Originally, I had another post in mind for this week, but after things that happened by the end of the week, I decided to write something more personal.
It has been about 2 years since I started learning Polish [CLICK HERE FOR MY REASONS WHY I CHOSE POLISH]. To be honest, I was quite anxious when starting it. Especially because of those things you see online about this language: people claim it is one of the hardest languages of the world, that rules do not make sense, that few natives master it properly, among other claims.
Honestly, most of those claims were 100% lies (and even more confirmed after reading the background of such people). Yet, Polish isn’t an easy language. Especially when living far away from Poland, thus access to Polish media, Poles or even going to Poland every now and then is hard. Many people have told me that it’d be a better and safer choice to study German, French or Mandarin Chinese since the chances of finding native or advanced speakers of these languages in Chile are bigger than the ones of finding people speaking Polish. Curiously, I did learn some French and German back then, and one of the things that discouraged me of keep learning it was not having the chance to use these languages outside the classroom. Back then tandem sites were not as popular as now and several people preferred to use English or Spanish rather than other languages.
However, Polish keeps surprising me somehow. I *have* used Polish at work, I use it online on a daily basis, I take some time to read articles or listen to Polish radio and two days ago, I was invited to the local celebrations of the Polish national day at the Polish Embassy in Santiago for the second time in a row. Probably, I haven’t used and heard that much Polish since my last holiday to Hungary, where I would hang out and stay with Poles and often switched to Polish for a long while. Yes, it feels weird to speak a foreign language in your country and out in the street, but… I liked that sensation. I took it as a good test on my language skills. Sure, I need to still work on my numbers (but then, numbers in any language are a problem for me -no wonder I studied Humanities-), prepositions, certain verbs, remembering important words… yet, I am feeling more confident in Polish just by looking behind and seeing what I have achieved.
In comparison to other languages I have learned in the past, Polish has made me feel more complete (maybe it was because of my first experience with the language and I felt like if I were part of a community) and probably it is the reason why I put plenty of effort with it. Some people would already have given up when studying the first declension case or when trying to make the distinction between sz and ś [which I am working with it as always]… yet, the Polish community online and offline is quite welcoming in general. Yes, they are at first surprised, shocked and they won’t understand why I am so determined to learn the language. My answer will always be switching to Polish immediately and use other languages only in extreme situations. After that, believe me, it’ll be hard to stop using Polish and switching to another language with them. You’ll be corrected many times, yet they will feel that they are part of your learning process.
If I were to say anything to future language learners, polyglots or so, it would be to indeed follow your intuition with your language learning process while picking what to learn. Motivation and your genuine interest for the language and culture can make you do wild things out of your comfort zone you’d never expect and it’d be more useful for several aspects of your life than following what other people claim to say it is best for you to learn.
Have you learned an unusual language for the part of the world you are currently living in? How did you feel before and after the decision? Please, share your impressions in the comments!