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Learning Polish but not focusing on the grammar, good idea?


learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #1
I've been learning Polish for a few months now and have not learned much vocabulary as I have been focusing on the grammar. Something has to change or I'll never be able to say anything in Polish. Would focusing on vocabulary for a few months to learn some be such a bad idea? I know the grammar is important but I'm hoping I'll pick it up naturally along the way and then come back to it in a few months. Has anyone tried this approach or think it would work?
wmertens 1 | 5
11 Sep 2014 #2
Try just poking at pictures on babadum.com . I started doing that in July (not even every day) and by now I already get 100+ scores (which means that of 4 pictures I can tell which one is the word, more than 100 times). Not a bad way to gain vocabulary...

Grammar is a logical dissection of the rules of a language, which is something that you don't do while speaking. Our brain is a gigantic pattern matcher, and by speaking/hearing/reading the language you'll automatically start using the correct phrasing even if you don't know why.

See also fluentin3months.com/polish/ for a pep talk.
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #4
Thanks guys, I've started reading a book. I think I'll do that for a while just to get a feel of the language. Oh that guy who learned Polish so well is an inspiration.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,808
11 Sep 2014 #5
have a look at this site

polish-grammar-bigos.com
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #6
Thanks rozumiemnic, the songs make it really fun.
grspring 11 | 56
11 Sep 2014 #7
First, I'm not an expert at learning languages. I've tried several book and dumped allot of money into Rosetta stone. Still I struggled. Just so you know, I'm not selling books. Just saying what is finally working for me.

Recently I purchased one more book, Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner, which introduced me to the program ANKI. ANKI is free (Charge for iPhone,, iPad, Android etc) and used to make flash cards. You can create cards with Polish on front and English on back. I've even added audio for the Polish word and also a picture. Now when I look at a picture or look at the word there is an association. I am starting to skip translation and immediately know say what the work means.

It takes a little time but is worth it. I even created a category for conversations where I use the vocabulary I've learned in a sentence. This way I can put my vocabulary into a context and this is what is helping with grammar. Good email support and a good manual. All for free.

There are also plenty of language lists already made that you can download to get started.
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #8
ANKI is free (Charge for iPhone,, iPad, Android etc) and used to make flash cards.

Thanks I might give it a go. I am going to read and use an audio book (My Polish accent is soo bad!) for a week or two and see if that is a good approach. Can't face the grammar right now. Too boring. I'll probably go back to it after the week and do both at the same time. Flashcards never really worked for me while learning other languages but ANKI does sound good.

Can you put sentences together with it? I have learned some vocabulary in the nominative case so need to go back and learn how to say them all when using the different cases. Next week!
grspring 11 | 56
11 Sep 2014 #9
Can you put sentences together with it?

Yes, however I use a Google to get the pictures and connect sound, I keep the sentences simple so Google won't screw up the translation. I've learned when translating with Google do not include articles in the sentence being translated.

I'm only creating simple sentences making changes in gender mostly so the ending are correct. My big problem comes from "diminutives" but you can make cards with pictures and sound for this also also.
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #10
I keep the sentences simple so Google won't screw up the translation

Yeah google translate drives me mad, it's ALWAYS wrong. But I'm constantly using it. I'm using it to translate my book. Maybe I should try another translator.

I'm only creating simple sentences making changes in gender mostly so the ending are correct.

Yeah sounds like a good way to learn the endings.

Are you learning things relevant to everyday conversation from it? That's a problem I have, I'm learning a lot of vocabulary that won't help me in everyday conversation. But it all has to be learned anyway so I'll keep at it.
grspring 11 | 56
11 Sep 2014 #11
Are you learning things relevant to everyday conversation from it

Yes. I've made categories for food items, clothing, directions, things in the home, in specific rooms, colors, days weeks times of day, weather. When I return to Krakow I will be taking a course. For now I am mostly concerned with small sentences that will get me what I need. "Excuse me,where is the milk?". My wife being a native speaker understands my short sentences even with incorrect grammar. She says, "they may laugh but will understand what you need and probably not correct you. As this would seem rude".

Note on ANKI. It rotates the words out as you learn. You determine the rotation. I you don't remember a word tell it to do it again in 10 minutes or 1 day. I think adding pictures and sounds are primary to learning. From Google images I got swatches of all the colors I was learning with Polish pronunciation. You stop thinking in English and only associate the color with the polish word.
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #12
My wife being a native speaker understands my short sentences even with incorrect grammar. She says, "they may laugh but will understand what you need and probably not correct you. As this would seem rude".

That's really nice of her, she sounds really patient with it. Are you just learning Polish to communicate with your wife or do you live there? How long have you been learning for ?

Yes I'm the same, have been learning for a very short amount of time. I'd be really happy to be able to say stuff like that.

When I return to Krakow I will be taking a course]

That sounds like a plan. I'm sure it will really help. How are you finding the pronunciation?
grspring 11 | 56
11 Sep 2014 #13
Are you just learning Polish to communicate with your wife or do you live there? How long have you been learning for ?

I started learning about two years ago and got no where until now. My wife also speaks English. We are moving to Krakow next year for a 1-2 year stay. So I want to get around by myself with a translator.

How are you finding the pronunciation?

I am understanding how combinations of Polish letters sound making it easier to pronounce. Hearing them each time from a card certainly helps. Two things I can't do is roll "R's" but I have a Czech friend who can't do it either and spell correctly. I keep spelling as pronounced with English letters.
OP learningpolish
11 Sep 2014 #14
Two things I can't do is roll "R's" but I have a Czech friend who can't do it either and spell correctly. I keep spelling as pronounced with English letters.

I have the same problems, I can't roll my "r"s either or spell. I am letting the spelling slide for the moment. I don't really care about it, I just want to be able to speak!

We are moving to Krakow next year for a 1-2 year stay. So I want to get around by myself with a translator.

That sounds cool, hope you enjoy it. My problem is that I'm not moving there, have never been there and no plans to live there so it's hard to get motivated. I wish I could live there for a year or so to improve my Polish but I don't think it's going to happen. You'd be in a sink or swim position where you have to learn. That's how I learned other languages. It's the best way. I'm sure you will be fluent in no time. Plus if you are able to communicate with your wife already you must be doing something right.
sobieski 107 | 2,128
11 Oct 2014 #15
Grammar is a logical dissection of the rules of a language, which is something that you don't do while speaking. Our brain is a gigantic pattern matcher

The biggest collection of idiotic nonsense I have come across when learning a language. Get a life, learn the language the hard way - hours of boring grammar. Or end up with some expats I know who after living here for 10 years can just about order a beer in Polish.
Charlie Bungle
12 Oct 2014 #16
one of the first things to remember is that anyone who laughs at you for attempting to speak a foreign language, especially if it their own, is a bit of a tosser and probably doesn't deserve the respect of the effort you are making.

speak to them in english

secondly, although sobieski's masochistic method of language learning might work for some, people who know anything about language acquisition will tell you the best approach is to immerse yourself in the language. vocab is the key to communication. essential for foreign language learning and the very essence of the process of learning a new language.

makes sense if you think about it for a moment or two

leave the grammar and focus on vocab - the results will speak for themselves coz let's face it, language is about communication and most fails in that come about through lack of vocab.

that also makes sense if you think about it for a moment or two
sobieski 107 | 2,128
12 Oct 2014 #17
leave the grammar and focus on vocab

OK but this way your Polish will still be on a kindergarten level or years to come. I learned Polish through years of evening classes, took all the official exams and I am glad I did.
grspring 11 | 56
12 Oct 2014 #18
I learned Polish through years of evening classes

OK everybody calm down. I am concentrating on vocabulary to be able to communicate as quickly as possible, even if my sentence structure is incorrect (which my wife corrects me on all the time). I will be attending some Polish language classes when in Krakow but at my age I certainly won't be spending years learning.

OK but this way your Polish will still be on a kindergarten level or years to come.

One more thing. Everyone should be happy that an American is actually trying to learn another language. When I traveled in France I learned basic greeting and what I needed to find my way around. Did the same in Portugal. I'm one of those who take the time and make an effort. Give a little credit to those of us that make an attempt.
eliseusz
12 Oct 2014 #19
You must first tackle basic grammer. Such as jestem, jesteĊ› and so on. Words in polish change depending on the grammer form so learnING words will help, but only slightly. Learn an even mount of vocabulary and grammer. Learn the terms for greeting, time, anything that you can relate to your life. Study polish dialoges. This will enable to put your vocabulary into the phrases, and you will be speaking pretty good basic polish. From their you can get more advanced.

GOOD LUCK LEARNING:)
Monitor 14 | 1,820
12 Oct 2014 #20
as with any language, more important than grammar is vocabulary. But when you know quite a lot of it, that you can understand most of conversation, then grammar should become priority in order to start talking. Just my opinion.
OP learningpolish
15 Oct 2014 #21
Yeah I took a break from grammar to focus on vocabulary, I felt I had to do it to build my vocabulary. Now I've gone back to learning both vocab and grammar.
grspring 11 | 56
15 Oct 2014 #22
Yeah I took a break from grammar to focus on vocabulary

this is why I am starting with vocabulary. It is very hard to conjugate a verb, if you don't know the verb.
sobieski 107 | 2,128
15 Oct 2014 #23
It is very hard to conjugate a verb, if you don't know the verb.

But if you don't know the conjugation you end up speaking in infinitives.
grspring 11 | 56
15 Oct 2014 #24
Starting to sound like the chicken-egg argument.

I have several friends in the United States who are from Poland and are only slightly younger than myself. Though they have lived here and are now citizens they do not speak the king's English. Sometimes they make a statement that sounds more like a question, because they are in some way asking if they said it correctly. I let them know that I understood exactly what they were saying and then offer a better choice of words or sentence structure. What I read seems to be true. They are more interested in their English than in my Polish.

I understand all of the suggestions offered for learning so I'll move on to motivation so there is an understanding where I am coming from.

A few years back at the tender age of 64 we purchased an apartment in Krakow. We have visited many cities but for several reasons we chose Krakow. We wanted to travel Europe without the burden of having to return to the USA after only two or three weeks. Relocating to Poland was the best solution considering my wife's eligibility for citizenship and her being a fluent speaker.

Though language is certainly the most important item on the plate, I am also familiarizing myself with Polish history and culture from the middle ages to modern day.

I have seen advertised many Polish language courses and will get (need) help when I'm there selecting the right one for me.

Thanks
Chrostowski - | 3
15 Oct 2014 #25
I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on this subject. Having lived the majority of my life as an ex-pat I have seen three types of people when it comes to language acquisition.

The first is the survivor. They learn 100% of the language that they need to survive in the first 6 months in country and from that point advance no further. This is especially true where large ex-pat networks exist or if the individual speaks a dominate world language Spanish or English.

The second is the book-grammar student whose pronunciation, cadence, and syntax often matches their native language. They can speak more than they can understand and can read everything. These individuals usually do good in the long run, but it takes them years to get there. Once they do they often know grammar better than the average Jo.

The last is the individual who acquires the language through listening. These individuals are not special, however they seem very special because they use correct syntax, grammar and the cadence often mimics a native speaker very quickly. The speed at which they start conversing at a high level is astounding. Accent is another discussion but these individuals eventually display a closely mimicked accent, which makes them easier to understand, however they forever retain their native accent and eventually it is detectable.

It was not until years later that I understood what my Polish teacher told me when I asked her how she learned English. She said, when she came to the US she watched TV all day long and before she knew it she was speaking very well. I thought she was nuts at the time, because the only way to learn is by learning grammar and reading books. Now I know what she was talking about. If only I had realized it way back when.

That being said Polish is a language where some grammar is essential, just because there is so much. I highly recommend spending hours a day listening to Polish. There is no need to actively listen or even understand the dialog. Eventually you will pick up all of the essentials and you will copy correct, or at least implement grammatical rules without even realizing it.

If you want to read and write then stick with the old school methods as this method does not help greatly with read or writing.
stilllearning
26 Nov 2014 #26
one and a half years of learning Polish and I am beginning to understand just some to the rules of the grammar.

You may in time learn to repeat things you have heard but, please trust me, If you don't spend the time on grammar you will sound terrible forever. If you are going to take the time to learn, it must be the hard way, SORRY.

Good luck and don't give up, its an amazing language.
grspring 11 | 56
26 Nov 2014 #27
one and a half years of learning Polish and I am beginning to understand just some to the rules of the grammar.

Through a combination of tools some grammar is falling into place. I noticed that I can read and comprehend much better than only weeks ago. Having just turned 68 there are plenty of things on the "Bucket List". Communication is one and if I live long enough maybe fluency.
Szenk88HTAFC 2 | 47
26 Nov 2014 #28
The grammar is definitely something that I, as a non-native, found very hard to pick up.

Rosetta Stone is a very useful tool if you are willing to pair it up with something like a text/audiobook.

Fortunately I am surrounded by Polish in my house now as I have the Mrs conversing to me in Polish for day to day chat, I have Polish satellite TV (which is also a lot cheaper than Sky) and Rosetta Stone just tops it all off. When I have a spare moment in work I'll refer to my textbook to just keep me on my toes.

Good luck anyway, once you take a step back and see your progress after a year or so you'll be pleasantly surprised. The wife shed a small tear when I was able to help her teach our young child how to count, say basic phrases etc.
Borek Falecki - | 52
26 Nov 2014 #29
The grammar is definitely something that I, as a non-native, found very hard to pick up

Grammars are mere collections of idiosyncrasies added to the internal language of thought to produce Polish, Engish or any other language... that infants can virtualy get from the air - it must be thus a piece of cake for an adult.
JakeRyan
19 Mar 2020 #30
Merged:

Learning to speak Polish without learning grammar?



Do you think learning Polish with Duolingo (focus on words and sentences instead of grammar) would be better than the language school practice? I mean we first learn our languages like that.


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