The Polish language is an interesting one – you’ll often hear just how ‘hard’ it is to learn, about the strange grammar rules and and the genders. People often learn Polish due to circumstances, and don’t usually think to pick it as a foreign language to study in general. It’s not often available in universities to study towards a foreign language degree. Even though it might be a bit more difficult than other languages to learn, it isn’t impossible, and it’s a beautiful, mysterious and interesting language that makes up a huge part of our fascinating culture!
First and foremost, Polish is a Slavic language, which is widely known. More specifically, it belongs to the West Slavic group of Indo-European languages. It is originally derived from Old Polish, and came into use in the 10th century, which is when the Polish state was itself developed. Initially, it was only a spoken language, and came into the written form with the Latin alphabet which was brought about by Christianity. Due to its structure, Polish is classified as an inflectional, synthetic language. The oldest record of single words in Polish is from the 12th century.
In the beginning, the Polish language had strong influences from Czech, German and Latin. Over some centuries, French influence came into play and, now, like many other European languages, a lot of influence comes from English. In dictionaries, there contains over 130,000 Polish words, with around 20,000 being used daily.
When learning Polish, admittedly the hardest part is the beginning. It takes a higher level of fluency to be able to hold a conversation in comparison with learning English, for example. Once this barrier has been crossed, it becomes easier and easier to speak and use Polish in daily life. That’s why motivation and especially determination is key when learning Polish. Due to the fact that Polish is similar in some aspects to other Slavic languages, being in the same group after all, it is easier for people of Slavic descent, with a Slavic language as their mother tongue, to learn Polish. This is in comparison with someone who is a native English speaker, or someone from an Asian speaking background. It isn’t impossible, though!
Lauren, who is a native British English speaker and reached B2 level in Polish said, “At the beginning, Polish was difficult. Just the numbers and alphabet were an initial challenge, and it’s easy to see how it can put someone off, even though Polish uses the Latin alphabet. However, as I kept learning and going to classes, it all started to join together and actually make sense. I really like languages, and Polish is really specific for me. I like that it’s complicated, I think it’s really charming, and I like the way it sounds. People say it’s a harsh sounding language, compared to Russian for example, but Polish has it’s own unique appeal.”
The number of Polish language speakers can be estimated at over 45 million people, of whom about 38 million live in Poland. Polish is used by numerous groups of Poles or people of Polish origin living outside of Poland, including in Great Britain, USA, France, Germany, Australia and Canada to name a few. This shows that Polish can be spoken and used outside of Poland, and within Poland it’s worth to know and speak Polish and not always rely on English.
One of our most experienced teachers, Ania, said the following: “It’s interesting that in Polish we understand a lot of abstract concepts possessively. ‘Mam na imię (my name is)’, ‘mam 30 lat (I’m 30 years old)’, mam nadzieję (I hope)’. In English there is ‘to be’ or a verb – I hope.
Do you want to learn Polish? At KLUB DIALOGU Polish Language School for Foreigners, there is myriad opportunity to learn Polish in interesting ways and in a one of a kind setting, at our school with other foreigners from all over the world, individual lessons or even at your home, office or in a cafe. Don’t be put off by what you hear! Our teachers make Polish possible!