Polish. The struggle continues.

Are you sitting comfortably? I’m not, but that’s a story for another day.

Then I will begin.

But before I do  let me tell you that I’ve just completed a new App which will be here as soon as it has finished the apple approval process. Come on boys. Let it through. Allow the world to feast their eyes on another awesome Surfacelanguages app which is ..

… an Italian word puzzle type game for those of you who like such trinkets and are learning Italian.

For those of you who like such trinkets and are not learning Italian, other languages will follow soon (ish).

As the title of this post indicates, I’m still struggling with Polish. This has again been brought home to me recently as I’ve been doing a large number of language exchanges (scambi) in Italian.  And this in turn has made me think about my progress or otherwise with both Italian and Polish, or more colloquially where I am at. (I know, we are not supposed to write like this, but people say it. Where are you at? Or even where are you to?)

Returning to Italian before talking about Polish. I have reached the point where I really enjoy chatting in Italian. Sure I make mistakes and whatnot but I have fun, and importantly I can generally understand what is said to me. This is crucial (like duh) if you want to have a conversation, chat or meaningfully exchange information about topics.

I’ve made progress, and success breeds success, positive feedback and encouragement encourages more effort in turn leading to more success. And so on.

Back to Polish. It is not that I haven’t made any progress. It is that my progress isn’t very fast. I’m plodding along, like the proverbial tortoise.

In fact, when I was whinging about this, the Boss (who is wiser and more insightfull than me – and also controls the diary) reminded me that I said the same about Spanish. Of course I initially denied this. I was trying to save face. Polish is more difficult than any other language and so on. But the more I thought about it, the more I had to agree that she was correct.

Actually when I think back to learning Spanish (and I’m still learning by the way – it’s not like you can suddenly say I know Spanish …),  it took me years to feel confident speaking the language. If you read my blog regularly, you will see that this is a recurring theme. Learning languages takes me a long time. I don’t mind this, as it is just a fun hobby, a diversion, and a way of learning more about the world.

I haven’t as you may have guessed tried any Polish language exchanges. This is in part because I can’t say much, but more because my Polish comprehension is still very weak.

My experience with exchanges (in general) is that for them to be useful, both people need to have a similar language level. Otherwise most of the talking is done only in one language. This can still be fun, and you can have entertaining conversations but it is not especially useful in language learning terms.

The difference for me is that Italian has become a part of my life.  I have people to talk to, I read and while I try to remember and write interesting (well to me) words and phrases down, I don’t really do any formal ‘studying’.

I haven’t reached that level with Polish. I will and I am looking forward to that point, as that is when the language comes alive and becomes interesting.

Besos and baci,


Language Goals. 2015

I, like duh, run (as and when) Surface Languages and like so many others have language aims of my own. New year is a time for reflection, resolutions and so on and so forth and I don’t want to be left out.

My language goals for 2014 were :

To improve my Italian from B1 to B2 (on the CEFR) scale.

Learn to count to twenty in Polish and say more than hello, and slimak, slimak pokaż rogi.

Did I get there?

I didn’t reach B2 in Italian orally but am closing in on this. (My comprehension is above this so that’s cool).

I can count to twenty in Polish and know more of slimak, slimak.  So a big tick there as well. Aim high that’s my motto.

My language goals for 2015 are :

To improve my Italian from B1 to B2 on the CEFR scale.  I’ll carry on improving my Italian during 2015 mainly by reading and chatting. I like to talk, and I like to read, so nothing too onerous there. I particularly like reading Italian thrillers and as I like reading crime novels all I’ve done is shifted some of my reading into Italian.

To reach B1 in Polish.  I’m going to make a real effort with Polish this year. I feel (perhaps erroneously) that I’ve reached a point where the language is starting to make sense to me. I need to find someone to talk to and will do this the second half of the year.

To reach A2 in Russian (reading) 

I also wanted to dabble with another language, and especially with the current international situation Russian is particularly interesting.

Still, I know my limits and there is no way that I will have the time (or mental strength) to start speaking the language.

My primary interest is reading. I want to be able to read Russian. I’m particularly interested in reading the news (at the moment), and although it is definitely the case that slavic languages are difficult for English speakers this seems like an achievable goal.

Russian (like Polish) is a difficult language but my goal is only to read and not to reproduce or understand the spoken language.

We will see.