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How to convince English boyfriend to learn Polish?


Agata2010 1 | 1
8 Mar 2010 #1
I have been in a relationship with an English man for over 2 years and he not only does not say a word in Polish but openly declares that he would not like to learn even basic words like 'thank you' or 'good morning'. I have never put any pressure on him to do that but I hear from other people who are in relationship with a foreigner that they partners make a lot of efforts to learn their language, at least the polite words. I know Polish is a very difficult language but could his lack of any willingness to learn be a sign that he does not think about our relationship seriously. I know that in the past he was dating Spanish girl and learnt Spanish so I cannot understand why he could not learn just few basic words in Polish.

His lack of any interest in Polish language and culture is quite embarrassing when it comes to meeting my family so I see them quite rarely and on my own. On the other hand, he expects me to visit his family very frequently so I feel it is a bit unfair.

What could be a reason of him avoiding all aspects of my life which relate to my home country? Is Poland really uninteresting for English people and if so why do they despite that decide to have Polish partners?

I would appreciate your advice / comments.
Softsong 5 | 495
8 Mar 2010 #2
It is hard to "convince" anyone of anything. Usually people resist us when they feel someone is attempting to convince them of something. that being said, there are ways to let him know how you feel, and what you want. I'd suggest you write to him exactly what you wrote here. But, rather than convince or attack him personally, share how his reluctance to learn Polish makes you feel.

Phrase things you have written in what is called "feeling messages". How it makes you feel. Something like, "When I see other men with Polish ladies say simple things like thank you and good morning in Polish, I feel sad that my boyfriend tells me he does not want to know how to say anything in Polish. I also feel worried that this means we have no future."

I feel happy when I visit your family and show them that I enjoy being part of your life. What I want is for my boyfriend to be able to say a few things in Polish so that my parents can see he is interested in who I am. That way, I would feel more enjoyment of my visits with them and would include you more often in my visits.
Olly 1 | 13
8 Mar 2010 #3
It is strange for me to think that he will not even learn to say, please and thankyou etc. For me this is something I would do when visiting any country, just to be polite.

I met my girlfriend whilst on holiday on the black sea coast of Romania, and when I first visited her in Poland I made sure I could at least say hello, and thankyou, especially as I knew her parents did not speak any English. They were pleasantly suprised at the few words I knew, and I suprised her friends with a na zdrowie, when we met at a bar as well.

Since this visit I have started having lessons in the UK, and of course it is very hard, but every small amount learnt, to me opens up doors in the relationship and an understanding, of what I am finding a great culture and people to spend time with.

Perhaps your boyfriend, is worried that he will find the language too hard, but I agree with Softsong's thoughts, and in my opinion when you make the effort, but sometimes pronounce the Polish words wrong and friends and family laugh, it is the best way of breaking the ice and having fun.
convex 20 | 3,978
8 Mar 2010 #4
Regarding the basics, your boyfriend sounds like either an ******* or an idiot, maybe both.

Regarding the language and the culture, some people just aren't interested. He probably doesn't see any value in learning the language, and doesn't care about the culture. That's fair enough.
Wulkan - | 3,251
8 Mar 2010 #5
I have been in a relationship with an English man for over 2 years and he not only does not say a word in Polish

whats the point of him learning Polish if you live in UK. I have an English girlfriend and she can speak maybe five words in Polish cause she simple does not need this

I know that in the past he was dating Spanish girl and learnt Spanish

Spanish is commonly spoken in so many parts of the world so it can be useful for him but why would he need Polish? to chat up polish girls easier after he dumps you?
Robert A 1 | 102
8 Mar 2010 #6
I'd have to say that I had a real job of trying to get my ex Polish girlfriend to teach me her language and culture.

Conversely, she has been here nearly four and half years and is making steady progress with English but really doesn't have any inclination to learn anything about English culture.

Whilst I can sound off a few phrases, I really can't hold a conversation even at simpleton level.

My exposure to the Polish language is severely limited and thus it has compounded my
ability to make steady progress.

pronounce the Polish words wrong and friends and family laugh, it is the best way of breaking the ice and having fun

I agree entirely :)
Wulkan - | 3,251
8 Mar 2010 #7
pronounce the Polish words wrong and friends and family laugh, it is the best way of breaking the ice and having fun

yeah! and you dont even need to put any effort into that, just say the way you think it should sound.
OP Agata2010 1 | 1
8 Mar 2010 #8
Thank you for sharing your opinions. Sometimes it is better to learn other people's view, especially when they are rational and I appreciate it a lot. I will try Softsong's approach and will see how it works.

I understand that culture may be sometimes more difficult to learn or less appealing if we do not have interest in the country but I thought, as it appears erroneously, that it would be natural to be curious of the background of the person with whom we share life.

Olly, your girlfriend must really appreciate your interest in language and culture and I also have a lot of respect for people who try to learn Polish regardless of any reasons why they do it.
Olly 1 | 13
8 Mar 2010 #9
Good luck with everything Agata. I hope he becomes more curious, as it has opened my eyes, and now as well as my weekly Polish lesson, I get some of my food from the Polski Sklep too. Gotta have my fix of Pierogi and Barszcz, even if it is not fresh. Thanks, and yes I hope she does :)
MattT - | 4
8 Mar 2010 #10
I agree with some of the other previous replies; to not at least learn the basics of a language from a country you have a connection with is rude and ignorant. I would personally feel this if I was on a holiday in a country and couldn't at least say the basics of hello/goodbye, please/thank you, yes/no, beer!

I'd be intrigued to understand more about how his overall approach to the relationship i.e do you feel an equal in most circumstances and that he treats you fairly? To have that attitude would imply a lack of empathy with you, and a generally selfish personality..

If this is out of character from him, then its could be that he really struggles with the language - men don't like to admit they're not good at stuff and can often pretend indifference to cover this. Luckily I'm good at everything so I personally don't have this issue :-)

If this is in character for him, then it raises deeper questions about whether this is the sort of person you want to be with.

Keep pushing - softly!
Steveramsfan 2 | 306
8 Mar 2010 #11
I still cant speak Polish or understand people speaking it but I can read and write it a little.

I've been trying and it upsets me that I can't do it, I really want to live in Poland so I must learn soon.

If he can't be bothered to learn a few simple words you should ask him why he can't be bothered.

My girlfriend speaks very good English but I want to speak very good Polish still. I don't NEED to learn, I WANT to for my girlfriend and her family.
Olly 1 | 13
8 Mar 2010 #12
I don't NEED to learn, I WANT to for my girlfriend and her family.

Yes exactly!
Crow 137 | 7,977
8 Mar 2010 #13
How to convince English boyfriend to learn Polish?

tell him that Serbian Ratko Mladic don`t like England since England side by side with Islamic league moved against Serbs

Tell him to forget about England
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #14
When i took my idiot ex fiance to Poland to meet my family he was just as useless. He was interested in the history and the sights but i was basically expected to translate everything that's been told, even if it was not to him. He'd get paranoid people were laughing at him and would not leave my side, or even strike up a conversation with my sisters who speak English well enough to have a decent conversation. Nothing. It's like he was doing us a favour just being there. I bought him phrasebooks a few months before the trip and they were just collecting dust all that time. If i knew he will make my time there so miserable and frustrating i'd never have taken him. My family were lovely to him and tried to get him talking but he didn't wish to make an effort. He'd just sit there in a huff like an upset princess. Funny how when i went to Scotland with him he'd just bugger off and leave me with his relatives i have only just met for hours at a time, he even asked if he could sit at a table with his brother instead of next to me at his dad's wedding. He actually did when i went to the loo! All that because i could speak English so that's ok, i can fend for myself. I hate this sort of selfish, careless attitude, it's almost like he's more important because he's British and you're from some silly little Eastern European country so your needs are second best. If they don't make an effort and actually state that they are not interested to do so then to me that's alarming. If somebody's not prepared to accept me and my culture and can't be bothered to get on with my family then they can get lost. I don't expect them to learn fluent Polish or call my mother every day but if they are blatantly ignorant and throw a tantrum everytime they have to face anything to do with my heritage whilst i am expected to do all that for them without question then that is not an equal relationship. And please let me add that i am not that close with my family and never have been, but just the fact that somone can be so disrespectful to them without batting an eyelid makes my blood boil.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #15
it's almost like he's more important because he's British and you're from some silly little Eastern European country so your needs are second best.

Wow what an expression of the victim mentality. You people perpetuate this idea and it is from your minds not ours. He probably felt self conscious since he didn't speak Polish and you spoke really good English. It is easier to fall back on the most common option. It is uncomfortable to not understand.

This "almost as if he is better because he is from the West" nonsense is a figment of your imagination. It is about human nature and communication abilities not where you are from.

When one person already speaks the other's language fluently it becomes the default communication mode. You can't express yourself when you don't know how to speak that well so it's natural to do this. Polish is a tough language and unless there is a real need to it is not likely someone is going to invest in it. I know lots of expats that have lived there for a long time and still speak very little because everyone around them speaks English. It's life.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #16
"You People" as in who, the immigrants? If i could make an effort to learn your language fluently then why can't you? Cos you don't have to? When we go to my country then what am i, a girlfriend or a private translator and life coach? I'm not acting like a victim and i understand Polish is a very difficult language to learn but to just snub it like that without even trying is utterly disrespectful, especially if you claim to love the other person.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #17
No you people as in Poles. You have complexes about how people see you and your statement is a perfect example of it. You made this assumption he thought you were a "silly little easterner"

My ex and those around me always spoke English....made it really hard to gain any proficiency. People will always default to the simplest common option. It takes YEARS to learn Polish fluently. You can't expect someone who visits occasionally to do it. When else would he use it? It's not disrespectful its practical. People have to have a practical motivation to really learn a new language..."Love" isn't going to cut it. Communication needs will always come first and people will do so following the path of least resistance...if you hadn't learned English as a kid and you moved to a place where a lot of people spoke Polish the odds of you learning English would be slim. I see it here in the US all the time....immigrants who don't speak English because they live in communities of their own people and never have to learn it.
Amanda91 1 | 135
9 Mar 2010 #18
If i could make an effort to learn your language fluently then why can't you?

Don't get me wrong but Polish is not exactly a world language. Obviously it's good to learn any language you can if you have a chance but it's a personal matter. I agree with you when it comes to someone who lives in Poland. It's definately smart to learn the language of a country you live in.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #19
Well i hardly understood native Scottish people but i didn't sit there in a huff and expected that twit to help me out. I was sorta enjoying the experience. There is a massive difference between feeling lost in a foreign country and being ignorant and treating it like the worst thing that's ever happened to you. You completely miss my arguement is that deliberate or are you just too hung up on your ex and dwelling on Polish people and their supposed inferiority complex. We make an effort so why shouldn't you. It's people like you with your inflated egos and an answer to everything that make others feel they don't belong.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #20
Yeah right...the "supposed inferiority complex". YOU exhibited it.

You are projecting. Accusing me of making comments because of my relationship experience but it's obvious to all in your last posts that is exactly what YOU are doing. You are angry and called him a twit even.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #21
I don't have a problem with people not wanting to learn Polish, where did i say that i expect that sort of thing? It's the attitude i don't like, this whole 'ooh it's not practical blah blah blah why should i even learn how to say hello to the parents i'll just sit there and sulk all days cos i don't understand anything'. Is it so hard to make a small effort, those little things go a long way in a relationship. Could at least freakin pretend or something i dunno, if it's only a visit. That's all i'm saying and the thread's author sounds a bit like my ex that's why i chimed in.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #22
How can you accuse me of being "hung up" and dismiss what I say when your language makes it obvious you are angry at him still?

Sorry things didn't work out but it doesn't mean someone thinks you are "less" because of where you are from. You clearly have confidence issues because you keep saying things like "people like you make others feel like they don't belong" etc. Do you think I felt like I belonged in Poland? You are never going to fit in a foreign place as well as you can at home. It is always challenging to be an expat in some ways. Maybe you need to go home. It worked wonders for me in a lot of ways.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #23
He was disrespectful towards me and my family and it still makes me angry. Shlould've left him on a Polish street for a couple of hours and switched my phone off, that would've been funny to watch :). I'm perfectly comfortable with who i am but when somone is an ass to people that are close to me then of course i will defend them. This attitude that some foreigners adapt when they come to a foreign country, as if everyone and everything were supposed to accomodate them, truly is one of my pet hates, and it's not just the British people that do it too.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #24
Right....Poles do it just as bad as anyone. That's why I commented on your assumption he was the big smart Brit and you were the stupid little Pole. It is a behavior irrelevant to nationality to be a jerk or to default to the simplest language.

My ex got a dose of her own medicine the times we went to the US and she was not in control and couldn't understand the system, customs or all language in certain areas with strong accents and she hated it...gave her a new appreciation for that I went through every day in Poland. It's never easy to be the odd man out.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
9 Mar 2010 #25
Do you think I felt like I belonged in Poland? You are never going to fit in a foreign place as well as you can at home

I fit in UK very well, i dare to say better than i did in Poland. Wouldn't you be cheesed off if you took your girl home and she just sat there and spoke to no one and gave you hassle? I think not. I've moved on a long time ago from the twit i mentioned above. Right now i would not form a relationship with someone with such a closed mind. Many people on here actually accused me of detaching myself from Poland alltogether and fact is i don't miss it, but i'm protective over my relatives and things we value, and i feel for someone who is in a similar situation i've been in. You attack me because you were on the other end of the stick getting grief from the Poles, which is quite surprising because if anything i'd have thought you could relate to this feeling of being treated as an outsider. Funnily enough the exes family were smashing and always made me feel welcome, he was just a twit i suppose and he had to go :) i'm happy now. This is not about me, it's about how some people treat their partners who come from a different background. If the OP's bloke expects her to see his family a lot and spend time with them, then maybe he should also make an effort so it's not just a one way street?
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
9 Mar 2010 #26
Agata - I think when you truly love someone you want to learn as much about this person as possible. My ex-wife (ex due to my own stupidity) learned conversational Swedish AND Polish. (I'm born in Poland but raised in Sweden so I use Swedish most of the time when talking to my parents - easier for me).

She was severly dyslectic which made it even harder on her and the first 100 words or so she learned on her own (bought Rosetta Stone CD for Swedish and Polish). I never asked her to do it instead she did it all on her own. One day she told me I was handsome in Swedish and I instinctively replied she was beautiful in Swedish before I realized she spoke Swedish to me. A minute later she said the same thing in Polish!

A relationship has to be a 2-way street engagement! In mine unfortunately she put in much more effort than I did. Frankly I was pretty clueless. It sounds to me like your boyfriend is making the very same mistakes I made - he's taking you for granted.

Since he learned some Spanish before and his relationship with the Spanish girl fell apart he might feel like it was all for nothing. Stupid thinking of course as what you've learned is yours forever. Having said that, I think he is a taker and not a giver when it comes to emotional fulfillment.

Be very careful before you decide to marry him. Not sure he's worthy of you.

Good luck to you both...

PS. I like Softsong's approach, maybe it'd work for you two?
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #27
I did not attack you...I was also not getting "grief" from Poles...I was just not happy with a lot of the cultural issues that made life complicated for me. I pointed out your automatic default to the "we are seen as lesser and poor us" mentality that Poles exhibit a lot. That has nothing to do with either of our relationships. I don;t disagree people shouldn't try to learn..I do think you have unrealistic expectations when you have been learning English since childhood and he likely never even cared about Polish until he met you.

In any case I was more commenting on your "it was almost like he saw me as a stupid easterner" comment. It is a default attitude amongst Poles and of course you don't want to admit it. The complex is very real. Even a lot of Poles admit it. It is annoying and self perpetuating. If you had just said he was a tw@t because he didn't even try and treated you like cr@p fair enough I would have left it.
Amathyst 19 | 2,702
9 Mar 2010 #28
Is Poland really uninteresting for English people and if so why do they despite that decide to have Polish partners?

He learnt Spanish because he was in love and liked the language...sounds like he has little interest in you let alone your language if he cant be bothered to say thanks in your mother tongue. But bear in mind, Spanish is easy on the longue for a Brit, Polish is like spitting stones...Its just not natural for us - as Im told time again by a friend English is Toooooooooo soft!
Bzibzioh
9 Mar 2010 #29
Nice sentiment, Justysia. And only natural and healthy. Foreigners would interpret this as an ego issue, lack of self criticism, pride complex and whatever else they can think of. I understand perfectly what you are saying.
beelzebub - | 444
9 Mar 2010 #30
Of course....us "foreigners" can't possibly notice a self confidence complex when we see it. Only another Pole could possibly know the TRUTH about why we are so sensitive. Please.

Her first reaction was to separate it into "big bad arrogant westerner" and "poor little persecuted easterner".

I feel bad for her that he was not good to her...I have had the same experience. But this innate reaction of accusing him of seeing her as a stupid Pole has nothing to do with the relationship and everything to do with the cultural complex.

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