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Corrections aren’t a bad thing – far from it. The sooner you learn that, the better. Corrections are the greatest indicators of the things which you can learn which will instantly improve your Polish speaking ability.
You should be glad to be corrected. Corrections stop you from speaking broken Polish. They’re examples of correct language use which you can learn and use. Corrections are so rarely given in real life you should be grateful whenever you do actually receive them!
Corrections stop you murdering the language
Ever heard someone speaking broken English? Then you have an idea of what it sounds like to native speakers if you speak broken Polish. A simple correction could mean that you no longer sound like the Polish version of Tarzan.
Listen to any corrections that people give you and memorise them. Immediately you’ll start sounding like a more intelligent and confident speaker of the language.
Corrections are rare – be grateful
Corrections are hard to come by. Most Polish people will not correct a non-native speaker if they can still understand what they mean. A lot of them know how difficult Polish is for non-native speakers. They wouldn’t want to discourage you by constantly correcting you. That’s especially true if they can’t speak particularly good English themselves. That’d be a bit hypocritical, don’t you think? (A bit like English speakers who criticise English learners’ English, even they themselves can’t speak any other languages. Hmm.)
Corrections are examples of correct language use
Corrections give you correct language which you can learn and then use. Simply add your corrections into Anki, learn them over time and then you’ll never make the same mistake again!
Don’t be discouraged – learn from your mistakes
You should try not to get discouraged when you make a mistake. Make sure to make it clear to encourage native speakers to correct whenever you do. Until you have acquired enough vocabulary and grammar knowledge, you may have to occasionally guess how to say something in Polish. If you guess incorrectly, it’s important that you know that it’s incorrect so that you don’t keep making the same mistake over and over again.
Oddly, the more Polish you know, the more corrections will infuriate you, because you’ll assume that you should know better. Don’t get angry, thank the person correcting you and learn from your mistakes. By learning Polish as a second language, you’ve had far less exposure to it, plus a lot less time to make mistakes like you did when you were learning to speak English. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to make the occasional mistake – just make sure that you learn from them!
How to actually improve (your grammar)
The best thing I did to improve my Polish was sentence mine a grammar book. That way, I knew that I’d seen all of the grammar patterns that I was likely to come across and over time I’d learn how to produce them all. The grammar book that I used was Iwona Sadowska’s “Polish: A Comprehensive Grammar”. While there were a few dodgy translations in there, it really is the best book out there covering Polish grammar that I’ve ever come across and is worth every penny. Check it out for yourself here:
By putting the examples into Anki, I then had cloze tests for every sentence and grammar pattern that I needed and could drill myself until I got them right. If you’d like to try something similar, get hold of the book and then make your own cards in Anki. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a pre-made Anki deck to save you the time and hassle of typing out thousands of sentences, download one of my Anki packs from the Resources page now:
What have you been corrected on?[alert-announce]One thing that I was always struggling with was when to use ‘nic’ (‘nothing’) and when to use ‘niczego’ (‘nothing’) instead. What have you been corrected on?[/alert-announce]
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