I said I had studied Polish for some months and I dared practise it on the field. Soon I’ll publish the results of my experiment, but I thought it necessary to fill you in on how I reached my level—whatever it is—in Polish.

My dear (to someone, I guess) readers already know the reasons that drove me to study this language. Having Polish friends was among them. My first step was, therefore, asking a couple of Poles who live in Barcelona for help. They taught me their alphabet, the pronunciation and the basic expressions and vocabulary: greetings, introductions, days and numbers.

With that base I signed in Babbel, a web site—with its own application for mobile devices—where up to 14 languages can be learned. The levels in offer for each language are proportional to the language’s popularity. In any case, it’s a great tool for the first couple of years studying a new language. A post on Babbel is to appear in the blog in a not too distant future.

It's easier to find the best way when you know where you're going [photo:  Sylwia Bartyzel]
It’s easier to find the best way when you know where you’re going [photo: Sylwia Bartyzel]
With a very limited vocabulary (colours, 20 adjectives, 50 nouns and 15 verbs) and almost null basis of the grammar (able to manage number and gender and to use just one case in a specific structure) it was the time to put my knowledge to a use. I knew I was going to sound stupid, but even natives talk like that or worse their second year of life. My life in Polish was a few months, so I could afford the mistakes.

Fate wanted me to meet a monolingual Polish guy who was spending the weekend in Barcelona with friends. What happens when a Pole who can’t use any other language and a non-Pole who studies Polish doesn’t need saying. Introductions were relatively easy and helped me loosen up and him adjust his speech to my level. I spent that weekend on the beach and in bars practising his language.

Without neglecting my daily vocabulary session on Babbel, I used my native contacts—including the monolingual guy—to chat online in Polish. The features of that channel provided me with extra time to check the dictionary and Google Translate*, the reliability of which fluctuates.

From the beginning my objective was to travel in summer to put myself to the test and boost my motivation with some results. Aiming for perfection would have been stupid; I sought communication; and communication I had.

*While it’s not a professional tool, it is very useful for personal use—with a critical eye.

2 thoughts on “On achieving my survival level in Polish

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