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  1. #1
    tzfujimino's Avatar
    tzfujimino is offline Key Member
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    Default I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Hello.

    I think Polish people speak very good English.(Or should I say...something like... Polish people are relatively good at acquiring foreign languages?)
    Why do I think so?
    Well, when I was in the UK, (I was studying English then.) I met two Polish people.
    One of them was an engineer, and the other was a physicist.(They were both studying English, too.)
    I was amazed to hear their English. It was unbelievably good! I even thought, "Do you really need to study English?"
    Here in this forum, too, I got to know a Polish person, who uses English with native-level fluency.
    Some time ago, I watched a CNN report, in which Polish Finance Minister, Jan Vincent-Rostowski, speaks very good English with a British accent. (I'm not sure if he is Polish. He might be a native speaker of British English.)

    Based on these limited experiences of mine, I came to the conclusion that...Polish people have good language skills.

    Well...it might be another strange idea of mine....
    What do you think?

  2. #2
    a_vee's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Maybe English is similar to Polish so that it's easier, or maybe English is very common in Poland, but I have never met a Polish person in person.

  3. #3
    SirGod's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    I guess, as a_vee stated, Polish could be just very common in Poland. Or maybe you met only fluent English speakers.
    English is not similar to Polish, it is a Slavic language and English is a Germanic language. Furthermore:

    Polish is a highly inflected language, with relatively free word order, although the dominant arrangement is subject–verb–object (SVO). There are no articles, and subject pronouns are often dropped.
    ...
    Adjectives agree with nouns in terms of gender, case and number.
    Source: Polish language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And there could be more. As far as I know, birdeen's call is an excellent speaker of English and a native speaker of Polish. Maybe she could shed some light on this matter.
    Not a teacher.
    Not a native speaker.
    Just a language lover who is majoring in English.

  4. #4
    CarloSsS's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    Hello.

    Based on these limited experiences of mine, I came to the conclusion that...Polish people have good language skills.
    I am not a Pole but the Polish border is just a few kilometers from where I live. I used to watch Polish TV, know a few Polish people personally and understand some spoken Polish too, because Polish is quite similar to my mother tongue. As you said, you experience is quite limited and I would not draw any conclusions from that. Polish is quite different from English, however, not as different as say Chinese or Japanese.

    On the other hand, I must admit that I met quite a lot Poles well-versed in English. I also wonder, as you do, why that is. I am sure it is not because of similarities between the two languages. It might be because the Polish language is spoken only in Poland and thus English is their means of making themselves understand outside Poland.
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 01-Jun-2012 at 21:35.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  5. #5
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Jan Vincent-Rostowski is a native speaker of British English.

    There are many Poles who are not fluent English speakers, if anyone has any doubts about that. Take a look at this video (if you speak Polish and don't like swearwords, don't). After the Polish UE accession, many Poles emmigrated to Britain to find a better life, often without any knowledge of the English language. The guy in the video seems to be one of them. I'm not sure how noticeable it is, but he is actually speaking English. I know of at least one family who moved to England in 2005, and none of them knew any English beyond "good morning" in 2007.

    Poland is a pretty big country Europe-wise. And it seems to have very active internauts. For example, the Polish version of Wikipedia is currently the sixth biggest in the world by article count, and it had long been the fourth. I think both things must have something to do with the presence of fluent Polish speakers of English on the internet, which I have also noticed.

    I could try to offer some other possible explanations for the phenomenon tzfujimino perceives, but that would require entering the rocky waters of the "Polish mentality" and things like that, which I would prefer not to do.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 02-Jun-2012 at 02:48.

  6. #6
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    I am not a Pole but the Polish border is just a few kilometers from where I live. I used to watch Polish TV, know a few Polish people personally and understand some spoken Polish too, because Polish is quite similar to my mother tongue. As you said, you experience is quite limited and I would not draw any conclusions from that. Polish is quite different from English, however, not as different as say Chinese or Japanese.
    I must say that it irritates me how little Czech I understand. Of course, I'm able to understand what a conversation in Czech is about, but I can't watch a Czech film without subtitles. I think it's interesting that I can easily recognize the parts of speech and even grammatical forms in Czech, but it's the lexicon that eludes me. I wish I had studied Polish dialects when I listen to or read Czech. Studying Czech wouldn't have been a bad idea either, actually. My perception is that Poles don't want to study Czech because they think they can understand it anyway, so there's no point in putting an effort into it. That's not the case unfortunately.

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by a_vee View Post
    Maybe English is similar to Polish so that it's easier, or maybe English is very common in Poland, but I have never met a Polish person in person.
    Polish is an Indo-European language, which I'm sure helps. The syntaxes are quite similar, and many words can be recognized as akin without much knowledge. Both languages are European languages too, which means they have borrowed heavily from Greek and Latin. The borrowings in English and Polish are often easily recognizable as akin, which often helps. (Although it creates many false friends too.)

    However, the languages are definitely very different. There's no chance of a Polish speaker understanding an English text if they haven't studied any English before. Even though the languages are thought to have common origins, thousands of years and kilometers have separated them.

  8. #8
    tzfujimino's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Jan Vincent-Rostowski is a native speaker of British English.
    Ah, no wonder he speaks very good English, he is a native speaker of British English!
    I should have visited the Wikipedia first, I suppose.
    Thank you for your input on this matter.
    I really appreciate it.

  9. #9
    CarloSsS's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post

    There are many Poles who are not fluent English speakers, if anyone has any doubts about that. Take a look at this video (if you speak Polish and don't like swearwords, don't).
    Although I understand most of the "conversation", I have difficulties to grasp why he swears so much. I know a lot of people who use the word (k-word) in conversations freely, but I do not think I have ever hear someone use it so freely and frequently. I mean saying "kur*a" (the equivalent of the f-word) after almost every word, that is a bit extreme.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  10. #10
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    There are a lot of Polish people in England. Most of them probably have family in Poland and visit regularly. Also there is a strong link between Polish and English people which dates from WWII.

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