I just completed my Polish class on Friday. Five hours of class a day, five days per week, plus at least an hour of homework and studying (and it was usually more). In total: about 200 hours. Actually, that’s not much at all, but in six week, lets just say I feel like I just studied for the Bar Exam again.
So where am I now: Well, for my friends who know the CEFR scale, I would say I’m at a fairly strong A1 reaching into the A2 territory. Yes, six weeks and I’m still at a beginner level. Slavic languages really do require a different amount of dedication from me! It’s okay though, I’m actually very happy with how much I learned. The beginner stage lasts a long time, but eventually we move beyond it.
There are probably a couple of things that make this incredibly awkward stage seem to go on for awhile, but I can narrow it down to two: cases and vocabulary.
Okay cases, you don’t really scare me (in theory!) I already had to learn them for German, complete with adjective endings. I thought the cases would be the easy part…oh what a naïve beginner I was! Here’s the thing with Polish cases: there are seven! Then, a lot of them have similar endings. That should make it easy right? Not for me. For me, that means I want to start mixing up case endings. I can’t believe I’m saying that I would actually have preferred them to all be different so that I could at least compartmentalize them in my head! That’s just going to have to be something that I pick up through seeing them written so many times. So ultimately, as frustrating as it is having to stop for an awkwardly long time and think about endings, it’s probably one of the easiest things to improve.
Vocabulary: this one is a bit of a mess. In other languages, you can at least count on some basic recognizable words. Not so easy to find in Polish. It’s quite overwhelming at first when even words for days of the week or months of the year, or seasons are completely foreign. There is a silver lining though: Polish does have a much greater amount of Latin-borrowed words than I originally thought.
As far as what I plan on doing to continue learning Polish, I think I’ll try continuing to focus on grammar and case declensions, and start pushing vocabulary after those cases are pretty strong. Wish me luck in my quest for Polish!