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Do expats living in Poland speak Polish?


Myszolow 3 | 157
2 Feb 2010 #181
But typically, they want to try out their English on me/speak only English when we are together. Whoever noted that same thing/issue in their recent post is correct.

You need to mix with a different bunch of people then. Try and find some who don't even know English?

Trouble is, if you're not interested, there is no real incentive to learn Polish unless you have to. So the key is to put yourself in situations where you need it more often. It can be stressful, but it is rewarding.

Not much English is spoken na wsi. But if you're a city dweller it might be a bit of an effort to get to the countryside.
frd 7 | 1,399
2 Feb 2010 #182
If more Polish people I met would LET me practice Polish

You should start playing games with Polish people on that xbox of yours ;) A really go way to immerse yourself in the language if you have no other ways to do it.

On the other hand most of polish gamers on xbox are 13 - 18 year old kids so it could be hard to learn anything except slurs and swears ; )
jonni 16 | 2,485
2 Feb 2010 #183
You need to mix with a different bunch of people then. Try and find some who don't even know English?

I agree. That was what made the difference for me.
convex 20 | 3,978
2 Feb 2010 #184
Not much English is spoken na wsi. But if you're a city dweller it might be a bit of an effort to get to the countryside.

The single best Polish course is to take a dictionary and one of those basic grammar books and stay in a village for 2 weeks with someones family. No contact with anything but broken basic english and polish for two weeks will get you learned up real quick..
b8hoven - | 4
2 Feb 2010 #185
This thread is a great read. I have been entertained here for the last 30 minutes.
Anyway, I have been living in Poland for the past 3.5 years and I have only ever had 2 Polish lessons. I understand quite a lot and my vocabulary is pretty good, but if I have to say something...... that's another story. Terrible is all I can say. Sure I can string together words which are grammatically incorrect, and that sucks. Most people understand me, but it is frustrating when you are out in a group, and you want to say something, and by the time I think of how I can say it, the subject has passed. This basically comes down to laziness and money. If I had more money, I'd learn Polish at a school, but I can only read from a book, which is as boring as hell, and sometimes more confusing. Does anybody know of any good computer language software for learning Polish?

A bit off topic, but someones post reminded me of this. Regarding the "Visa Office" on Długa, in Warsaw. This place is a bloody bureaucratic nightmare! Copies and documents, and then my case was "lost" and then found. I finally received my "Karta Pobytu", almost 7 months after I gave them all my documents etc.

I loved that post about the dog. My dog is bilingual too! She understands Polish and English. £apa! Piątka!
Zman
16 Feb 2010 #186
I beg to differ. I know at least 3 expats who live in Warsaw who speak polish just as well as I do (and I was born and raised here). Two Brits and one Danish guy. Oh, and they all learned polish as adults, no polish parents, no prior connection to Poland whatsoever!!! I am always in awe when I talk to them :-)
convex 20 | 3,978
16 Feb 2010 #187
This basically comes down to laziness and money.

It's more laziness than money. You don't have to speak Polish, you can get by with English. You know it, your brain knows it. Go hang out in a village for a couple of months...
hague1cameron - | 85
16 Feb 2010 #188
Quick story: once my mother-in-law (who speaks no English, but certainly understands some from her years of exposure to us!) was trying to find some socks for my kids. She was using the English word "socks". I, of course, assumed she was saying "sok" and immediately went to the fridge to get some juice. :-D

I know a Polish lady here in Australia who was explaining a story at a gathering, involving a hairdresser, and she did not know the word for hair dryer or hair drying. So instead she said that he gave her a blow job:) I almost choked to death on orange juice because of my outburst of laughter
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
16 Feb 2010 #189
Zman wrote:

I know at least 3 expats who live in Warsaw who speak polish just as well as I do (and I was born and raised here).

to verify such a crazy submission, let's ask first for some facts:

how long were you "born and raised here"??? you are not at a native speaker's level for it would then be impossible for a foreigner to be at your level of Polish, so when did you leave Poland, and when did you return?

How long have the "3 expats" been living in Poland?
beelzebub - | 444
16 Feb 2010 #190
I know loads of American and Brit expats from Warsaw. Maybe 40 or 50? Of all of those ONE speaks fluent Polish. And most of them have been in the city for 5 or more years and are married to locals. You just don't need to speak Polish and that takes away the motivation. Couple that with the ridiculous grammar and structure (like everything Polish it is WAY harder than it needs to be) and we usually don't bother. I get by with shopping and normal life but I don't care to bother beyond that.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
16 Feb 2010 #191
beelzebub wrote:

Of all of those ONE speaks fluent Polish.

considering you don't speak fluent Polish, i'd question whether even that one person is actually fluent for you have no way of judging for yourself.

fluent to me is CAE. achieving a level of Polish comparable to CAE would take eons.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but i've been here long enough and have been studying this language long enough to know what an expat is up against with Polish.....i've yet to meet someone even in the same galaxy as fluent.
beelzebub - | 444
16 Feb 2010 #192
Question away....everyone he speaks to says so and that's good enough for me. Took him 5 years of serious study.

Most of the others have been there nearly 10 years and can barely manage the shopping terminology ;) We just don't care.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
16 Feb 2010 #193
it's true, most expats no matter how long they've been here, can barely string a decent sentence together, which in my opinion is pathetic.

if I may add, when saying someone is "fluent" in Polish......think of it this way: for an English teacher, how many students do you come accross who are "fluent" in English? I've taught thousands, and I can count the number of fluent speakers on one.....maybe two hands. And English is the international language......and they've been exposed to it since they were young.....and have probably been studying it for over 10 years......THAT is the chances of finding a fluent expat Polish speaker in Poland.
mafketis 24 | 8,732
16 Feb 2010 #194
One of the biggest barriers to real fluency in Polish is a basic lack of infrastructure on the Polish side.

It's easy for anyone with half-a-brain and a little determination to become functional in Polish while living here. On the other hand, just living here isn't enough for impressive fluency. And for the most part, classes offered for foreigners never get much past basic functioning.

This means the more dedicated will outgrow the courses offered for foreigners and won't be able to find classes for the really advanced leaving them to work on their own (a one way ticket for ..... not getting much done).

Or, think of this way. A Polish person with some basic classes who lives in the UK for 8 years without any academic guidance might be pretty functional, but they probably won't be able to give impressive public speeches in English and they probably won't do much reading in English either. On the other hand someone who's never left Poland but has a degree in English will be able to give a better formal speech in English and might read books in English but is still liable to have some bad usage "I don't know what should I do",

"this people" or might miss not understand some points of popular usage the one living in the UK has no problems with.

Foireigners in Poland are mostly like the former, functional but not eloquent and not looking for deep fluency.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
16 Feb 2010 #195
I know a Polish lady here in Australia who was explaining a story at a gathering, involving a hairdresser, and she did not know the word for hair dryer or hair drying. So instead she said that he gave her a blow job:) I almost choked to death on orange juice because of my outburst of laughter

I almost crashed the car recently because I saw an advert (for MediaMart, I think) with a fish saying, "Daję Glową" (maybe it was a blow-fish).

Turns out it's quite a common saying.

If you're from the EU, then when you are dealing with the Polish offices for foreigners you don't have to know Polish. Under EU regulations Poland is obliged to explain and communicate in one of the official european languages that you understand.

Hahahahahahahaha! The immigration office in Olsztyn has yet to reveal to me anyone who speaks English. Not so much of a problem for me, but some new citz fresh into the country have a problem.
PennBoy 76 | 2,437
20 Mar 2010 #196
English does have over 200,000 words and Polish something like 80,000 but even a well educated person knows maybe 20,000 an average person uses 2 or 3 thousand words. Learning English is EASY, old people have trouble but old people have a trouble to learn anything new, hence the expression "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" they simply know their way is best and wont change, or are to proud or stubborn to do so. Polish grammar is one of the 10 most difficut in the world, especially the endings (suffix) for instance the word girl in English you have girl, girls, girl's. in Polish dziewczyna, dziewczyny, dziewczynki, dziewczęta, dziewczęce, dziewczynka. It depends on the situation,time, if you're talking about one thing or more, if it's a person, thing, what you're doing with it, everything.
Wroclaw Boy
21 Mar 2010 #197
English does have over 200,000 words and Polish something like 80,000

and Polish has what 18 different ways to say the word two?
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
21 Mar 2010 #198
for an English teacher, how many students do you come accross who are "fluent" in English?

Just to make a point here - the vast majority of fluent speakers don't need to be taught English! Why would you teach a fluent person a language, unless it was ESP?
AnndY - | 20
21 Mar 2010 #199
Lets Bring the Pain!!
Ja ci dam 80000 słów!!
In my daily usage is about 150 000!! step in to medicine or technical or other sophisticated discipline n' the gouge will spoil easy with over 250k!! at daily usage only!!

I roughly may estimate my language for 0,5M!! or same as Deutsch.

?? 18 different ways to say the word two;
- dwa,
- dwać,
- dwić,
- dwoje,
- dwóch,
- dwie,
- dwója,
- dwójka,
- dwójeczka,
- dwoić,
- dwojenie,
- rozdwoić,
- rozdwajać,
- rozdwojony,
- rozdwojenie,
- połowić,
- połowienie,
- społowiony,
- społawiać,
- podwajać,
- podwoić,
- podwojenie,
- zdublować,
- zdublowany,
-....
nie-chce-mi-sie-dalej..
4 you guys its enough. 24? lets be.
and I'm not profesor Miodek :))

gush, this guy **** me all off!! n' in Sunday!!

PennB u wouldn't understood even difference between meaning of "dziewczę" and "dziewczyna" in the talk. That's why your txt I shelf it as "dziewczęcy". Therefore "dziewczynki" are the level of your only option of understanding the truth.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
21 Mar 2010 #200
Delphiandomine wrote:

Just to make a point here - the vast majority of fluent speakers don't need to be taught English! Why would you teach a fluent person a language, unless it was ESP?

it all depends on what you consider to be fluent.

worth noting, I formally teach English teachers English (Poles). I consider them fluent.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
21 Mar 2010 #201
I will also teach a Polish teacher of English CPE in due course. We can alternate between languages but she prefers English.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
21 Mar 2010 #202
I don't know what all this has to do with the topic of this thread.

But if you move to a country you should learn the language, at least so you can have basic conversations.
The Shadow 3 | 86
25 Mar 2010 #203
Hello,

I have a great difficulty with French. This is despite the fact I was raised surrounded by the French culture and studied the language as part of my school curriculum for 16 years - leading to my final exams written in French. This would be the period of pre-kindergarden to high school matriculation.

I often see these "innocent questions" on the forums. They upset me because, more often not, they are a big excuse for someone to carry over the fundamental attribution error and judge people. I am not saying that is the intention but I would like to clarify a few things. [Sorry if I am repeating arguments written before - I would be happy if they were better known - but I cannot read through the whole topic with the time I have at present. ]

If you think hearing Polish people say "You have live here [so long] so you must speak Polish fluently" is insulting, try this: "You don't speak French, you? For me it is the same thing, of course. If it is not obvious, I have a learning disability. Or I am an incredibly stupid person to be able to learn something as useful as the language of my host (French, Polish, whatever) but refuse to. Just because I have a learning disability does not mean I am stupid.

Next thing is that English is the predominent language in the world. If you know the history of the language, you would be correct to think of it as successful Esperanto type. More people speak Chinese, obviously, but that really is not as useful as the statistic makes it seem outside of China or Chinatown. Some who make criticism a blood sport try to "catch me" with the logic that I should unable to speak English if I have cannot speak French.

French would be a much better comparison language to English than Polish, especially in my case. In my case, because I am foreign to the Polish language and its culture and have not studied it as a pass/fail requirement of my schooling.

French is also used within the structure of English, as are vocabulary elements of many other languages since it is the language of an Empire not merely a nation.

I am also subject to ghettoization (a word itself stolen from Italian) from the locals who wish me to speak English. While in my case this is a blessing, it can also be a root cause for non-Poles not speaking the Polish language. And since English is the predominent language of the world, I certainly understand the reason why Poles wish to speak it.

I am very grateful to speak it as well as I do (i.e. my family and friends spoke it well).

These are a few objective reasons why anyone may not speak a foreign language. IMHO, they should be considered by everyone who asks these "innocent questions."

Delphiandomine wrote:

Just to make a point here - the vast majority of fluent speakers don't need to be taught English! Why would you teach a fluent person a language, unless it was ESP?

LIVING CONTACT with the language is important to keep the language.

I have lived in Poland an extended period of time and, though a native English speaker, my English has suffered tremendously. I used to be proud of my level of English being greater than other natives - actually recorded through testing as an adult. Presently I practice my English using role playing games with other expats so as not to lose my English facility.

I am a native English speaker.
OP Nika 2 | 507
25 Mar 2010 #204
I often see these "innocent questions" on the forums.

My question isn't "innocent", but innocent. I was wondering if foreigneirs living in PL speak Polish, and if yes, how they learn(ed) it - that's it. I asked the question out of curiosity, and had no intentions of judging anybody. If I mentioned my ability to speak French, and the 5 years spent in Belgium, it was just to introduce myself, and not to say "if I could learn French, then you can learn Polish".

French is also used within the structure of English, as are vocabulary elements of many other languages since it is the language of an Empire not merely a nation.

It's perfectly fine by me that ppl would rather learn French/English than Polish. I understand that some don't want/need to learn Polish while in Poland, or that they find it difficult to learn, so they don't. Therefore, I really do appreciate foreigners making an effort to learn Polish. But, I wouldn't appreciate someone telling me they don't care to speak Polish because it's the language of merely a nation, and theirs is the language of an Empire - it's disrespectful.

In my case, because I am foreign to the Polish language and its culture and have not studied it as a pass/fail requirement of my schooling.

In my case, I was foreign to the French language and its culture as well. It didn't stop me from learning it though. I wanted to be able to communicate with ppl, to get to know their culture, thinking, life style. I wanted to have a normal life: go to a bank, a shop, book a table in a restaurant, make an appointment with a hair-dresser. All that wouldn't have been possible, if I didn't speak the local language.
The Shadow 3 | 86
26 Mar 2010 #205
Nika,

I have not read your comment on your speaking French during your 5-year Belgium sojourn prior to my making my own comment on the question. I did not read every comment in this topic but I was only responding to the question. I had no idea that you knew French, for example, and I was therefore certainly not attacking you personally.

Innocent is a relative judgmental term dependent upon context and individual perception. My answer was innocent and given from my point of view to broaden understanding why not everyone learns a second language.

I was raised in the French culture of Canada; a country and its people known for its great tolerance of other people's cultural and linguistic rights. French to me would be what Polish is to a Pole: possibly not a mother tongue but certainly the mother tongue for the majority within the culture. It is a false comparison to compare my encounter with the French language to any other situation but total societal immersion from childhood to adulthood.

I have a great difficulty with French..

vs.

If I mentioned my ability to speak French, and the 5 years spent in Belgium, it was just to introduce myself, and not to say "if I could learn French, then you can learn Polish".

leading to what is termed
Trevek 26 | 1,702
26 Mar 2010 #206
Go hang out in a village for a couple of months...

In my area that could improve your German. Old folks often talk german to foreigners...
PennBoy 76 | 2,437
27 Mar 2010 #207
PennB u wouldn't understood even difference between meaning of "dziewczę" and "dziewczyna"

Ohh yes thank you for enlightening me, i know the difference between dziewcze and dziewczyna so you can assume all that you want, you gave an example of one word that just so happens to have that many variations, some words have a few some alot of variations depending on the word, you're not telling me anything new, Polish does not have that many words English is a much more developed language.
PennBoy 76 | 2,437
27 Mar 2010 #209
AnndY: In my daily usage is about 150 000!!

Why don't you concentrate on your IQ level, and stick to the book "Poczytaj Mi Mamo"
Seanus 15 | 19,706
27 Mar 2010 #210
Right on, PennBoy. English is a much more evolving language, period!! We both speak Polish so we are in a position to compare and make that call.

'Read to me, Mummy', ROTFL, nice one!!


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