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I’m going to tell you a secret. At the the time of writing, I do not know the Polish alphabet. I’ve never been asked to spell anything in Polish, so I’ve never learned it. Despite this, I can write pretty much any Polish word that I have ever heard or read correctly. How? Read on to find out why.
I’ve done quite a lot of reading and listening at the same time, although I’m not a big reader. Because of this, I can easily assign the sounds of Polish to the letters that they’re associated with. For all its downsides, Polish is extremely phonetic.
So is that it? My “big tip” to learn Polish spelling is just “listening and reading at the same time”? Not exactly.
How to learn Polish spelling
I’m a firm believer that you are what you do. If you want to be good at speaking Polish, you have to speak Polish. Want to be good at listening to Polish? Then you have to practise listening. So, if you want to be good at spelling Polish, you have to actually spell it.
If you’re not already taking advantage of the free writing correction features on italki, definitely check it out. You just write posts in your Notebook and submit them for correction by native speakers. By writing more and more in Polish and receiving corrections, you will learn how to write correctly over time.
While I don’t personally use the Notebook feature, I do write to a few of the Polish learners on italki privately using the (terrible) internal messaging system.
In fact, it’s this repetition and necessity that I believe has helped me to improve my writing over time. In early February 2017, I realised that there’s something that I write many times a day out of necessity and how useful it could be for learning Polish.
Access denied – why you need a Polish password
Passwords are everywhere. Sure, we’ll soon be logging in everywhere using our thumb print, but until that happens we still have to type passwords every day to do pretty much anything. If we get them wrong, we can’t get in. So, if you set your password to include a Polish word or phrase, you will learn to remember how it’s spelt out of necessity. One of my old passwords used to have the phrase “Wesołych Świąt” in it. Not only did I learn how to spell the phrase correctly, but it was probably the most secure password I’ve ever had.
The great thing about having a Polish password is that even if you told most (non-Polish speaking) people what it was, they wouldn’t be able to spell it. Talk about secure![alert-warning]TL;DR: By setting your password to something incorporating a Polish word or phrase, you will learn how to spell it out of necessity. Other ways to improve your writing are listening and reading at the same time, as well as writing messages to native speakers to get them corrected.[/alert-warning]
How have you improved your spelling?[alert-announce]Perhaps you have a different method of improving your spelling. I used to use cloze test exercises – which are included with all of the HTSP Anki Packs – to practise spelling words. By typing my guess into Anki, I would be presented with the correct spelling of the word as well as pointers on where I went wrong spelling it. Nowadays I don’t do anything explicitly to work on my spelling. I just listen and read à la Steve Kaufmann. What do you do to keep your spelling skills sharp? Leave me a comment below so that I can learn from you.[/alert-announce]
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