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Polish, yikes

Polish was my first language and I was delighted to see it here... MY GOODNESS POLISH IS HARD. I apparently didn't retain much.

Is anyone else learning it? I feel like I need a support group and steady reassurance that I'm not completely dumb for not getting it quickly. :) Will provide same!

February 17, 2016



I am learning it and yes, it's a bit hard. But not really the hardest language in the world as some people call it ;)


I love Polish, but it's a very intimidating language to learn. I've been having trouble building up the confidence to start learning it, lol


I know how you feel. It is really, really hard. It's quite hard to stay motivated when there is so much to learn. I'll have to say that I'm not doing much work on it because it's not my main language and because I'm finding it hard. I'll be a member of your support group! What can I do to support you?


Haha, honestly just knowing other people think it's hard is a big help :) I followed you so I can support your Polish progress!


I understood and spoke some Polish when I was really young, since my family is from there. I lost it over the years though and have been slowly getting back into it. It certainly is difficult! I'm learning French too so I keep thinking of the French words when I try to translate the Polish exercises.


Just started learning Polish a few days ago, it's incredibly tough! Such a beautiful language though, I really wanna stick it out and learn it. Hang in there :)


"Wszystko będzie w porządku"

Support group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1704717749744552/

Also, I would recommend you to get a good grammar book, or even using Duo as a helping tool instead of they main source for learning the language. Courses made by volunteers usually have fewer notes than the big ones (e.g. Spanish), and in the case of Polish it feels very detrimental. I mean, trying to figure out why it is "lubię film" but "lubię kota" and then "nie lubię filmu" and "nie lubię kota" without an explanation seems very difficult to me.


Uhm, I don't think Duolingo works as a "main source" for learning a (any!) language. I have no idea how that would work, even in theory, and don't believe for a minute it's supposed to be that thing. Apart from that I'm completely with you, the Polish course feels painfully incomplete, especially after the basics. A lot guesswork needed, much trial & error going on. Now, being challenged from time to time isn't necessarily a bad thing, though it surely doesn't help at all if there's no way to learn just why you've got this or that right when you've got it right. For that, and as matters stand, you'd need a book indeed. But when I have a book, well, then there's hardly need for Duolingo, and where and when I use Duolingo, there's usually no book(s). Or even a desk.

It's still fantastic to see there's a Polish course at all (!!) and how much progress they made. The only reason I use Duolingo. :)


I'd agree that Duo isn't ideal as the main source for a language. I didn't know the background of the development- I had the impression that if I was struggling with this platform, then I DEFINITELY wouldn't be ready for another.


Duolingo is useful for repetition. You have to keep trying things and eventually when you get it right it is more likely to stick. After the 10th time trying to spell mężczyzna when I finally got it right I was more likely to remember it. I find the Duolingo approach with randomised sentences better than simple flash cards, which I find very boring and therefore tend not to do.

Not knowing why something is wrong is a problem and that is when the forums come in very useful. You can ask why is dog now "psem" instead of "pies" and probably get a very helpful answer. In a lot of ways this is crowd sourcing the lessons and it works pretty well.

For what it's worth this sort of complaint gets made about the French course too, and that's one of the most content rich ones as far as I know. You do not get detailed explanations of even basic things like how the -ER verbs are conjugated. You either pick it up by trial and error or you find out in the comments or you use an external resource like french.about.com or wordreference.com.


I need more than 10 times - still get mężczyzna wrong :p


yes, it is really hard to spell it even for Polish!


Ha. The time it took to learn that word! One of the first words here, and this has been my only source. Weird that the czy is pronounced as "deh" in this word.


yep, it is a tad inadequate


It is hard... I've learnt the language from my partner and consider myself fluent at the domestic level - can get around Poland with no issues. But goodness, I find even basic reading/writing exercises so difficult! Have no idea how people without any background manage - you guys rock!


Don't worry. I started Polish as soon as it was released and I remember I didn't know a single word of Polish but just thought it would be cool. The way they say words like man and girl freaked me out at first because they are so hard to spell and say but don't worry, you'll get there. You are definitely not dumb because Polish is a challenging language. It's an awesome language so just go through it at your own pace and don't worry about silly mistakes.


The pronunciation seems to be coming back okay (although it is VERY intimidating!) but man, the grammar rules and vocabulary is really tough to remember. I'm thinking that I'd probably need to focus exclusively on it rather than splitting my time between German and Polish.


If you knew Polish as a little child it may have left you an adwantage of being able to hear and pronounce Polish sounds.


Yup, I can read/ repeat out loud and write down what I hear with few problems. It's everything else! :)


Slow and steady. I started on day 1 when it was released, and am only starting to feel comfortable like I'm not going to just quit in despair. It has been tough, but with some repetition, after every few sections completed, I go back to review from the beginning, and after a few iterations of that, the basic grammar/mechanics are starting to click.

Vocabulary is the other tricky part, because they don't really drill on here. But Memrise is a big help with that. There is a very good course on there called "Duolingo Polish" that mirrors the sections here, but just drills the vocabulary.

So no, not dumb. The unanimous opinion seems to be that Polish is very hard, and we are all struggling. But what a neat language! And won't it be nice to start feeling comfortably intermediate one day?


Yup, can't wait! I've tried memrise and it didn't really click for me, but I hadn't checked out that course- thanks for the tip! Yeah I can't wait to be able to say a few things competently- half of my family will be so impressed :)


I would recommend downloading a book called, "Polish in a Nutshell". This is an excellent reference for grammar rules, conjugation and declension.


Thanks for the tip!


Polish is the first new language I'm attempting to learn, and though some parts are coming easier than others, tense and context differenciation are difficult, though I think that's because I only speak english maybe haha


I understand completely!! I was born in Poland and was around it for the first 4 years of my life and I'm just now trying to relearn it! Ive had a little bit of a hard time with it.


Same, but in england. welcome to the relearning gang!


I'm in the same boat as you. I thought I would breeze through this since I still speak Polish at home on occasion. This has been quite a rude awakening.


Really? I have barely spoken it for 7 years and i'm breezing through it

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Hello, Polish native speaker here. If you need some help or find it hard to grasp some aspects of Polish language don't hesitate to ask me.

Powodzenia! :)


I'm Polish and learning it here to don't worry I'm slow with it to.


Hi, I am also learning polish, I did not know any polish, just a few words, and have only been at it for 2 weeks, but I have made progress and you will too...…...don't worry im sure your doing great....x


I finished the Polish tree around three weeks ago. It wasn't very hard for me but I had the advantage that my native language is Czech, which is similar to Polish.


Yeah, my dad and his family all speak at least a little Czech (and Russian.) That will certainly give you a leg up :)


Living in Chicago, there is a huge expat population here that speak primarily Polish, so it would help me greatly to learn it professionally. That said, a patient came into our clinic today and I couldn't catch a single word between her and our medical assistant! I feel so stupid still, but it can only go up from here, right? You're not alone at all!


I had no idea there was a large Polish population in Chicago- I wonder how that came about??


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Poles_in_the_United_States the history of Polish emigration to US dates to the begining of the States themselves. Some of American Independence War heroes, like Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kaizmierz Puławski were Poles, google them if you feel interested in this topic :) Up to this day there are probably up to 10 million people of Polish ancestry living in the USA. In Chicago (the most Polish American city) there is up to probably 7% of the city that speaks and still uses Polish. We don't have the best opinion in the USA and never had to be honest, Polish jokes are still quite popular there :D


They were probably WWII refugees. At least that's how it was with my family and friends from there.


many were, but

W czasie I wojny światowej w Chicago mieszkało 351 600 ludności polskiej, tym samym więcej niż rdzennej polskiej ludności Warszawy


"During the First World War in Chicago lived 351 600 Polish people, so more than native Polish people in Warsaw. "


In Mexico also!! Many are musicians or just come to live on the beach hahaha


Btw, the first Poles came to America with John Smith to Jamestown at the beginning of the 17th century. He needed good craftsmen for the existence of the colony and Poles were both good and adventurous enough to go with him. They organized a first labour strike there, of course. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1619_Jamestown_craftsmen_strike


Yes, I'm learning it as well! I really like the course, it's a completely different language from anything I know. If you are determined I think it's very important to pay attention to the grammar (gender, cases) as well and unfortunately, there are no tips and notes after the first checkpoint. In some other thread in this part the grammar book by Oscar Swan is mentioned, and although it looks quite boring compared to Duolingo, it's a nice source of information if you don't get it from Duolingo.

Also, in these parts, of course grammar aspects are meant to be taught, but they are not yet there, for example the genitive form after a negation, but also the pronouns. But usually (until where I am now at least), there are also explanations in the comment section, so I also check that when I have no idea why something is happening. It's sometimes puzzling (like literally), but I actually like doing that as well when I have the time.

Good luck! :)


When you reach part without comments, just start asking questions yourself. There are many people willing to help. even though sometimes we may overwhelm you with information.


immery, I think you have single-handedly answered every one of my questions this last month. Don't know how you stay on top of it all, but I sure appreciate it, and that is one of the things that makes Duolingo such a great learning resource.


After having learned Russian for about one year, Polish of course is my next challenge :)


Once upon a time a British lady asked me whether speaking Polish was difficult. I answered playfully: "It is so difficult I would have never learnt had it not been my first".

No reason to deem yourself dumb, even if you don't succeed at first. If you want to learn, you have to make mistakes. Polish grammar is so complicated and quirky it often gets native speakers confused!

Moreover, there is no way a westerner could guess her way through, so kudos for trying.


If I didn't have my current background I think I would have given up already!!


I am so curious what learning Polish is like for a child. Do people get good grades in spelling there? Do people drop out of school early because the language is so difficult?


You can't drop out of school early in Poland because education is obligatory till the age of 18 (formal adulthood).

And yeah, spelling is the nightmare of most kids. Though how bad you are at it is usually related to how much you read (duh) and I'd agree with someone above that we're fluent around the age of 16 (if as fluent we count proficiency in the correct spelling skills. That's because we start high school at 16, which no longer provides language mechanics lessons, only literature, and expects kids to spell correctly). That being said, everyone in Poland makes language mistakes from time to time :)


I know, although I live in England and have all my life. I'm homeschooled, I'm 14 and I am great with English spelling! I am not currently on speaking terms with anyone Polish other than my mother, (including my dad and all my family) so I am very rusty on Polish. I just thought I had better learn it what with all the Brexit uncertainty.


So I take it you moved away from Poland at an early age and forgot most of it? I am a bit confused..


That's not the case really as I'm actually fluent in Polish. I tried to be amusing but now see that my humour hasn't traveled well at all. What I meant was that I probably wouldn't be able to learn it except as a mother tongue.

In other words, unless you already speak another Slavic language well, you have no reason to expect Polish to be easy.

Cierpliwości i wytrwałości życzę; powodzenia!


What do you think about the English language? I know I ask that a lot, however I lile to wear other people's language shoes.


It's easy until you meet someone from Newcastle :D


It has been two years I am living in warsaw, so I am finding the basic level of polish very easy. I hope things get a bit more difficult as I go further along the course. It has been a slow ride but its such a beautiful language and I am finally starting to feel comfortable with it :)


I don't find the Polish course hard, but I am not a native English speaker so it's easier for me. Now, combining it with Ukrainian was probably not the most stellar idea, I get a bit confused. I like how this course is done so far, I really appreciate the little notes explaining where, for example, you used a verb wrong.


Do not worry, Polish is one of the most difficult languages on our planet. Poles starts speak polish fluently in high school. Even if your native language if from slavic family it will not be easy, specially pronunciation. I have few friends from Ukraine - after studying in Poland [and in polish] for 2 years they cannot even say "cześć" correctly. When I was 17 y.o. I was training one of the martial arts, I had coach from Russia. He was speaking Polish for around 15 years and he was unable to say my name and surname (if you want try check my facebook, it is linked with duolingo profile).

I as a native speaker failed EVERY single grammar test in primary school (6 classes) and gymnasium (it's a school with 3 classes between primary and high school).

Try hard and do not give up, learning polish is a full time job for years. If you have troubles you can ask me.


I believe we are selling Polish people short. I do not believe English kids do not have trouble with English spelling. And that there are no "common" mistakes that many people make like in Polish.


That is not only my opinion. I found that in an article where scientist were trying to show how difficult languages can be. They write: to be fluent in Polish natives need around 16 years, in English it is "only" 12 years.


Can you clarify your statement regarding native speakers "not being able to speak fluently untill high school"?

And on another polish post had a native saying that Czech is enjoyable, however difficult to learn. Does that put it one notch above polish on the insanity meter?

What are the main differences between the two? What do you think of English pronunciation?


Kids in primary school often mess cases, do not understand meaning of words, struggle with pronunciation and writing longer texts (like two A4 pages). In gymnasium mostly do not understand meaning of sophisticated words, barely write/read longer and complex texts.

I am not sure I understand correctly your 2nd and 3rd question but: for native polish speakers Czech is enjoyable because sounds very funny and we have a lot in common. On basic level it should be easy for polish speaker to learn czech, but in long run there will be some problems like: false friends or difference between "h" and "ch" in pronunciation (in Polish now its the same thing but in Czech not).

I made small research in google and it's look like czech has easier in grammar.

I have meet few "english" people who speaks polish. If they have even little idea how to use cases only problem is distinguish ś/sz, ć/cz, words like "wejście" and "wyjście" sounds same etc. Generally if they aim to be understand - there is no big deal but if they want speak correctly then they should spend a lot of time or ask for help professional teachers.


I think inadvertently, you answered both of those. What I meant by the last question was do you have trouble pronouncing english words?


Ideal Polish pronouncing is clear. In English we need to start lisp and we do not know how to say "th" in words like "thinking", "this", "through" - most people will say "f" like "football" instead or try tricks like: putting tongue between teeth and saying "s".

I speak English mostly in my thoughts. I had less then 10 conversations in English in my whole life - so for me it is challenging but so far every native (UK/USA) said that I speak well (they were so kind :D). I am passive user of English - I read and listen a lot but do not speak/write.

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My grandparents could not pronounce "thruway", it always came out truway. Even my mother born in the USA could not say thruway correctly. My inlaws who were Slovaks had the same problem.


That was my guess about how difficult grammar and spelling must be for young Polish kids.


As a matter of fact, even those supposed to be among the cream of Polish native speakers make mistakes on the regular. Sometimes it's not much of an issue, sometimes downright embarrassing, I'm talking about journalists and media figures, even the former president.

Deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache, oder?


Nur für Leuten wer sind nicht fleißig ;)


Ah, you answered the question I have long been wanting an answer to! Thank you!


Yeah, it's kind of scary T^T I've taken the route of being slow and taking a week on each lesson XD Anyways, good luck, and it's pretty close to Russian, so it might help if you know any of that, and it'll most definitely come back to you quickly ^ ^


I think it's hard but not hopeless. I am reviewing a lot (and a lot more), and have only finished the demonstratives lesson even though I'm level 7 in Polish (for whatever that means). I feel like i'm improving, but it's really slow. One problem I'm having is that I don't know the gender of nouns. I have always relied upon memorizing definite articles for romance languages but that doesn't help me here.

I didn't know any Polish before duolingo , outside of a few phrases from my family and a six week community college class I took many years ago (I still have the grammar/textbook from that class and need to review it.


At the 'basic' level: look at the ending of noun in nominative case - if it ends with 'a' - in ~98% it is feminine gender, 'o' is mostly neuter, 'i' and 'y' are mostly plural. Not sure about 'e' (probably plural or neuter). If it ends with consonant then it is usually (~99%) masculine (notable exception: Śmierć [Death] - this is feminine due to her name being Kostucha).


many -ć ending words are feminine.

all ś, ć ń ,sz,cz ź, ż endings are to be learned, but ć one that has more feminine than masculine nouns

  • e is plural


You are right. Forgot about these [not like I think about it anyway... blessings and curses of being native speaker, but personally I think most nouns ending with sz, cz are masculine too].

This explains why I couldn't come up with a noun that ends with 'e' in singular nominative.


you hang out at this forum too little. chwila tutaj znasz zasady polskiego i to po angielsku.

you are right with -sz I found only wesz and mysz, but there are more with -cz smycz, klacz, sicz, ciecz, dzicz, rzecz,
(try for yourself http://www.zakonczone.pl/na/cz)


The cases, spelling and the difficulty of finding resources on and offline make it a tough nut to crack. Harder than French, but not as hard as Japanese.
I would really like to find a good grammar book, a decent Polish-English dictionary (that gives the gender of nouns), a vocab book, a verb book, I doubt they even make such a thing but a noun book that shows the declensions of a few thousand nouns would be nice.
Online some grammar sites that concisely expain the problem areas of Polish, and an online English-Polish dictionary that tells the gender and declension of nouns would help.
Some languages finding these things is easy, other languages it is nearly impossible.
I have been able to remember some words and can recognize some verb conjunctions of even new verbs I come across in the present tense (tell if it is 1st person, 3rd person) and recognize some pronouns but the cases and being able to guess the infinitive of a verb I see conjugated is impossible (for me).
Yes, learning Polish is hard. Fun and rewarding (and often frustrating), but hard


You may browse this post for useful things: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16296174


Late reply. Polish was my first language as well. Starting around 7 or 8 the teachers in the US told my parents to stop speaking Polish because my English was weak. They were planning on moving back to Poland until my dad landed a fantastic job with a large American corporation. After my babcia passed away and my uncles and parents switched to English primarily my Polish tongue slowly withered away over the many years. So, like yourself I'm coming back to relearn what I lost and to expand my abilities to newer levels. It's a complex language so keep pecking away, we'll get there. --Regards , TJ


Chill ! Polish is easy. I've been speaking it when I was like 3-4 years old, so relax and just keep practising xD


Funny life. I have a polish boss rigth now, I am a hungarian and we are both living in Germoney. I'd like to understand a little bit more polish. All I knew until now was: "Polak, wenger dwa bratanki, i do szabli, i do szklanki."

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