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Learn individual words or sentences? Best approach? (Polish learners)

AntMan 1 | -
31 Oct 2018 #1
How do polish learners go about absorbing vocabulary? Sometimes I don't know what to learn or I'm not organized. Should I read more or listen more? Listening to the Polish radio. I understand a few words. but 99.9991% is just noise. How do you get to the point where you understand 80% or 90% of it? There are literally thousands of words? Learning individual words is not a issue but long sentences are more challenging. Am I overthinking it?
mafketis 24 | 9,369
31 Oct 2018 #2
A lot depends on what your first language is, what foreign languages you know, how long you've been studying, how you've been studying etc in other words a lot of information you haven't given us.

Two methods that are very good for putting vocabulary into your longterm memory.

Do grammatical exercises by hand (and by memory). so if you're asked to turn the following sentence into the plural

Okno jest brudne.

you close the book and write out your answer by hand from memory and only move on when you can write

Okna są brudne. without any mistakes (it doesn't hurt to do the same thing with the original sentence.

The idea is to give your short term memory regular workouts with Polish words (and the changes they undergo). For that matter doing the same with simple texts (writing each sentence by hand from memory moving on from one only when you can write it correctly from memory.

You want to put words into your longterm memory but you can't do that by just wanting to, the way to do that is by using your shortterm memory a lot.

Another idea is to read things out loud, don't worry if you don't understand but 4 or 5 times a week read something out loud for 5 minutes or so. This is easy with Polish since spelling can be easily decoded.

Those are both very effective in any context for learning a foreign language.
Atch 17 | 3,427
31 Oct 2018 #3
All good advice from Maf. I would also suggest building your vocabulary of nouns to start with and also learning a few basic useful phrases so that you feel you're actually learning to speak and communicate in the language which is really the purpose of learning it afterall. So invest in a phrase book, the sort of thing you'd take on holiday and for a start, set a goal of being able to introduce yourself and your immediate family members, talk about where you live, what your job is etc and be able to ask the same questions of someone you meet.

You can build your knowledge of nouns by doing things like making your grocery shopping list in Polish. You'll soon know the names of all the basic foods. Then imagine going shopping and asking for those things in a shop, or asking the price of them eg. You'll see how those nouns change into a different form depending on the sentence or as Maf pointed out, the plural. What if I don't just want to buy an apple but five apples. Then you can imagine coming home from your shopping trip and discussing what you bought, "I wanted to buy Earl Grey tea but there was none. I ordered it. Unfortunately I forgot to buy coffee." Those few sentences translated into Polish give you the past tense of some common verbs plus some changes of the noun forms.
Lyzko 29 | 7,275
31 Oct 2018 #4
I can only concur on this point with both my Forum colleagues!

Add to that though NEVER BE DISCOURAGED by anybody who, hearing you struggle, insists on trying to speak English; hold your own and keep on pitchin',

When I was living in another European country in whose language I wasn't arm-chair secure, I too would typically look stuff up in the dictionary the night before,

try working out a reasonable facsimile of a dialogue in that language, and then going respectively to the bank, store, wherever, and trying to communicate what I

wanted to say. And it actually worked! No English necessary and I ended up learning a lot of Spanish in the process which I could use both at work and at school.

Try to avoid, at least in the beginning, getting bogged down in grammar, especially Polish grammar. Spanish hasn't as many bramble patches and is much more straight forward for native Anglophones. If case endings are wrong etc. sure it's confusing for the other person, but generally they'll at least try to understand.

If all else fails, try just writing stuff down which seems to be confusing and probably within a few seconds or so, they'll get the point:-)

Richthecat 8 | 68
31 Oct 2018 #5
Ok so,

I would not say that I am fluent but definitely can get by in polish and have a good detailed conversation so this is how I did it. It won't work for all but it may work for some.

The first trick is a mental thing when you hear stories that children learn a language 3 times faster than adults it is true but why? It is because as adults we make learning languages harder for ourselves because we add an extra step along the way. We hear a word, translate this word in our head. Then when we speak we know what we want to say in our own language, and then we translate it. Children don't if you tell them this is a chair, they don't think chair = krzesło they learn that a chair is what they see in their mind's eye as a chair, hence removing the translation step.

So how do you achieve this? You need to train your Brain to think in the language you want to learn. So when you are thinking of something try to form those thoughts in your desired language. Start off simple, with things like shopping lists and the like. When you are in the shop don't think I need bread milk cheese, think Potrzebuję chleba, mleka i sera do this 3 or 4 times a day and then start to make things more and more difficult. What you will find is when you come to speak your new language you will automatically form the words in your mind and not have to translate this will make it so much easier to have a conversation.

Next is simple Practice Practice Practice but actively practice because just listening to the radio won't work unless you really want to understand what's going on. You need to listen to something you really have an interest in, something that fascinates you in your desired language, as this will motivate you to actively listen and this will help you learn a lot quicker.

Next, the wonderful thing about living in Poland is that you have access to native speakers all the time and for free, so every time you have a chance to speak Polish do.

Every day there is an opportunity for a free lesson and I love this. Go to polish parties and don't just listen get involved with the conversation express your opinions and don't worry about making mistakes in my experience the Poles will just love that you are trying to speak their language.

So when you get to a point that you can hold a decent conversation with people you need to then start to ask them to correct you. In general, people are polite so they won't but if you ask in my experience people are more than willing to help you out.

I didn't bother with lessons or grammar and in my experience, this is the best way.

So that's my two pennies worth
Lyzko 29 | 7,275
31 Oct 2018 #6
Makes perfect sense to me.

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