular contact with them.
EraAtlantia 2 | 106  
18 Dec 2008 /  #10
Nah, I don't think it's fair to judge those that go abroad unless you are in regular contact with them.

Of course, its all circumstantial. English is practically a second language in those "stronger" countries. Scandinavia have english TV for a start and are continuously exposed to english music and sport, a certain level of adoption of english has taken place there. As with holland. But from my experience I think the polish rank high in speaking english.

Some are not so good of course but i recall many times interacting with polish who had no english and seeing how fast they progressed, it was very interesting.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
19 Dec 2008 /  #11
Spotting development is nice. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Marek 4 | 867  
20 Dec 2008 /  #12
Admittedly difficult and not always useful to generalize. However, my experience is more in line with those whose experience in English with Northern Europeans has been uneven. In my case, even though I speak many of the languages spoken in Northern Europe, many Dutch, Germans and Swedes have often such bloated egos regarding their English skills, as with the tortoise and the hare, they don't push themselves further above an easygoing, slangy vulgar American-sounding variety. Southerners and many Japanese, with a far harder time learning English, speak and write much better.

In the tortoise story, it was the tortoise who won....not the hare--:)!!!
Spavo 3 | 18  
21 Dec 2008 /  #13
I don't know the level of germanic countries, but in Italy it's really low... I know people who at the liceum still read "w" as "v" and yes, southern Italians have a lot more problems than northerns. As a Pole here my level is higher than my friends' level, but my cousin (who is now at Wroclaw university) speaks badder than an Italian who for example plays online games. I think a problem can be that the teachers tend to semplificate their spelling, so I understand very well what they say but when I try to watch an english movie I've got a lot of problems in understanding it, and a lot of my classmates wouldn's understand a single word...
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
21 Dec 2008 /  #14
EUROPE AS A WHOLE?

It should probably be filled in;)

The Polish people I deal with professionally have very good English skills. Not as good as the Dutch (but who is?) but still very good.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
21 Dec 2008 /  #15
It's probably the level of company that you keep in general Shelleys.

O now that’s just harsh. Unfortunately, I will have to agree with Shelley. An average Pole's English is very poor, especially if you want to compare his knowledge with the one of his Scandinavian or Dutch peers. I'm not talking here about any "professionals" but rather about an average Jan Kowalski. I blame it on the way kids are being taught the language at high school here. There is just too big focus being made on grammar, with the time spent on conversations almost equal to zero.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387  
21 Dec 2008 /  #16
I blame it on the way kids are being taught the language at high school here. There is just too big focus being made on grammar, with the time spent on conversations almost equal to zero.

This is an opinion that I share.

I'm not too keen on the fact that every school uses a different set book. The teacher chooses what's best. And I sometimes wonder who they are choosing the book for. Is it the students or themselves (the teachers)

Most English Language students I know have done well for themselves, but most of their advanced language skills come from a desire to do better.

There would be no need for many of the language schools, if more priority were given to school pupils.

Can someone tell me if, for example, Dutch pupils go trotting off for extra English lessons, in the numbers that they do in Poland.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837  
21 Dec 2008 /  #17
There would be no need for many of the language schools, if more priority were given to school pupils.

I used to teach English at university. I really worked my *ss off to make a contribution there, but most of the students had this really idiotic attitude that they were signed up for costly English courses outside uni, so would not bother to work during my class, because my class was free, and therefore crap by definition. They actually told me that. And they absolutely HATED any practical activities such as listening comprehension / talking in pairs / discussion as a group. They would be happiest when I relented and reviewed grammar with them for the zillionth time, or wrote long lists of vocabulary on the board.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387  
21 Dec 2008 /  #18
Magdalena,

I take your point completely.

I still think that, if lessons were better structured at the lower level, students would have a better attitude at the higher level.

Part of the problem in all this is the way parents push their kids to learn. I doubt many language schools would have so many pupils, if parents weren't paying for it. And then making sure that their children knew who was paying.

It seems that there might be a battle between pupil, teacher and parent.

I can't speak for all teachers, but some English Language Teachers in state schools are excellent, with natural ability and a way to effortlessly motivate.

I wonder if some parents realize that they are paying a languge school to cover the same material as a state school. And that pupils don't speak much in language schools unless they want to.

I could go on and on, but I'll save it.
southern 75 | 7,096  
21 Dec 2008 /  #19
It has to do with IQ.People from nations with higher IQ speak foreign languages better.
There is also some relationship between languages.I have noticed that Russians,Poles,Ukrainians speak much better greek than English or Germans after many years in Greece.

My guess is that Poles in Czech Republic or Russia speak much better the native languages than english or german expats do and the same is true for Ukrainians in Poland and Czech Republic.
EraAtlantia 2 | 106  
21 Dec 2008 /  #20
It has to do with IQ

I was gonna hint that earlier but then it might hurt some peoples pride. Although language is said to be from mostly the right side of the brain - is ones IQ based on the largely left side of the brain(structure etc)....

Poland rank 4th in Europe so by right they should be on the higher end. But English is more integrated in northern Europe than in the south or east so how can one fairly make a conclusion on this?
southern 75 | 7,096  
21 Dec 2008 /  #21
Yes,but polish language shares a structure which is common in slavic languages but totally foreign to english language while scandinavian languages have lots of similarities to english.I mean scandinavian brains are better wired to get the english while polish are more inept to other slavic languages and my guess is that Poles speak much better german than English or Scandinavians do.
Marek 4 | 867  
21 Dec 2008 /  #22
Frankly, I think that the Dutch are perceived as having such fluent English because they seem to have far less of a comical accent problem when speaking it than most other nationalities. Granted that's all true.

However, the overall quality of their spoken and even written English is often well beneath that of a moderately educated Asian or Eastern European, among whom I include the Hungarians!
westy - | 6  
21 Dec 2008 /  #23
I found that the Poles that have been here 3-4 years have learnt English out of obligation (since no one spoke Polish) whereas the poles that have been here only about 2 years have an easier time speaking Polish only all the time . Pity relly cos it will issolate them from the Brits and their own children how will speak English (as many an family who came from Asia will testify.

I think people one this thread are mistaken the Accent to the grammer. I love the Polish accent and hope Poles will not try to hide this. English is based originally on a language from the west of Holland (before people say 75% of words are French, I know but those words where added a good 1500 years late) so I guess it would make sense that the dutch find it easier accent wise.
krakow1 3 | 55  
21 Dec 2008 /  #24
There is just too big focus being made on grammar, with the time spent on conversations almost equal to zero.

This is a fair point Matyjasz
Siegfried 1 | 100  
8 Jan 2009 /  #25
It has to do with IQ.People from nations with higher IQ speak foreign languages better.

So what are you trying to say? That english people are basically dumb? ;) Because I dont see a lot of people here in britain speaking foreign languages ;)
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
8 Jan 2009 /  #26
Non sequitor. If we Brits had to learn foreign languages but proved to be universally useless at doing it then, if you accept Southern's link between IQ and language ability (which I don't by the way) then you could conclude that we are dumb. It's all about motivation to learn not ability to learn in our case.
cjjc 29 | 408  
8 Jan 2009 /  #27
I dont see a lot of people here in britain speaking foreign language

That's because we have the superiority complex of thinking that "oh we speak English we don't need to learn another language"

At school I learned French and to me it was a complete waste of time and effort I did not like France nor plan to go there so I was never interested in the language.

I think Poles are set into 2 groups. Those who will speak English and speak it well and those who will never speak it to any kind of decent level. I do also think that learning English for Poles should be relatively easy as their own language is difficult with it's genders and 7 cases.

All IMO of course.

:)
Kilkline 1 | 689  
8 Jan 2009 /  #28
So as the Brits, the Americans, the Germans and the Japanese are all bad at learning foreign languages so they've got low IQs? And yet they manage to be the most succesful economies in the world?

Maybe not learning foreign languages and having a successful economiy is related in some way. I'll leave the high IQ people to work out the link.
cjjc 29 | 408  
8 Jan 2009 /  #29
I'll leave the high IQ people to work out the link.

haha

:)
szarlotka 8 | 2,209  
8 Jan 2009 /  #30
I'll leave the high IQ people to work out the link.

Judging by my earlier problems with another type of link that rules me out then....

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