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When does the Polish course get hard?

At what moment throughout the Polish course has it been incredibly difficult for you? For me, I am slowing learning new phrases and the mechanics of the language. I have finally decided to write down everything I get wrong for additional practice because this language is quite difficult! I would like to hear from you what is the most challenging part of learning the Polish course here on Duolingo!

August 29, 2018



I think Polish is going to cause me a Repetitive Strain Injury, due to the billion or so times I've typed "declension" into a search box..... :)


the ends are a b**** aren't they? I am slowly understanding some patterns but trying to decipher what is masculine, feminine, and neuter is almost impossible at times!


haha so many variations. I like it when one of those patterns seems to slot into place, though, and I start to make more assured predictions - right up until some new and bizarre twist comes along to laugh at my puny efforts ..... :)


that's the perfect way to describe it XD my girlfriend corrects me all the time, it feels like i am making no progress


Personally, I've been finding it all difficult, perhaps because I've been taking it too slowly (while I have also been tidying up my French tree, post update).

Polish has been the first language that I started on Duolingo without any prior knowledge (beyond seeing the word "chleb" in the bakery) or connection to my mother tongue. That makes it the most alien, with nothing to step off from in terms of familiar grammar or vocabulary.

I think I will tidy up my crowns as far as the next checkpoint and then continue with just practices, but with more intensity until the basics stick.


The only way I am able to get it down is to get a gold tree to advance. I refuse to use the app because I want to be able to articulate my own sentences. The only way I am able to do that is through writing everything out on the keyboard and then physically writing everything I get wrong! I'm sure you'll breeze through Polish though since you have such a long streak! Congratulations!!!


The most challenging things are that Polish has awfully many rules, variation with adverbs, prepositions and that every word you learn you have to learn them seven times( the cases). Despite of all mentioned it´s a beautiful language.


after the first lesson :)

Globally, it was mad to understand that meczyzna is a masculine word which has the behavior of the feminine word except for its adjective ! that's crazy !


There is NO rule in Polish that says only the female gender ends with -a.

Because there is A LOT masculine personal words that end at -a: akrobata, baca, celebryta, dawca, egoista, finalista, glina, hazardzista, idiota AND MORE...

In Polish there are SEVERAL HUNDRED masculine personal nouns ending with the -A (including names e.g. Barnaba, Kuba, Maria).

If you want check how much, go to http://sgjp.pl.

"Mężczyzna" isn't an exception.

The -A ending ISN'T for neuter, exception: Marmara (sea), Samoa (country), Tonga (kingdom); because morze, państwo, królestwo are neuter.

Edit: "mężczyzna" is an exception when you compare this word with: tężyzna, ojczyzna, polszczyzna, Lubelszczyzna, dziczyzna, włoszczyzna - witch ARE feminine. But the same can be said for every other masculine personal noun which ends with -a, e.g. *AKROBATA: debata, rabata, herbata; POETA: dieta, kareta, kaseta, kuweta; TATA: armata, prostata, krata, mata, Beata, Agata etc.


In my 1980 Polish beginners' course we used pan/pani for man/woman, so in 2017 it was a shock to have to upgrade to mężczyzna/kobieta and get head & fingers around an untypeable male noun with feminine characteristics.

But my worst moment was when I simultaneously hit Verbs of Motion and Perfective/Imperfective Verbs, with the extra complication that Polish past tenses are gender sensitive (rozumiałam/rozumiałem etc.) in a manner I've not encountered in French or German, for example.

At that point I seriously considered abandoning the course as unlearnable.

Though I'm still here, I still struggle with those verb forms.


I found it quite difficult around the end of the first checkpoint, plurals-- it got to be a lot to remember. A little earlier, it got really confusing when I had multiple skills partially done. Now, the only way I can make progress is by turning a skill golden, and then moving on. I try to mix in about 50% practice to new skills.


Because Polish is a very hard language to learn…



As soon as it asked me to write mężczyzna. :)


My new favourite headwrecker is "Jego szczoteczka do zębów jest pomarańczowa."
(His toothbrush is orange) :)


nothing beats "Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami" a table with broken legs


Och come on are you going to tell me that "W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" is simpler? Or maybe "W czase suszy szosa sucha"? It's easy to write but try saying it (another version: "W czasie suszy suchą szosą szedł Sasza")


Ha, ha ! Yes, Andu, I was going to say, from day one. :-)


The truth - I found it hard after the second lesson, the spellings are very difficult to remember though some are at last sinking in, the cases beyond nominative and accusative are tricky and once we get onto adjectives, - they do not always appear to agree with their noun. Pronunciation is something I find extremely difficult due to all the subtle differences between the 'zzzs' 'schsss' 'dzscsrszs' sounds (I am playing here) and so forth. In Spanish it's almost always a simple 'o' 'os' / 'o' 'os' and 'a' 'as' / 'a' 'as' but lovely Polish just keeps on springing surprises on me ... the fact that the noun endings are not obviously (to me) male, female, neuter... their plurals. seven cases in total.... male and female past tenses..... and on and on and on..... that is what makes it such a brilliantly challenging language to 'try' to learn..... phew! :)


I feel it gets harder after level 8


There is too much complexity and personally, I think learning to speak and read fluently is a pipedream for a non-native. I have started the course 3 times and gave up out of sheer frustration. Maybe this time I'll finish. I write down everything- words, gender, declensions, rules, etc. and almost nothing sticks. Now I understand why half the world speaks English. It's so darn easy to learn!


English is not an easy language, by any means. This is a common and persistent stereotype. The only reason people learn it easily is because they are constantly exposed to it.


I disagree. I know many people who learned to speak, read and write decent English in a year going to classes four or five hours a week. English pronunciation is difficult because it is not phonetic but grammar is simple. I will never speak adequate polish and perhaps after another year of study, I may be able to read at the second or third grade level.


English has many, many difficult features. - The syntax of negations and questions are tricky to learners. The way you use "do" as an auxilliary, for example. - One of those is phrasal verbs. How could you guess that "make out" means "kiss", from the verbs "make" and the preposition "out", that are completely unrelated? Oh, and sometimes you can detach them, and sometimes not. And of course, they have multiple meanings. A plane takes off, and you also take off your shoes. Similarly, prepositions, where if you mess up you can end up saying something you didn't want to. You can say "I got on the plane", but really, physically, it means you got in the plane, not "on it". Yet the preposition is "on". - The mix of Latin and Saxons roots can sometimes be confusing and make people think that the vocabulary lacks consistency. Kingly, royal and regal all come from "king" in the end. But they're used (subtly) differently. Or fast, rapid and quick. Help, aid and assist. - There's hundreds, if not thousands of those, and they're used all the time. English tenses are also insanely difficult for foreigners. Think about "I worked", "I have worked", "I had worked", "I was working", "I have been working" and "I had been working". All of them mean different things, sometimes the difference is subtle, but sometimes you couldn't swap those out without making your sentence unintelligible. And future isn't better, because you can also say "I will work", "I will be working", "I will have worked" and "I will have been working". And again, they all imply different things. And then you can add subjunctive to it! "If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have been able to tell you". Try analyzing that one, it's a fun one. - There's also gerunds. "They were counting on us paying the bill" is incorrect, you have to write "They were counting on our paying the bill.". That is terribly counter-intuitive to foreign learners. - For each single verb, you have to remember whether you need to use "to [verb]", "[verb]" or "[verb]ing" after it. "John must go", "John needs to go", "John keeps going". Sometimes both of those are correct but have different meanings. You can "stop to help someone", which is absolutely not the same as if you "stop helping them". Sometimes it's a mix of those forms, like "I look forward to going with you." - Articles. You may think those are easy, if your native language is a Indo-European language, but most of the world doesn't have them, and it makes those extremely difficult to learn. You can "see a book" or "see the book", but it has to be "see the sand", and you "experience happiness" without articles. Sure, knowing whether a word is countable or not helps, but sometimes even that is not intuitive. Why is lettuce not countable? - Ambiguity with multiple modal verbs. "I can't seem to find my keys" is a perfectly valid and simple sentence, but to someone coming from a foreign language, they might not understand that "can't" refers to "finding the keys", and not to "seem". That's ambiguous. In my native language, that word order would mean that you are not able to appear to find your keys. - The order of the adjectives is set according to seemingly random rules. You can have a "little red dog" but not a "red little dog"

It really boils down to which country you are coming from, and your exposure to English, which, I repeat, is very high everywhere in the modern world. In ads, music, movies, business talk, daily talk, video games, and that plays a huge role in its ease of learning. As for Polish, yes, it is complex. The beginning is difficult, continuing is difficult, and you'll keep finding weird things regularly about it. The thing that's probably bothering you the much is the grammar/declensions, with all the different endings and rules. They are hard to approach, but once you've mastered them, you'll see that they really help learning further. You will end up seeing patterns and notice things that you wouldn't have, and you'll eventually get to consider all these heavy declensions as a strength and a valuable help.


Great post, now I wonder how I ever managed to learn English. ;)
I reckon English is an easy language to learn the beginnings of and to get by, but difficult to really get right und understand the subtleties.


I still disagree. I am constantly dumbfounded by how well foreigners can speak English with a modest amount of instruction. This, that, these and those vs the over 60 word forms necessary to use (ie remember) these words correctly in Polish. Polish is a language you have to be born into to speak fluently. I'm sure there are other languages more difficult than Polish. English is not one of them.


But, again, foreigners are surrounded with English (often American) culture all the time. In most languages, English words are used as part of slang, or business talk, and getting accepted into the language so quickly. Whereas Polish is rare to hear in the wild. And for those 60 forms you speak of, well, first of all, 60 is a well exaggerated number, and once you learn declensions, they apply the same way to the extreme majority of words. It's always the same system, you don't have to learn the forms for each new words. And in English, you also have forms you need to learn by heart, such as all the irregular verbs (sing/sang/sung, be/was/been, bear/bore/born...). There are certainly many Polish speakers who were absolutely not born into it and speak it fluently, and that seems like a moot point considered how, again, most non-native English speakers are practically born into it as well.


Too many learners of English speak poorly for it to be considered easy. Interestingly, Slavic speakers of English are generally among the very worst. English is a very hard language to learn. Most next-gen Americans I encounter can't speak it well and it's usually their one and only tongue!

As per Polish, I am finding progress through strong organizational skills and rote memorization. The more you learn, the more you can learn. Keep pushing yourself and it'll pay off in other areas of your life. You can conquer Polish. Adaptability, finding more efficent means of working with the information at hand is another thing. One ends up learning a lot about oneself through the process.


"Slavic speakers of English are generally among the very worst".

The facts say otherwise: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EF_English_Proficiency_Index


I disagree strongly with any contrary assertion. I have family in Russia and Poland, I have worked with scores of Poles and other Eastern Europeans amongst others. I can count on one hand the amount if speakers who can speak correct English without a litany if errors. As I've said before, non-native speakers have the advantage of speaking to native speakers who are accustomed to hearing broken English from a variety of accents all over the world at varying levels of fluency. Without that, it would impossible to get by. Just as faintly off-key Japanese leaves one unintelligible to native speakers.


I found the initial couple of units hard to get used to the spelling and sounds. Then the next few units they introduced cases. At this point I had to google some stuff because I was like, "wow wtf is going on?"

Then once I understood that I was ok. It was still hard, but I was getting used to the sounds and stuff which made it a lot better.

I found the Prepositions unit especially challenging as well, which is about midway I think. Again there is a great guide by Clozemaster (google it) that will help you identify what cases to use following each preposition.

Edit: now I'm on Past Tense Perfective and it's very heavy too.

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