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Do Poles have a problem understanding American English?


Paulina 12 | 2,230
16 Jan 2014 #31
It wouldn't hurt if you'd listen to other people, for a change, Wlodzimierz :)

Getting on one's nerves often serves the cause of enlightenment.

No, it doesn't. It puts people off. Especially when soemone is as obsessive as you are and can't acknowledge his flaws or mistakes.

But I see it isn't getting anywhere, so I guess we should end this exchange or we'll get on mods' nerves :)
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
16 Jan 2014 #32
I certainly do acknowledge my own mistakes. What ever gave you that idea?
Paulina 12 | 2,230
16 Jan 2014 #33
Your conviction how great your Polish is, for example ;) You were giving all kinds of wrong advice and explanations on this forum to people studying Polish and I had to correct you (other people were doing that too).

You do like to lecture, Wlodzimierz, but I think you should learn more first :P
(That's a friendly advice, btw, I think it's cool that you're studying or were studying Polish :))
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
16 Jan 2014 #34
My advice was in fact no more mistaken than half of most foreigners who learned English in their countries and teach it at university! I'm simply more honest about my abilities, that's all. In the classroom, I at least don't teach by intimidation as do many of my foreign colleagues whose frequent response to their students' questions about English culture is "Not important!" or "Go look it up!" etc..

Looks like the shoe's on the other foot now, eh Paulina?
Paulina 12 | 2,230
16 Jan 2014 #35
My advice was in fact no more mistaken than half of most foreigners who learned English in their countries and teach it at university!

Wlodzimierz, you make basic mistakes in spelling and grammar in Polish.
I don't know about other countries, but in Poland people who make such mistakes in English don't teach English at universities (from my own experience).

I'm simply more honest about my abilities, that's all.

No, you're not.
People studying Polish were coming to this forum and asking "How should this be written?", etc. and you were giving them wrong answers without even warning them that you aren't a native speaker and that those answers you're giving them may be incorrect! I don't even know how someone can be so irresponsible and arrogant!

Looks like the shoe's on the other foot now, eh Paulina?

What are you talking about, Wlodzimierz? Your behaviour on this forum is some kind of revenge?
jon357 69 | 18,362
16 Jan 2014 #36
I don't know about other countries, but in Poland people who make such mistakes in English don't teach English at universities (from my own experience).

Dont forget that ability with the finer points of a language isn't the same as the ability to teach. For two reasons. Firstly, a teacher's own ingrained mistakes aren't necessarily passed on to their students (a fact that in interesting to linguists right now); and secondly, if we're given a choice between a teacher who is perfect in the language but can't teach for toffee or a teacher who is far from perfect in the language but is an excellent teacher, most of us would choose the latter.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,534
16 Jan 2014 #37
Many foreigners, Poles among them, often labor under the delusion (though understandably so) that listening to contemporary American movies in particular will somehow "improve" their English skills. The root of this fallacy is that by listening to people chattering away in a language necessarily builds comprehensive fluency, adequate for more than merely touristic discourse.

Wlodzimierz, I don't understand what's your problem.

I second Wlodzimierz In this discourse. Indeed, many foreigners, Poles among them, are so convinced about their language skills that they don't even try to develop any critical approach. One example that has come to my mind right now is a certain Polish poster on the PF (who once boasted of his English skills and said he worked in an international environment where he used it on a daily basis) whom I politely reminded of the necessity to use definite and indefinite articles in this language, but he said he did not bother about them at all as he was perfectly understood in his office, and he continued not to use articles in English as he wrote on the forum.

I don't believe in acquiring language skills only through watching and listening to films (or listening to real people for that matter) only. Building up one's competences in the language is too much of an interactive process to rely on one or two "sources" as watching films or reading literature. A combination of these two, for example, will certainly elicit better results than doing only one of them, but it shall still leave someone's oral skills prone to many mistakes that the person concerned would have never thought of having been capable of making.
bluesfan - | 85
16 Jan 2014 #38
Wlodzimierz, you make basic mistakes in spelling and grammar in Polish.

Wlodzimierz, I'm saying that you could do well with some self-criticism and a change of attitude yourself. Otherwise you'll just get on people's nerves

Sorry dude but Paulina is right.
You do make plenty of basic mistakes in Polish grammar, I know because I make them too ;)
Before you start criticising Poles' approach and ability to speak English properly you should remember how few non-Poles can speak Polish correctly (that includes you).

I'd agree with the opinion that most Poles are very modest and even critical about their own ability to speak and understand English.
I really don't know what type of Poles you're meeting on a daily basis, but from my own experience in the UK and in Poland I'd say that your experiences aren't very representative of Polish people at all.

I'm not sure why you cannot accept this. Are you just here to troll and belittle others?
Ziemowit 13 | 4,534
16 Jan 2014 #39
Before you start criticising Poles' approach and ability to speak English properly you should remember how few non-Poles can speak Polish correctly (that includes you).

One is entitled to criticize one's approach and ability to speak English even if they don't know that one's native language properly.

Likewise, a viewer is entitled to criticize a film or a theatre performance even if he is not an actor, a film director or a playwright.
TheOther 6 | 3,692
16 Jan 2014 #40
One is entitled to criticize one's approach and ability to speak English even if they don't know that one's native language properly.

Of course, but the question is how you do that. You can do it in a nice way, or you look down on the locals and let them know how lousy their English skills are. If you go for the second option, don't be surprised if you'll get the proper response. Besides: make sure that your own English (or other language) is really as good as you think it is... :)
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
16 Jan 2014 #41
My point is that, at fault at times as my Polish is, is it really any better or worse than the average European-born sinecure professor of English, who makes mistakes no end, yet is rarely called on these errors owing to a double standard? Poland and other countries are loathe to hire educated native-English speakers at all but perhaps the college level because it's simply too expensive.

I call this cutting corners in the wrong places:-)
Jimmu 2 | 157
17 Jan 2014 #42
Back to the original thread:
I think you'll find most Poles are taught British (RP/BBC) English in school and learn American (Hollywood/TV News) English from films and TV. So for academic purposes RP is better received, and for conversation go American.
Wulkan - | 3,243
17 Jan 2014 #43
Do Poles have a problem understanding American English?

No, most Poles including myself, grew up being introduced to the American movies which made the sound of American English more familiar than any other.

American Shameless

British Shameless

youtube.com/embed/lmBpuBVlPVo

I have no doubts which one I can understand better :-)
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Jan 2014 #44
Poland and other countries are loathe to hire educated native-English speakers at all

Do you really mean to tell me that all foreign-language teachers working in the USA are foreigners / native speakers of the languages they teach? At all levels of education? BTW, I am a trained English teacher and I do not think my English is at all faulty. I am not a native speaker of course, as I can't be reborn.
Rysavy 10 | 308
17 Jan 2014 #45
I don't think so if they understand English at all. Thicker accents of extreme SE/NE might stump them, but they stump native English speakers ^_^

Honey felt so awkward when he thought he was speaking clear english and could not order from McDonalds. I had to translate from English to Southernese Podunk dialect. Poor man just wanted French fries and a Coke. But I pointed out he was fine in MI.

Rown har, in rulftun (Rutherfordton) you pool up a char and flip yor har back n gava purtay smi'

^_^ (I won't miss it when I return to AZ)
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
17 Jan 2014 #46
Magda,

Sooooo, so many so-called "English instructors" have such thick foreign accents and faulty grammar, it's not even funny! Shows ya the price of cheap labor from the Black Market, eh?

:-)
jon357 69 | 18,362
17 Jan 2014 #47
That doesn't necessarily mean the sts pick up their accent or their errors. Krashen and Chomsky have spent plenty of time trying to figure out why it's like that.

Unfortunately both are determined that the reason they find fits in to their wider hypothesise and only one of course will be right.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Jan 2014 #48
Sooooo, so many so-called "English instructors" have such thick foreign accents and faulty grammar, it's not even funny!

I asked you a question, and I'm hoping for an answer... ;-p
PlasticPole 7 | 2,649
17 Jan 2014 #49
Not only the Poles have a problem. the English also have one understanding American English.
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
17 Jan 2014 #50
Your question was asked and answered, Magda!

Foreign language teachers across the board must ideally be native born (as it should be), ESL teachers don't. Whoever can finagle the best deal.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Jan 2014 #51
Foreign language teachers across the board must ideally be native born

But are they? That's my question. Are all - or most - foreign language teachers in American schools and universities native speakers? Because I doubt it. Also, explain to me if you will the logistics of employing native speakers as English teachers in Polish schools. You would need how many? I'm guessing at least several thousand; how do you convince so many native speakers of English - who are also trained ESL teachers, mind you - to relocate to Poland and teach in kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools? In villages and small towns? For low pay and few perks? In a country whose language they do not understand? Oh, my. Good luck with that ;-)
TheOther 6 | 3,692
18 Jan 2014 #52
Foreign language teachers across the board must ideally be native born (as it should be)

how do you convince so many native speakers of English - who are also trained ESL teachers, mind you - to relocate to Poland and teach in kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools? In villages and small towns? For low pay and few perks? In a country whose language they do not understand?

There it is again: the difference between theory and reality... ;)
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
18 Jan 2014 #53
Magda, the more-or-less "standard" rule has been that at top flight colleges/universities, language institutes and so on, ALL foreign language instructional staff are supposed to be native or at the very LEAST, native bilingual speakers of the foreign language which they are teaching. I speak Swedish fluently, for instance. Yet no self-respecting school or educational institution would ever consider hiring me no matter how desperate they were, as ethically, I'm not anywhere near a native or even bilingual speaker of Swedish! This is as it should be (..and still is, by and large). I wouldn't, nor have I ever, deluded myself into thinking things should be any different. I have taught German at the college level, only because I grew up (as you did, I'm assuming), basically native to both tongues, in my case German/English. This therefore can be justified from an advertising standpoint. Case closed:-)

Concerning English as A Second Language programs throughout the country, far too often, Eastern Europeans especially, notably Poles, Russians, Hungarians and Serbo-Croatians, often slip past review boards and are allowed to teach English to foreigners, even when their English is accented and scarcely perfect.

So once again, why the double standard? English merrily butchered by practically anyone off the street, while e.g. French, must be taught and spoken by somebody with certificates from the Sorbonne and a clear Parisian pronunciation!!!

Isn't there something terribly wrong with this picture, people??

I dare to add at this juncture that when visiting Sweden umpteen years ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with a youngish English instructor from a local "gymnasium", i.e. "lyceum" in or around Goteborg. We just happened to be seated at the same table in the hotel restaurant where I was staying in town and, hearing my accent, asked me why I had learned Swedish. We got to talking and he was pleasant enough, although his English often had numerous errors which of course I was too polite to correct.

Having listened to him for a bit, I wondered to myself just how many generations of pupils were learning "svengelska" (Swedlish) without ever even realizing it:-)
Wulkan - | 3,243
18 Jan 2014 #54
We got to talking and he was pleasant enough, although his English often had numerous errors which of course I was too polite to correct.

I bet his mistakes were as terrible as your "I too like it" instead of "I like it too"
Paulina 12 | 2,230
19 Jan 2014 #55
I second Wlodzimierz In this discourse. Indeed, many foreigners, Poles among them, are so convinced about their language skills that they don't even try to develop any critical approach.

Of course some people are like that, in every nation.
But I agree with bluesfan that most Poles don't boast about their "great English" at all. Even on this forum there were foreigners writing how irritating it was when Polish girls constantly apologised for their bad English.

One is entitled to criticize one's approach and ability to speak English even if they don't know that one's native language properly.

Again, of course, but criticizing is one thing, and obsessing is a completely different matter and that's what Wlodzimierz is doing - he's obsessing (he's writing about it in every language thread - I'm not joking).

Also, what gets on my nerves is that he accuses others of what he's doing himself.
And what I found simply appalling is the fact that Wlodzimierz was giving wrong answers to people asking Polish language questions on this forum!
My English is much better than his Polish and yet I wouldn't dare to answer English language questions. Wlodzmierz didn't even bother to check the spelling in some online dictionary - that's just mind-blowing for me.

To put it short - he posed as an expert, who knows what he's doing, while he wasn't an expert at all and was "merrily butchering" the Polish language, as he puts it. He isn't even a teacher of Polish.

I don't believe in acquiring language skills only through watching and listening to films.

Well, that's great, Ziemowit, that's called "life". Not everybody can be born an English native speaker, we know that... o_O

Of course, but the question is how you do that. You can do it in a nice way, or you look down on the locals and let them know how lousy their English skills are. If you go for the second option, don't be surprised if you'll get the proper response.

+1

My point is that, at fault at times as my Polish is, is it really any better or worse than the average European-born sinecure professor of English, who makes mistakes no end,

Wlodzimierz, at what age have you started studying Polish on regular basis?

yet is rarely called on these errors owing to a double standard?

What on Earth are you talking about? What "double standard"?

Poland and other countries are loathe to hire educated native-English speakers at all but perhaps the college level because it's simply too expensive.

I call this cutting corners in the wrong places:-)

Then give us money, genius, and we'll be hiring native speakers with great teaching skills right and left at every freaking university and village school :)

What on Earth are you talking about?
You think that French is taught at Polish schools by French native speakers educated at Sorbone? lol

Also, explain to me if you will the logistics of employing native speakers as English teachers in Polish schools.

Indeed lol
Spot on, Magda.

There it is again: the difference between theory and reality... ;)

+1
local_fela 17 | 172
19 Jan 2014 #56
from friends and people I've met around (all polish)- no one likes American English - and their American accent! they all prefer British English... both accent, way of writing, and Oxford dictionary! ;) same as the rest of the world...

Even they find both difficult- 'American English and 'British English'! As Poland is more influenced by US, so they don't have much opportunities to learn the real English! otherwise, no one in Poland would even bother to listen to what they nowadays call - 'american english'
Wlodzimierz 4 | 544
19 Jan 2014 #57
Paulina et al, my prior point was that here in the States, typically if someone is hired as a French instructor at any prestigious language school, they must speak basically a perfect, native French. As far as the teaching of English is concerned, no such standard applies any longer. Many whom I've met who "teach" English have noticable foreign accents and are often blithelly unfamiliar with Anglo- American culture, banter, word play and essentiallly communicate on a most primitive level, masquerading as "international communication".

As far as this overused word "obsessing", it's hardly obsessive to kindly ask that if a Pole, German, Swede etc.. tacitly insists that they already know enough English so that an American, say, needn't spend time studying Polish, German or Swedish, is it too much to ask that the English of the foreign interlocutor be at least aesthetic and modest? Need younger Europeans pretend that their ignorance of higher-level English is adequate enough, more important even than a foreigner taking the time to read Mickiewicz, Goethe or Strindberg in the original? It was a nice experience many years back when I met an Austrian accountant who not only knew how to "communicate" in more or less unaccented American English, but could even quote some of the Mickado, chapter and verse!!!

I damned near started to mist up a little, realizing that there are some out there who've really taken the time to learn English as it should be learned. Only thirty-five years old and his English had ZERO slang fillers or vulgarity. Luckily, I maintained contact with this fellow and his wife, who tried to speak as well as he did. This was the first time I'd ever met a foreign native speaker who spoke their language about as well as I did. I dare say, his English was practically on a native-speaker level.

So there's hope yet:-)

PS
In the late 1980's when I was going out for a teaching post (for which I was eventually hired), I was sitting in the waiting area of the office. At one point, a middle-aged woman appeared with a slight Spanish accent, yet excellent English. I asked whether she was one of the English instructors, to which she almost bashfully replied that as good as her English might have been, she certainly could never teach English, as it "wouldn't be fair with my accent". Times certainly have changed!
Paulina 12 | 2,230
20 Jan 2014 #58
Paulina et al, my prior point was that here in the States, typically if someone is hired as a French instructor at any prestigious language school, they must speak basically a perfect, native French. As far as the teaching of English is concerned, no such standard applies any longer.

That's what you say, I don't really know if that's really the case.
Which universities are you comparing exactly?
Or are you writing only about language schools?

Btw, if it's true I can imagine it's due to the fact that English is a lingua franca of our times. It is taught everywhere to really great numbers of people and so really great numbers of teachers are needed and so the level is lower. I think it's natural and has nothing to do with double standards. If the French language was the language of global communication nowadays I can imagine it would be butchered in the same way all over the world :)

Many whom I've met who "teach" English have noticable foreign accents and are often blithelly unfamiliar with Anglo- American culture, banter, word play and essentiallly communicate on a most primitive level, masquerading as "international communication.

Whom are you talking about?
University professors or language school instructors?
Or people in the street?

Even my Polish teachers at highschool had very good pronunciation. I had only one dreadful "teacher" at the very beginning of highschool. We called her "Mrs. Sheep" lol The school didn't have English teachers, I think, at that time, so our librarian did a quick English teaching course and became our English teacher. She would pronounce word comfortable as "komfortejbyl" ;O Even at that time I knew it was very very wrong xD The funny thing was that I was getting worse marks for pronouncing words in the right way ;D That was terrible... But later on, we got real teachers, she went back to the library and such a level for a teacher would be simply unacceptable nowadays in a public school, I can imagine.

As for Anglo-American culture it's even in the language course books so it's obligatory to teach at least the basics (at least at state schools in Poland). And it's the same with teaching other foreign languages at state schools in Poland. And, again, Anglo-American cultures are rather well known in the world.

As for "communicating on a most primitive level"... Your own style in English is so unnecessarily elaborate (or maybe even pretentious) that I I'm not really sure if you're being objective about the level of communicating of your interlocutors. I wouldn't be surprised if you exaggerated, to be honest.

As far as this overused word "obsessing", it's hardly obsessive to kindly ask that if a Pole, German, Swede etc.. tacitly insists that they already know enough English so that an American, say, needn't spend time studying Polish, German or Swedish

I really doubt that anyone ever told you that you don't need to spend time studying Polish or any other language. Most Poles appreciate the fact that a foreigner makes the effort to study their language.

However, if your Polish isn't good enough to communicate easily then they may switch to Polish to make the communication easier in their mind for both you and them. They may even think that they're doing you a favour. Or they just want to practice their English.

If you want to practice your Polish with them then simply tell them about it.

And no, the word "obsessing" isn't overused in your case at all, since you complain about foreigners not wanting to talk to you in their native languages in every freaking language thread on this forum.

is it too much to ask that the English of the foreign interlocutor be at least aesthetic and modest?

What do you mean by "aesthetic and modest"?

Need younger Europeans pretend that their ignorance of higher-level English is adequate enough, more important even than a foreigner taking the time to read Mickiewicz, Goethe or Strindberg in the original?

I'm sorry, Wlodzimierz, but I don't understand this sentence.

It was a nice experience many years back when I met an Austrian accountant who not only knew how to "communicate" in more or less unaccented American English, but could even quote some of the Mickado, chapter and verse!!!

It's natural that people have accents when speaking a foreign language. Not everyone has "a good ear" for langauges. Some students, taught by the same teacher, may speak with heavy accents while others from the same class can have a very good pronunciation and only just a light accent or in rare cases none at all. Not all people are skilled in the same way. I was one of two people in my class, I think, who could get the French "r" more or less correct. My first efforts at getting it right caused giggling from my classmates, but later on they were praising my French pronunciation ;) So it's not so easy, you know.

Also, I don't understand why would you expect from foreigners any knowledge about English opera? o_O The fact that you're interested in opera doesn't mean that all people are. English is a lingua franca, people study it for the sake of communication and they aren't obliged to know about some rather not well known elements of British culture. When you're studying English, you're studying it to communicate with people from many parts of the world, not necessarily with the British or Americans (or Canadians, Australians, etc.).

So there's hope yet:-)

Hope for what?
Not everyone is obliged or has the need to speak English or any other foreign language on a native-speaker level.
It depends on the circumstances.
Also, not everyone has good enough language skills or opportunities to be able to do that in the first place.

I had a British teacher at a language school here in Poland who purposefully used with us some kind of non-accented English (without the British accent). I also had a Scottish teacher once and he was trying to do the same, although we did have some problems with understanding him and getting used to his a bit different pronunciation.

Yes, Wlodzimierz, times have changed. English is used by people all over the world and perhaps the accent with which someone is speaking doesn't matter that much nowadays.

However, if your Polish isn't good enough to communicate easily then they may switch to Polish

*switch to English
Ziemowit 13 | 4,534
20 Jan 2014 #59
Even on this forum there were foreigners writing how irritating it was when Polish girls constantly apologised for their bad English.

This has commonly been referred to as a "Polish inferiority complex" by the British expats who visit this forum as well as the British-born children of the post-war Polish émigrés to the UK.

Well, that's great, Ziemowit, that's called "life". Not everybody can be born an English native speaker, we know that... o_O

Yet these above sentences of yours seem to disclose what may well be called a "superiority complex". Will you please stop patronising other people in this rather annoying way!

My first efforts at getting it right caused giggling from my classmates, but later on they were praising my French pronunciation ;)

Yes, yes, there's a good girl! We all know by now how talented person in languages and pronounciation you are. You are writing about it in almost every language thread.

criticizing is one thing, and obsessing is a completely different matter and that's what Wlodzimierz is doing - he's obsessing (he's writing about it in every language thread - I'm not joking)

Yes, "obsessing" is a word that you can safely re-address to yourself. And I am not joking here at all !
TheOther 6 | 3,692
20 Jan 2014 #60
if someone is hired as a French instructor at any prestigious language school, they must speak basically a perfect, native French.

So do these French instructors look down on the locals and their lousy French skills?

Your own style in English is so unnecessarily elaborate

Well observed.


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