It happens a looooot! You have no idea how many times I felt like I hate Arabic, Czech and Spanish and I’m gonna leave it all. No more exercises, no more pushing myself to say “My hamster drank your milk” or ” I found a shoemaker in your grandma’s bed” on Duolingo. But as a real fighter I never really gave up. If I could keep it up, you can too. I’ll share with you ways to motivate yourself to study Polish every day.
If you learn Polish because your wife’s or husband’s family doesn’t speak English – here you go. Point number one: I want to understand what the heck they are talking instead of fumbling in a plate of bigos for three hours. Maybe it’s reading Polish books, studying in Poland or simply you are an amazing polyglot (then you don’t need this article, because you already know it all 😉
Post about it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and in local newspaper. Make everyone support you and ask about your progress. They will check on you and it will make you want to avoid embarrassment of telling everyone you gave up because you lost a fight with Genitive. If you feel you’re on the edge of giving up – close your books, go out, relax and embrace making mistakes. They are a normal part of learning process.
I know most of us don’t talk to strangers anymore. You don’t need to ask for way because you have your Google Maps, you don’t have to talk to a vendor because you can shop in a supermarket. But! If you really enjoy the culture of the country which language you learn you probably want to get deeper – go to a farmers’ market and buy “Kilogram ziemniaków i pęczek marchewki” or maybe go to Pijalnia wódki i piwa and comarade some people. Polish people after a couple of beers can teach you not only Polish slang but probably also Mandarine… Imagine such situation will give you ideas what you have to work on and will motivate you to keep studying.
It really work if you stick to the rule. After sometime it will become normal and your mind will set on speaking only Polish to certain people. If it’s a group of friends – even better. They talk to each other in real Polish in natural pace. If you want to be a part of the group you need to learn the language. It works for me with Arabic. I’m an eavesdropper and I get irritated if there is an emotional conversation going, everyone seems excited and I need to ask for translation. You don’t want to be an outsider, do you?
If you are in a very beginning of your adventure with Polish you probably struggle with Polish pronunciation. So did I with my Arabic. There is an excellent exercise to improve pronunciation – record yourself and compare to recordings of natives (a lot of them are available online. You can find alphabet eg. on www.popolskupopolsce.edu.pl). But don’t stop recording when you feel you are good at differentiating between “sz” and “ś”. Keep recording some free talks every week and name them with dates. After sometime you can listen to the first ones and laugh at your own mistakes. There’s no better motivation than feeling proud of your own achievement .
95 % people I teach doesn’t study Polish for work. It’s their choice, sometimes hobby. Don’t think about studying Polish as a hard chore you must do. This about Polish as your best friend. It’s patient, understanding and forgiving. It tells you: If you don’t have time to study – it’s ok, we can skip the meeting but don’t forget to give me a call soon so you don’t forget how I look like. Don’t push yourself to study 2 hours a day at the desk with a frown on your forehead. Lie down, sit on the floor, play Polish audios when you are running on a treadmill. Make it part of your leisure. If you don’t understand something – don’t torture yourself – ask me or another professional teacher. If you go to Italki – there is a section for members where you can simply ask a questions and natives are always eager to answer. Chill out and the language will come to your head. Are you afraid you forget the vocabulary from a week ago? You don’t. You will need to use it a couple of times before it stays in your long-term memory but it has already rooted.
Some students give themselves a regime to study intensively every day to speak as soon as it’s possible. It’s ok. But if you feel tired, discourage of slow progress, you can take a day off and just learn passively listening to some podcasts, radio or just songs to get accustomed to the melody of Polish language. It’s still studying.
Routine is very important in learning language. Don’t let your brain forget completely about the mission. Even if you feel demotivated today, try to spend 5-10 minutes on Duolingo, Memrise, Anki or reading one paragraph of a book you chose to be your milestone.