Polish pronunciation isn't that hard, really. :) I mean, there are a lot vowels in English, which are undistinguishable for non-native speakers. And in Polish we do indeed have few consonants not present in English, but they're arguably easier to distinguish for non-natives. And our writing system pretty much (if one forgets about sonorisation and desonorisation) has a 1–1 correspondence between speech and writing, which makes things reasonably easier.
I'm not saying that it's the easiest, but that much what is said about Polish pronunciations are overstatements. :)
Length? In Polish? I've never even felt any difference in the average word length between Polish and English. :) You may be right that we have slightly longer words, but that's mainly due to the grammatical endings, so we're always talking about similar (or even the same) syllables, which shouldn't be that intimidating, should it? ;)
Don't be afraid of Polish word length. There's plenty more to fear in this respect on the other side of our western border. :D
Also, I wouldn't say that it requires no practice and dedication, but I really recommend you trying Esperanto, which is really as easy as a language can get. :)
The course at Duolingo is great and Esperanto will definitely boost your language learning skill in no time, especially with any Romance language like Spanish or French.
Names might be able to be translated directly, but it helps to know at least a bit for background knowledge. Also, Irish morphological rules like lenition and eclipsis only apply to names when they're native Irish ones, so they probably want us know at least one so we don't think all names are unlenited.
Otherwise, it's just a useful mechanism to learn about verbs, etc. without just the generic pronouns. That's my take on it.
Irish and English both differentiate between the simple present (itheann Pól, "Paul eats") and the present progressive (tá Pól ag ithe, "Paul is eating").
Some other European languages don't make this distinction, but in Irish, itheann Pól does not mean the same thing as tá Pól ag ithe.
Yes - tá Pól ag ithe.
Unlike some other languages, both Irish and English differentiate between the simple present - Itheann Pól/"Paul eats" - and the present progressive (also called the present continuous) - Tá Pól ag ithe/"Paul is eating".
When dealing with Irish and English, you can't translate a present simple statement in one language into a present progressive statement in the other.