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I need some encouragement from Polish language speakers!

Andy1845c 1 | 4
13 Jan 2010  #1
Hello all. I am fairly new here. About 3 months ago I met a Polish girl in an online chat room, and became quite good friends with her. Shes quite fluent in English, but being the curious type, I decided to explore her language a bit, and have found I find Polish very interesting.

I also find it incredibly complicated. For the past 3 months I have been trolling around here, listening to Polish music, bought a PL/ENG dictionary and a book on basic grammar, have been pondering the banner ads on Gadu Gadu, ect. ect. No formal study, but I feel like I am picking up new words at a fair pace for the amount of time each day i can devote to studying.

But the declension. The word order. And other grammar rules just have not started to sink in.

Things like all the different words for "you" ciebie cię tobie tobą ect. Just doesn't make sense yet....

Should I not worry about these things until I know some more words and basics? Or is it imperative that I learn the grammar rules as I go?

I spent 2 hours this evening reading the Grammar artical on this site -

Very little makes sense and I just find myself discouraged.

I am just kinda wondering if I just casually study Polish for a while and soak up new words and phrases, will the grammar get clearer?


RonWest 3 | 120
13 Jan 2010  #2
Hang in there, it's not exactly the easiest language to learn. I've been with my Polish wife 10 years now and am still trying to learn!
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
13 Jan 2010  #3
Over the years I have taught Polish to English speakers and English to Polish speakers and have found that the best way to qucikly acquire the basics of practical speech is not to worry about declensions or conjugations but to try to pick up things the way a small child does -- in segments. So don't think about cię being the accusative of ty or kocham being 1st person singular of kochać. Through repetition learn that 'Kocham cię' means 'I love you'. Full stop! And 'Jutro dam ci pięć funtów' = 'I'll give you 5 quid tomorrow'. Sure, you may wonder why someone said cztery funty (not funtów), but simply accept it, repeat it and let it sink in. Once you have acquired a number of common phrases you'll be on your way to effectively speaking rudimentary Polish and have something to buiild on. Anyway, that's my 3 groszy worth.
BevK 11 | 248
13 Jan 2010  #4
Couldn't agree more. I'm struggling as I am the first to admit but that's because I am expecting to progress far faster than I am - it comes in fits and starts and "aha!" moments.
strzyga 2 | 993
13 Jan 2010  #5
I'm not a native English speaker, but I do have some experience with teaching English and my advice for you would be for now to do what you're already doing and not change anything.

You're getting exposed to some Polish - let it soak in. Guess the meanings, check up a random word in a dictionary when you're curious about it, pick up whole ready-made phrases, gather some vocabulary and don't worry about the grammar. Just get familiar with Polish now. This is the first, expository phase, often completely overlooked by people who approach a language armed with a grammar book from day one and then want to learn it all at one go. But the phase is very important. That's the way of children. Passive knowledge - listening, recognizing and understanding - goes first, before they even start speaking. But when they do, they already have a significant amount of passive knowledge to build on, and then it goes fast.

An adult won't probably become quite fluent in a foreign language without learning some grammar, but it's a long way yet for you. Don't try to learn grammar rules before you need them. As you've already noticed, the Polish grammar can overwhelm an English-speaking beginner. So instead of letting it discourage you, try to get some feel of the language first. Then check up the things that you feel you need to know and don't get overzealous about grammatical correctness. This will come later, if you're persistent enough. In time you'll probably feel that you need to have some things put in order and then your grammar book will come in handy. And you'll be much more successful with it when working with material you already have some knowledge of.

So, just remember that good memory and right brain (as opposed to left) is equally important in getting to know a language as grammar books, and stay tuned :)

Now I see that Polonius has already written it all, in a much shorter form :) He's absolutely right.
emmajo 3 | 19
13 Jan 2010  #6
Hi Andy

I am a native English speaker and have been learning Polish since June last year. Like you, I read some information on grammar near the start which made absolutely no sense and made me wonder was I a little bit mad to be learning such a hard language!

I left the grammar and just concentrated on learning phrases, words etc. I have a couple of good books - Colloquial Polish is really good and I use the BYKI software. Over the last couple of months I have started to understand a little bit of the grammar and am starting to look at the phrases that I have learnt to find out why the words are used the way they are.

Hang in there, and like everyone else has said don't worry about the grammar too much now.

caprice49 4 | 224
13 Jan 2010  #7
But the declension. The word order. And other grammar rules just have not started to sink in.

Hang in there. It all slots into place in the end. But don't worry about getting it right. It will take a while.
Derevon 12 | 172
13 Jan 2010  #8
"Context" and "phrases" are two very important keywords when learning Polish. When it comes to for example learning all those personal pronouns, rather than learning all the 100 or so different forms in a table, you should put them in simple sentences and learn these sentences by heart. I already put together such sentences when practicing myself, and those are available as electronic flash cards (tagged "personal_pronoun") available in Anki: in the Polish-English deck available for download from inside it. These sentences are like: "nie ma go tu", "dała mu pieniądze" etc, and they worked rather well for me.

Another good way to get a feel for Polish syntax etc is through watching movies and/or TV-series with Polish subtitles. These subtitles are also good for taking practice sentences from). Also remember that there is a huge difference between proper written Polish and Polish as it's actually spoken on the streets, so if your aim is mainly being able to converse in Polish, reading news sites and similar will not be very helpful, and contrariwise, if you want to be able to read news sites, dealing with colloquial situations is not very effective. As for myself I've been focusing too much on reading, and as a result I don't really understand very well when people talk in Polish (unless they're reading some text out loud or something).
vndunne 43 | 279
13 Jan 2010  #9
I so feel your pain...!!! As anyone who has started to learn polish will do.
As the others have said, spend a bit of time on words and phrase and then gradually introduce grammar to it. You will see where it all fits in over time. It is not going to happen overnight. I have had a few 'why am i bothering' moments, but then i go back to it with a fresh head, and it starts to make sense.

One thing is, that you wont learn it doing just and hour or two a week. I am determined to learn some level of polish this year so i am trying to give it an hour, at least, a day. I dont have a 'language' brain so it does take a while for stuff to sink in.

Keep at it.....
Trevek 26 | 1,702
13 Jan 2010  #10
but simply accept it,

Yeah, my old teacher used to say "because it is!". No explanation would really help anyway.
dhennie_jo 4 | 31
13 Jan 2010  #11
I feel the same way with you... Im also begginer of learning polish language. Its really hard for me but i think we will learn it even how hard it is hehehe Just keep studying ^^
frd 7 | 1,399
13 Jan 2010  #12
I dunno if it's not a bit too much over a girl you've just met in a chat room. I hope it's not gonna end up in a bitter disappointment. This forum is full of venomous threads posted by dumped people or who were in a relationship that didn't work out. It's easy to start doing lots of unnecessary when you're in love. Be careful and good luck Andy.
13 Jan 2010  #13
that's my 3 groszy worth

er... you mean that's your "3 grosze worth"!
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
13 Jan 2010  #14
Thta's a good question. What is the English plural of grosz? Grosze, groszy? Does the 2 to 4 = nominative and 5 & above = genetive rule apply to English? I have even occasionally seen groschen (from German) used.

With PLN it's easier: one złoty, 2,3,4 ,5, etc. złotys or złots for short.
13 Jan 2010  #15
I wasn't being serious, bud
frd 7 | 1,399
13 Jan 2010  #16
Thta's a good question. What is the English plural of grosz? Grosze, groszy? Does the 2 to 4 = nominative and 5 & above = genetive rule apply to English? I have even occasionally seen groschen (from German) used.
With PLN it's easier: one złoty, 2,3,4 ,5, etc. złotys or złots for short.

Grosze is proper plural form of Grosz, Groszy is just a different case. Of course I'm talking about the case you've mentioned "wtrącić swoje 3 grosze".
stevepl 2 | 49
13 Jan 2010  #17
I agree with Polonius and Strzyga. I've been learning for 10 years by that method and can communicate fairly well in Polish ( I make lots and lots of grammatical errors though).

On the other hand it's really horses for courses. I was on an intensive 3 week summer course for Polish (immediately before starting work for a company where no one spoke English). There were people there such as professional translators, language buffs etc. Who prior to the course had studied the grammar and after sitting the assesment test went immediately into classes for intermediate and advanced levels (waste of time in my opinion as they could hardly string a sentence together as they had no vocabulary).

At the other extreme I was in the beginners class (along with all the Americans who could speak so fluently that my wife thought they were native Polish speakers. They simply couldn't read or write in Polish).

If you've got good language skills study the grammar, the vocabulary will come later and you'll probably be word perfect.

If you're a mere mortal start with learning simple phrases and build from there. Try eventually putting yourself into situations where you have to use Polish. The grammar will never come easily but most Polish people will understand you if you can at least conjugate the basic verbs correctly.
elkrupski 3 | 15
13 Jan 2010  #18
I have been looking at the Polish language for the past few weeks. I usually dance around a language for a month or two. Looking at it, putting it down, looking at it again, getting just a little taste and I have to tell you...Polish seems really hard for me! I speak French which is the easiest to learn and I even found Albanian easier than Polish.

There is a language program you can download for free called Byki. It is not high class but is covers the basic things, days, greetings, learn by reading, listening, repeating and writing. You should check it out.

To me it when you learn a language it is good to eat sleep and drink the language. I put Post-it-notes all over my house nameing whatever I stick it on in the language I want to learn..door, wall, couch, good mornings and how are you's on the frig so i see it when I wake up.
OP Andy1845c 1 | 4
13 Jan 2010  #19
Wow..... Thank you all so much for the replies and advice!

I feel a little better now.

I have never studied a foreign language before, so I don't know exactly how one normally starts out. Right now I enjoy the language when I can pick up a new word, remember all the days of the week in Polish, count past 10, ect. But the grammar overwhelms me so much that it takes all the fun out of it.

One thing I will say, as has been said on here before, learning a 2nd language makes you look at your first in a whole new light. Some days I feel barely fluent in English. It was never my best subject in highschool, and I never attended any college courses. After getting my feet wet in Polish, I think I actually have gone out of my way to improve my English grammar. lol

FRD - No romantic possibility with my Polish friend. :) Shes just a friend. I kind of lost my train of thought last night when I posted. My point is, she is the one that introduced me to the language. I don't have Polish family members or anything. Theres really no reason to learn the language, except for fun and the possibility of a more meaningful visit to Poland someday.

I'd love to meet a Polish friend in my area. No idea how to search for one though. There is a Polish Cultural center in Minneapolis, MN - but thats a 2 hour trip by car - one way...... and they have Polish classes too. :(
sadieann 2 | 205
13 Jan 2010  #20
found that the best way to qucikly acquire the basics of practical speech is not to worry about declensions or conjugations but to try to pick up things the way a small child does -- in segments

Exactly. Sounds strange, but children's books, cartoons and basic words. I listen, listen, and listen. I then apply it to the context of the conversation. I find it easier to understand in person or watching subtitled movies than actual reading. I can make out the meaning, but still at segment level.

Polonius3 & strzyga. Both gave a great approach and overview.

Determination. It helps to need to understand. If it's a strong attribute in your life; it becomes a necessity.
13 Jan 2010  #21

I also find it incredibly complicated.

In a book about Poland and poles, they say there is an URBAN LEGEND about a foreighn guy who in the 60s, could actually learn some polish.

But it is just an URBAN LEGEND.

The polish language is purely insane... The numerals will make you want to run away forever:
Michal - | 1,865
14 Jan 2010  #22
No, even Arabic is far harder than Polish.
BrutalButcher - | 391
14 Jan 2010  #23
Who cares about some creepy Chinese's opinion on this regard? I'd say learning a language depends on several factors, such as:

-Your age (I am sorry, but if you are like 25 and have started to learn Polish, you will have it harD)
-Your motivation
-Your learning method
-The intensity of your learning method.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,653
14 Jan 2010  #24
Beermat spamming again?

Mrschool100 is just spamming to try and promote his 'Polish flashcards' - which he avoids paying Polish taxes on!
14 Jan 2010  #25
I dont see any promotion of any flash cards. delphiandomine, are you on strong drugs again?
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
17 Jan 2010  #26
Buy Polish in 4 weeks (level 1) and 301 Polish Verbs. And you will understand most of it,
tonywob 6 | 43
20 Jan 2010  #27
I started out by just reading grammar books and trying to learn lists of rules and vocabulary. I can say that I regretted it after moving to Poland because although I could read some stuff, I was completely lost when I had to speak, and understanding people speaking was only slightly better. When I tried to speak, I found myself looking up tables in my head and often getting it wrong because I felt pressured.

Now, I'm concentrating completely on speaking and listening. I have a tutor and I am working through the Hurra Po Polsku books, which still covers grammar but covers it in a context which helps you remember it. You learn phrases and situations in which specific grammar is used.

As an example, I consider the locative case the most difficult to get to grasps with, but if you learn phrases that use the locative case you start to get a feel for what should happen, and most of the time you can start forming your own sentences and just know what feels right, e.g. Once you know how a few of the words decline, you can guess how new ones will by the endings. It really does work, and you start to get used it. Also, don't be discouraged, I found that even when I make grammatical (Some serious) errors, I'm still understood and people are happy to correct me.
Andy M 1 | 4
20 Jan 2010  #28
Hi, I'm new here and joined just today. First encountered Polish in 1970 and would have to say at the outset that motivation is the number one way to go. Mine was very high since I'd met a girl; who was to become my wife; on my first visit to Poland. Way back then, little or no English was spoken in that far flung region of Poland.

Method comes next. I'd been given a "Teach yourself Polish" from my fathers collection of language tutors. He told me that the book would be invaluable and to familiarise myself with as much as I could readily take in paying some attention to pronunciation of letters; basically as a child would spell c-a-t. No real upper case or grown up variants, so that was pretty straightforward. He next directed me to conjugate verbs, something that had existed in our household; English only; since as far back as I could remember. He then told me to cut card to pocket sized pieces; 3"x2" but lots of them plus rubber bands.

Short phrases were borrowed from the book, Polish on one side, English on the other. This was to be my life from now on. Any spare moment could be usefully spent "translating" back and forth. I had hundreds of them. Within a few short weeks I was writing letters and even speaking on the phone. I still spent much time studying grammar since it is the glue that binds it all together.

Over the years I've had sometimes only sporadic contact with Polish; after my wife learnt English she refused to speak Polish directly to me even during group conversations; but at other times the contact has been full on.

My fathers final piece of advice, now get a woman who speaks the language but of course I'd already done that.

The four years I spent living in Poland was most decidedly the most educational of all but by that time I was already reasonably fluent in all 3 disciplines but what you can't ever learn from phrasebooks is a feel for it as it is spoken and I've not yet come across books in carpentry, plumbing, building, in fact anything that I was interested in that would give me alternative vocabularies. That can only be learnt on the ground, living it 24/7.
20 Jan 2010  #29
[quote=MrSchool100]The polish language is purely insane... The numerals will make you want to run away forever:[quote]

people who want to establish the most stupid Guiness records in the world.

Go on, establish a world record, be THE FIRST GUY in the world who will learn
polish language in less than 16 years!

Is that enough motivating for you?;)
OP Andy1845c 1 | 4
6 Feb 2010  #30
Hey everyone,

Just wanted to pop back in and say I haven't given up, and the more I explore the language, the more has begun to make sense.

I sure wish I had a native speaker to practice with, but at least there is so many great resources online about Polish.

Home / Language / I need some encouragement from Polish language speakers!
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