Friday, 4 December 2015
Oh, Brain, Hurry Up!
I am still working on Polish in 4 Weeks Level 2, and I am now in "Week 4", having this morning begun to memorize the opening dialogue to Chapter 23: Może powinniśmy wykorzystać twój pobyt w Polsce i pojechać do spa? ("Maybe we should take advantage of your stay in Poland and go to a spa?) Every day I try to memorize 10 - 12 lines of dialogue. This daily habit is, I think, helping me with my spoken Polish. I noticed
yesterday that all these memorized words and phrases came in helpful in doing my homework, which was to write a passage about my job.
The biggest problem with Polish night school, I now realize, is that there are no exams to study for. Honestly, it isn't enough to go to a language night school course and just hope that repetition does the trick. You really have to memorize, test yourself, correct yourself, and memorize some more. It's hard work and it's almost painful, but it is necessary to get results
The biggest problem with learning Polish--outside Poland, anyway--is that improvement seems glacially slow. And I keep picking the wrong books to read. That is, I keep choosing children's books and then discovering that the language therein is at least slightly archaic. I put down W Pustyni i w puszczy when, at my friend's Polish wedding, a Pole told me that he too needed a dictionary to read Sienkiewicz. Sigh.
In contrast, I picked up an Italian easy-read book yesterday in the bookshop and read the first page easily despite not having reviewed Italian for a year. Had I been getting my Italian up to speed for four years, I would be fluent by now. Speaking as someone who is not good at languages, Italian is a snap compared to Polish.
But there is hope. I write in Polish now more often than I did before--usually by email--and if I make mistakes, at least my emails are legible. Meanwhile, I'm just going to go ahead and try to read Antoni Libera's Madame. I adored it in English, reading it two or three times. The translation was written in excellent colloquial English, so it won't "match up exactly" with the Polish, but what the heck. I had might as well try. And, besides, if I want to learn to write like a Pole, I will have to learn to do it the way I learned to write like an English-speaker: by reading as much as possible.