This is it, the home stretch!

The third and final step covers the following five things: Speaking, Persistence, Exposure, Amendment, Kraków

Speaking – if you want to speak, you have to speak

To learn how to swim, you have to swim.

To learn how to read, you have to read.

To learn how to speak Polish, you have to speak Polish.

There’s no getting around this bit. Fortunately, there are hundreds of Poles who would be more than happy to help you practice.

On italki, there are not only affordable Polish teachers, but completely free language partners who would be more than happy to help you. With language partners, the only cost is your time and since I was really poor, this is the path that I took. In hindsight, I would only really recommend it to intermediate Polish learners. However, I survived it, so there’s no reason why you can’t too.

For more information on conversation exchanges and to use my referral link to claim a free lesson, check out this extensive blog post:

Please, please, please do not put this off any longer. If you’ve got more than 2,500 mature Polish sentences in Anki, you have more than enough to start having conversations.

Type “tag:polish prop:ivl>=21 card:1” into the Anki Browser to see how many mature Polish cards you have.

First you struggle, then you improve. That’s how it works.

Stop making excuses and do it. If you can’t force yourself to do it, give yourself a consequence if you don’t do it.

The first one is always the hardest. Get it out of the way quickly and then start racking up the hours.

You can create a motivating language log like I did!

Persistence – you’re gonna hit a wall

There will come a point while learning Polish when things will be a lot easier than they are now. I promise. However, that’s the point you’ll become extremely frustrated. You’ll stop seeing progress and wonder why you even bothered. You’ll know enough Polish to accomplish the vast majority of what you want to do.

This is called the intermediate plateau and it’s horrendous.

I go into more detail here:

When you hit it, you have two choices.

  1. Keep going.
  2. Stop and lose everything you have worked so hard to achieve.

When you hit it, neither of those will seem particularly attractive. My advice is to keep going. If you have to tone down the amount of Polish study you do, so be it, but make sure to keep improving. What I found useful was searching for some Polish television that I enjoyed and consuming it in large quantities. It might not seem like practice, but it counts!

Trust me on this – you’ll know when you get there. You can’t skip it, you can’t get round it, you have to go through it.

Those who defeat the intermediate plateau by continuing to work on their Polish even when they can’t see immediate results from doing so are the ones that end up being fluent.

Those who stop progressing are like those people you hear that speak broken English.

Which one do you want to be?

Exposure – yes, MORE exposure

You really should have this exposure thing down by now. However, as your Polish progresses, regular exposure becomes less important to cement the basics into your mind. However, as long as your exposure doesn’t drop to zero, you should be able to at least maintain your current level of Polish. The more the better. Don’t neglect it or your progress will go backwards and you’ll start to forget the easy stuff.

You’ve done it once already, do you really want to do it all again?

Amendment – you’re not perfect

If someone corrects you, say thank you. It’s not often Polish people do.

What’s imperative for you is getting as much correct input as possible. People can correct you over and over again, but being explicitly told how to say something isn’t going to improve your own speech until you internalise it. That’s why you need to seek out as many corrections as possible. This constant amendment will make you better. Don’t be ashamed of it – if you’re making mistakes, you’re pushing your knowledge. Stepping out of your comfort zone is when you grow.

That blog post has everything that you need to know. Thank me later.

Kraków – ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby

Remember I said you don’t have to set foot in Poland to learn Polish? I still believe that. But, there’s nothing like trying out your Polish in the wild to see a) how far you’ve come and b) how far you still need to go.

Don’t be alarmed if Poles smile, laugh or marvel at you speaking Polish. They’re not used to foreigners speaking their language because no one ever really bothers to attempt it. They will literally think you’re a superhero. Tell them you learned with an app and they’ll claim you’re a liar. If you want to really mess with their head, start saying a few tongue twisters.

You don’t have to go to Kraków, of course, you could go to anywhere in the world with a sizeable Polish community. It doesn’t even have to be Poland. If Chicago is closer, go there. Maybe you have some Polish family you can visit.

I just want you to feel what I’ve felt. Learning Polish has opened up my eyes to so much. Now I just want to learn every language and travel the world! I was pretty good at Spanish at school, but after scraping a C at college, I never thought I’d learn a language.

Now I have learned how to make conversation in Polish, I want to continue to help as many people as possible to achieve their Polish dreams. So, if you haven’t started already, please start now. I’ll help you. My email address is nathan@howtospeakpolish.com. Email me and see if I email you back.

I’ll continue to put as many resources as I can on this site for as long as I can afford to do so. I know that it’s making a difference to people like you. That’s exactly why I created a whole list of resources to help you learn how to speak Polish. You can see the full list here:

Learn how to speak Polish with these resources

When does it end?

Learning a language never ends! You might not rely on Anki as much once you’ve got more than 10,000 mature flashcards under your belt, but that doesn’t mean you should just stop there!

You will now be equipped for immersion in Poland or further advanced tutoring from a native Polish speaker. You may also choose to move onto studying a new language, ideally one which isn’t too similar in order to avoid confusion.

To avoid losing your newly established language ability, you should continue doing your Anki repetitions and immersing yourself in any Polish media that piques your interest – be that TV, radio, films, music, news or literature. Continue to add new cards for sentences that you come across which contain words that you do not initially understand or, if you haven’t already, download a Polish Perfection Pack to help boost your vocabulary. You should have some interaction either in or with Polish daily – either (in descending order of preference) reading, listening, writing or speaking it.

IMDB is an incredible resource to help you work out which Polish language movies to watch. Head to IMDB’s Polish language section and you’ll be presented with an array of options for your viewing pleasure. If you can’t see a film’s original title, click on the film title where it will take you to a page about the film containing this information. You can sort by year to find the most recent releases, refine your search by genre, or even use the user rating system to work out which films you’re likely to enjoy watching over and over again. Anything with a rating over 6.5 is almost certainly worth watching!
 

When you’re watching Polish films, you might choose to turn on subtitles to help you understand. Although subtitles can aid comprehension, they don’t always match what the people are saying and can be distracting. However, this distracting quality can be used for good as you’ll learn words throughout the movie as your eyes naturally drift towards the subtitles. You don’t even have to be watching a Polish language film to learn – try adding Polish language subtitles to an English film! Try it out on a TED talk now. On the other hand, by looking at subtitles, you improve your reading skills while neglecting a perfect opportunity to work on your listening. Instead of watching the film with subtitles, you could download the subtitle files for the film in Polish, open the subtitles file in a text editor like Notepad++, where you can select the Central European Windows-1250 character encoding (so that you can see all of the Polish letters) and then add the sentences to Anki using the previous steps. Once you’ve memorised the cards, you’ll understand the whole film without any aids at all!
 

P.S. In case you haven’t done it yet…

If you haven’t picked up a Polish Perfection Pack yet, now would be a great time to do so. It’ll save you years of effort. It’s exactly what I wish I’d had when I was starting. I’m so sure it’ll help you, I’m offering each of them with a 30 day money back guarantee so that you can try it for a few weeks and see how well it works for you.

Ultimate Pack
£25.99
84,000+ flashcards
Beginner Vocabulary Deck
Beginner Grammar Deck
Vocabulary Builder
Grammar Booster
First 1,000 Deck
Conversation Pack
£9.99
83,000+ flashcards
Beginner Vocabulary Deck
Beginner Grammar Deck
Vocabulary Builder
Grammar Booster
 
Starter Pack
£6.99
9,000+ flashcards
Beginner Vocabulary Deck
Beginner Grammar Deck
 
 
 

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my method. Please let me know if anything is unclear.

Best of luck with your Polish language learning journey and I hope that we can continue to help each other along the way!

Nathan

Learn how to speak Polish with these resources