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Learning a language solely for your partner


lorni
2 Dec 2014 #1
Is it a good idea to learn a language for the sole reason that it is your partner's mother tongue. Kind of like, out of love and respect for who they are, their culture etc. Would it be possible to become fluent when this is your goal or would you need more motivation like needing it for work or to live in the country or something?
1172ftj 6 | 17
3 Dec 2014 #2
I would think it is respectful to be willing to learn a language for your significant other, and i am sure they would appreciate it and they would be more than happy to teach you.
DominicB - | 2,709
3 Dec 2014 #3
Would it be possible to become fluent when this is your goal or would you need more motivation like needing it for work or to live in the country or something?

While it is a nice gesture, it is highly unlikely that that will be sufficient motivation to learn more than a few expressions, especially with a devilishly complicated language like Polish, in which saying even simple sentences requires a great deal of grammatical knowledge, tons of practice, and iron discipline. It's not a plug-and-play language like English, where you can quickly start speaking once you start learning it. It will take you years to come up to basic conversational fluency.

This isn't knocking the language. I learned it and used it in Poland for twelve years as a professional translator, have read hundreds of books in it, and obviously love it despite it's perverse difficulty. But this is a language you have to learn because you love it with all your heart, not just to please your mate.

I just think there are better ways to spend your time showing respect for your partner and their culture.
Wiem - | 7
3 Dec 2014 #4
I attended a course (in Germany) that was attended primarily by peolple who tried to learn it for their partners, contrary to me. I actually just started for fun, but I'm really serious, really want to become fluent once. So what I saw, was that the people learning it for their partner weren't really motivated. Well they were alittle, but didn't try so hard like I did. In one year they didn't really reach anything and many had already quit after half a year. Now I'm having a polish boyfriend, but that doesn't change anything, since I was already learning the language and trying my best.
Levi_BR 6 | 219
3 Dec 2014 #5
My gf wants me to learn polish. I want to, but i remember when i lived in poland, AND it is incredibly, INCREDIBLY difficult language (even with a lot of sounds similar with Portuguese).

And actually i feel a bit guilty that i can't speak polish while she is learning portuguese so fast (Of course that Portuguese is WAY easier than Polish). Maybe in the coming years i will try.
pam
3 Dec 2014 #6
Is it a good idea to learn a language for the sole reason that it is your partner's mother tongue.

I think it's a nice idea, but you would have to be extremely dedicated and focused.
As others have said it's not an easy language to learn and you may find yourself disheartened once you realise the amount of knowledge you have to acquire to have even a basic level of Polish.

But you never know, if you start learning you may grow to love the language for what it is and find yourself enjoying it not just because you are learning it for someone else. All I can say is that you could give it a try and see how it goes. It will certainly be a labour of love though!

Kind of like, out of love and respect for who they are, their culture etc.

You don't need to learn a language to show love and respect. Take an interest in Polish customs and traditions. Name days, Wigilia etc.

I'm sure your partner would appreciate that you've made the effort.

Would it be possible to become fluent when this is your goal or would you need more motivation like needing it for work or to live in the country or something?

To become fluent would take years and to be honest you would need to be speaking it every day in my opinion.
Good luck with it if you decide to take up the challenge though :)
OP lorni
4 Dec 2014 #7
if you start learning you may grow to love the language for what it is and find yourself enjoying it

Yes, I agree totally. I am sure this will happen. It is a beautiful language, I can see that already.

[quote.]It will take you years to come up to basic conversational fluency.[/quote]
Is it really that difficult? Could one reach basic conversational fluency in a year if they really made an effort?

I just really want that connection you only get with someone when they speak their mother tongue. For me it is really important even if we are just talking about very basic things for the first while.
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Dec 2014 #8
Is it really that difficult? Could one reach basic conversational fluency in a year if they really made an effort?

Yes, it really is that difficult. It's by far the most difficult Indo-european language (English is the easiest). And it's very unlikely that you will reach basic conversational fluency in only one year, even with major effort. Even translators trained by the military who study the language every day from reveille to taps don't often manage that. The grammar is truly perverse, and makes Latin seem like child's play.

For me it is really important

Give it a try. Like Pam said, there is an off chance that you might actually fall in love with the language. It is a helluva challenge, though, and one that will try your patience time and time again. Every rule has tons of exceptions, and even Poles have trouble. Just the amount of grammar you need to say the number "two" is mind boggling. Polish learners of English often complain that we have a couple of hundred irregular verbs. In Polish, ALL verbs are irregular. There isn't a single regular verb to be found. Take English grammar (which is childishly simple as far as languages go), multiply it by a thousand, and that will give you a good idea what you are up against.

The worst part is speaking. Your listening and reading skills will develop long, long before your speaking skills do. When I was learning Polish, I was reading at professor level before I was speaking at preschool level. The amount of time needed to develop basic speaking skills is the reason most people who start learning the language soon quit. Those that persevere generally have very serious motivations to learn (long-term living, studying and working in Poland), iron discipline, and a masochistic love of pain, hard work and frustration. If you fit that description, then have a go at it. Good luck!
Monitor 14 | 1,820
4 Dec 2014 #9
Is it really that difficult? Could one reach basic conversational fluency in a year if they really made an effort?

No. It all depends on motivation. If you're really motivated then you can learn basics in 1 or 2 months. Check this thread of a British girl who wanted to learn the language of her boyfriend (Greek) in 1 month:

how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=29835&PN=71&TPN=1

And as some write that you need years to become proficient. There is no problem with that, as your partner is going to be with you for years.

To be successful it's good if the partner speaks to you a lot in Polish and is patient to explain words. That and motivation followed by regular learning is the most important IMHO.

And it's not just a nice gesture.

As for Polish considered difficult. It's not the most difficult language and the biggest difficulty are cases. To speak with mistakes, but being understood you don't have to master that. Without cases Polish is not more difficult to start speaking than any other language.

I would add that there are Polish language preparatory courses in Poland which last 1 year, after which you should be able to study in Poland. So I would say they achieve little better than basic proficiency. Although it's a full time commitment apparently tens if not hundreds of people finish them every year with success.
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Dec 2014 #10
Kind of like, out of love

The best teachers in the world are Pain, Shame, Fear, Guilt, Regret and Hunger. Notice that Love doesn't make the list.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
4 Dec 2014 #11
as your partner is going to be with you for years.

Not necessarily !

a devilishly complicated language like Polish, in which saying even simple sentences requires a great deal of grammatical knowledge, tons of practice, and iron discipline.

And he's not kidding, as even the Dummies book (and I am a dummy I readily admit) struggles to break it down into easy chunks.
OP lorni
4 Dec 2014 #12
When I was learning Polish, I was reading at professor level before I was speaking at preschool level.

Okay that sounds really daunting but I really want to learn it. How long did it take you to become conversationally fluent?

motivation followed by regular learning is the most important IMHO.

Thanks, yes regular learning will have to be the way to go.

And he's not kidding, as even the Dummies book (and I am a dummy I readily admit) struggles to break it down into easy chunks.

Oh I totally believe you that it is difficult. I'm not too worried though. I'm sure I'll be able to learn it in a year or so if I put my mind to it.
Wulkan - | 3,249
4 Dec 2014 #13
I'm sure I'll be able to learn it in a year or so if I put my mind to it.

What is your native language and what other languages do you know and to which level? How old are you?
pam
4 Dec 2014 #14
I'm sure I'll be able to learn it in a year or so if I put my mind to it.

I wouldn't bank on it.
It's the case system that makes it so difficult for English speakers. If you have experience of other Slavic languages it will be easier, but it's far from being a walk in the park.

Hard work alone will not be enough for you to become fluent in a year. I've worked very hard studying Polish, I'm stubborn and I don't give up easily on anything. It's simply too complicated to master in such a short space of time.

If you live it and breathe it, you can achieve a lot in a year, but I think you're setting your standards too high. Especially as you haven't started learning it yet, so have no idea what you're letting yourself in for.

I'm not trying to put you off, just being realistic.
Take it one step at a time and be proud of each accomplishment, you don't have to set fluency as the ultimate goal.
I'm sure your partner would be proud of you just for trying, I'm sure he's not expecting fluency from you.
Let us know how you get on :)
Monitor 14 | 1,820
4 Dec 2014 #15
Not necessarily !

Of course nothing is sure, but without a risk nothing would be done :)

Okay that sounds really daunting but I really want to learn it. How long did it take you to become conversationally fluent?

I've linked it once: effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has created a list to show the approximate time you need to learn a specific language as an English speaker. After this particular study time you will reach "Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3)" and "Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3)"
Polish: Category IV: 44 weeks (1100 hours)
Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English

And here explanation of FSI S3 level. It's compared to C1 in European grading. So very high level, as A1 is minimum and C2 maximum level.

govtilr.org/skills/ILRscale2.htm#3

What is your native language and what other languages do you know and to which level? How old are you?

Yes, that's important. It's proven than younger people learn faster, so if by chance you are 3 years old, then I bet you will master Polish in 3 years ;)
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
4 Dec 2014 #16
Of course nothing is sure, but without a risk nothing would be done :)

I give 'em [them] 2 months before the honeymoon period wears off :)
OP lorni
4 Dec 2014 #17
Oh har har... :)

It's the case system that makes it so difficult for English speakers.

Yes, thanks, but I mean being able to speak with lots of mistakes and just being able to understand. I don't have expectations to get the cases right in the first year. Just to have a conversation even while butchering the language totally would be fine for me. I won't be talking to anyone but my partner so it won't matter, it won't have to be perfect. I would like to be fluent eventually though in a few years. Okay, a good few years :)

What is your native language and what other languages do you know and to which level? How old are you?

English is my native language but I'm fluent in French and can kind of speak German. I know they are way easier than Polish but it's something. I'm in my twenties so it'll be harder than if I was young I know.
bambi - | 8
5 Dec 2014 #18
tons of practice, and iron discipline.

Sorry but have to disagree completely, on the two main fronts - that loving someone and wanting to speak to them in their language is flimsy motivation, and that Polish is so difficult you need to bury yourself in grammar books for years before being able to hold even a simple conversation.

The best motivation for learning a language is to communicate, and to be understood. When falling in love, or being in love, with someone, all you want to do is communicate with them, in whatever and every way, and this is particularly intoxicating when they speak a different language to you ... there is so much richness, so much potential for so many charming, disarming exchanges. In the first stages of language learning we are like children again, sweetly vulnerable, entirely in the hands of the one who knows. And it is the easiest way to learn a language, with a lover, because neither side tires of each other's words, and both are completely forgiving of the other's mistakes (pretty much ... : ). I think it is absolutely the best way to learn, and the quickest, and the most like natural language acquisition. And anybody can access a language like this - you don't have to be someone who is comfortable with grammar learning, etc.

And now to Polish: is it so hard? I haven't found it so. I have loved the tricky bits. And I think that if it is properly introduced, it isn't hard to pick up - but the problem is, it so rarely is. People see all the grammar tables and endings and just think it is impossible ... of course it isn't. Babies learn it, like any other language. I've watched how children acquire Polish, and heard it, and my own daughter was entirely fluent until four (when she went to English school) - it's just the same as any other language. There is only one right way - only one way sounds right. You have to just open yourself up to that, truly understand what that means, and not come up with crap that isn't what anybody else is saying.

I think the hardest bit to get to grips with, if you haven't learnt, e.g., Latin, is that words change and behave differently to their static English counterparts. (Incidentally, I think English is easy to be bad at, and very hard to be good at ... ). But you can get accustomed to this - your best bet is to listen and listen to people speaking Polish, and just accept that's the way it works.

What can I say ... learn it on the pillow, and don't go into it thinking it's hard - think of it as a rewarding sort of puzzle, and delight in its complexity.

Of course you can do it.
OP lorni
5 Dec 2014 #19
Of course you can do it.

Hey Bambi, thanks so much for your encouraging words.

don't go into it thinking it's hard

Yes, that's exactly what I am trying to do. I think if you keep telling yourself something is really really difficult, you'll never get anything done and you won't be in the right state mentally so it's best not to dwell on the difficulty of it. I already know a little but I'm going to really try from now on.

The best motivation for learning a language is to communicate, and to be understood.

This is so romantic. I have never thought of it like that .

Sorry but have to disagree completely, on the two main fronts - that loving someone and wanting to speak to them in their language is flimsy motivation,

Agree totally, I think it's great motivation too. When you really love someone, you would do anything for them, even learn Polish :)
Szenk88HTAFC 2 | 47
7 Dec 2014 #20
When I started learning Polish around 2 years ago (properly I mean, not just picking up buzzwords) I did it for myself. There was extra motivation to learn it from my wife/child/family roots but most of all it came from me.

I think that that is the only way that you can really do something as intensive as learning another language, especially when you are older. You may pick it up easily, you may find it incredibly difficult, but it's important to remember that it will all come with time. I can read it much better than I can speak it (which I assume is fairly normal for Polish) but the speaking is coming along.

The best thing I have found about learning another language like Polish is that it's fun. Trying to wrap your head around sentence structures, learning new words that you didn't think possible for your mouth to make and just being able to benchmark yourself against where you were a few months before is tops.

Good luck!
Wulkan - | 3,249
7 Dec 2014 #21
I'm in my twenties

That sounds good, if you won't lose your motivation too early you should be ok.

I'm fluent in French and can kind of speak German. I know they are way easier than Polish but it's something.

Don't say German is easier than Polish, German is very hard language and it's probably as hard as Polish, depends on individual.


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