So, you’re in Krakow, you plan to stay for some time, and you’ve decided to mingle with the locals and attempt to fit in by learning the language.
The first thing that you need to know is that Polish is one of the toughest languages to learn in the world. It’s not just a case of learning a vocabulary list each day, and committing it to memory, using the words one at a time until they become part of your active language skills.
The words – even the names of simple things such as ‘bank,’ which in their basic form are the same in English – change according to their role in the sentence. Verbs too do some very unusual things in Polish, and as for pronunciation… well, try getting your mouth around this popular tongue twister:
“W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie, i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.”
But, all is not lost. There are, generally, three routes to the Polish language. The first is to learn as you go. You will need a fair bit of self-discipline, though, and will still need to put in the hours to learn the finer points. If you’ve got Polish friends here, enlist them for practice sessions. Or, you could enrol at a Polish school, of which the city boasts a great many. Shop around, not just for prices, but to find out what the courses entail. If you want to use Polish for a specific purpose, i.e. business, there are tailored courses available.
Finally, you might choose to hire a private tutor. This can be expensive, but has the advantage of giving you intense, one-on-one lessons. Again, shop around – the most critical aspect of this arrangement is that you and your tutor ‘click.’
Finally, here are ten key words and phrases to get you going:
Hello - Cześć (informal) Dzień dobry
Goodbye - Cześć (informal) Do widzenia
Do you speak Polish? - Czy mówi Pan po polsku? (replace ‘Pan’ with ‘Pani’ if you are addressing a woman)
I don’t understand - Nie rozumiem
Please – Proszę
Thank you - Dziękuję
I’m sorry/excuse me - Przepraszam!
Yes – Tak
No – Nie
Please help me! - Proszę mi pomoc