I work for a magazine,which was doing an article about British language learners.As an experiment,they asked me to learn a completely new language for one month.Then I had to go to the country and do some"tests"to see if I could"survive"in different situations.I decided to learn Polish because my great-grandmother was Polish and I have some relatives there.I can already speak French and Spanish quite well but Polish isn't a latin-based language so I knew it would be completely different.
I did a one-month intensive course at a language school in Birmingham.I thought I was good at languages before I started learning Polish,but now I'm not so sure.I found it incredibly difficult.The grammar was really complicated and the words were not like any other language I know so it was very hard to remember them.For example,I thought "football" was more or less an international word,but it Polish it's "pilka nozna".And the pronunciation is unbelievable!Every word is full of z's where you don't expect them,like "jezdzisz" which means "you go".
My course finished yesterday and I'm going to Kraków for the weekend to do my tests.A local guide called Kasia is coming with me and is going to give me a mark out of 10.
Mark 10, wait for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I arrived at Kraków airport with Kasia,my guide.Test number one,I had to get a taxi to the hotel.I said to the taxi driver,in Polish,"To the Holiday Inn hotel,please,"- "Prosze do hotelu Holiday Inn".No problem.The driver understood me.But then he started talking to me in perfect English.I felt a bit stupid.
We got to the hotel,checked in,and then we went to the hotel bar for the test number two.
A waitress came up to us and I said "Prosze piwo," that is,a beer please.Then the waitress said something in Polish and I understood her!She said " a big or small beer?" "Big," I said.I was so happy that I could understand her,I really enjoyed that beer.
Next we went out into the street for test three:asking for directions.I decided to ask for directions to a chemist,"apteka".I stopped a woman who looked friendly and I said,in Polish,"Excuse me please,is there a chemist's near here?No problem.But then she started talking really fast and pointing.I tried to listen for left or right or anything I could understand but no,I couldn't understand anyting.I was sure that Kasia was going to give me zero for this test!
I was feeling less confident now.We went back to the hotel for test four:making a phone call.Kasia gave me a phone number and told me to ask to speak to her friend.His name was Adam.I dialled the number.A woman answered the phone."Is Adam there?",I said hopefully."Adama nie ma," she said.I understood that!Adam's not in.I wanted to say"When will he be back?" but I could only say"When home" "Kiedy domu?" And I didn't understand her answer.So I said thank you and goodbye very politely.Kasia smiled,so I thought,well,not bad.
Finally,test five:asking the time.I knew this test was going to be very hard.Numbers in Polish are incredibly difficult and I've always found telling the time is impossible.But I had a brilliant idea.I stopped a man in the street and said,"Excuse me,what's the time?"I couldn't understand the answer but I just said,"Sorry,can I see your watch please?"He showed it to me.Twenty past seven.Perfect!
How well did I do in the tests?Well,Kasia gave me five out of ten for language and eight for imagination.So can your learn a language in a month?Not Polish,definitely!