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  1. #11
    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
    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.
    There are many people in Poland who talk like this. They use the k-word as a filler word like "umm" or "y'know". That guy seems to be under a lot of stress and to have trouble communicating his thoughts, which is probably why he's using this word so much. I don't think he's expressing anger or any other kind of emotion by this.

  2. #12
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    Chicken Sandwich is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    I think that the fewer the number of speakers of a particular language, the more likely are they to have a high proficiency of English. I don't know any Polish people, but where I live, in the Netherlands, people speak fairly good English. Most of them have quite a thick "foreign" accent, and most people, even academics make quite a number of mistakes, pronunciation wise, but also grammar wise. On the whole, it's quite decent, compared to let's say native speakers of Japanese, Chinese or French, who, for the most part, speak very little English.

    Edit: I actually know one Pole (not personally), Successful English learners: Tomasz P. Szynalski | Antimoon. His American accent is flawless.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 02-Jun-2012 at 22:39.

  3. #13
    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 Chicken Sandwich View Post
    I think that the fewer the number of speakers of a particular language, the more likely are they to have a high proficiency of English. I don't know any Polish people, but where I live, in the Netherlands, people speak fairly good English. Most of them have quite a thick "foreign" accent, and most people, even academics make quite a number of mistakes, pronunciation wise, but also grammar wise. On the whole, it's quite decent, compared to let's say native speakers of Japanese, Chinese or French, who, for the most part, speak very little English.

    Edit: I actually know one Pole (not personally), Successful English learners: Tomasz P. Szynalski | Antimoon. His American accent is flawless.
    I don't think there's any simple relation between the number of speakers of a language and the proportion of those who are proficient in English. I'm fairly confident that most speakers of Nganasan aren't profient English speakers. There are more native German speakers than native Polish speakers, and German speakers have better knowledge of English than Polish speakers according to this map.

    Also, I'd like to say that I think accent is irrelevant in a discussion about proficiency in English. I'm not sure if you wanted to imply it is, but that's how I read your post.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I don't think there's any simple relation between the number of speakers of a language and the proportion of those who are proficient in English. I'm fairly confident that most speakers of Nganasan aren't profient English speakers.
    I think the relationship does roughly hold for Western Europe. If you look at that map, you will see that the knowlegde of English is high in the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. It's lower in Spain and France. There are more native speakers of French and Spanish, than there are of Dutch, Swedish and so on.

    You're absolutely right in saying that there are more German speakers than native Polish speakers and that German speakers are more proficient in English than Polish speakers. But that to me seems like an exception to the general rule of thumb.

    Accent is indeed irrelevant, because everyone has an accent. What I actually meant was that people from the Netherlands, including academics, mispronounce words. One of my professors pronounced "access" as "excess", and MIStake, rather than misTAKE. Quite an error if you ask me. I hear quite of a lot of that: placing the accent on the wrong syllable.

  5. #15
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    CarloSsS is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich View Post
    I think the relationship does roughly hold for Western Europe. If you look at that map, you will see that the knowlegde of English is high in the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. It's lower in Spain and France. There are more native speakers of French and Spanish, than there are of Dutch, Swedish and so on.
    What about the Czech Republic, which can also be considered Western Europe?
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    What about the Czech Republic, which can also be considered Western Europe?
    Good point. The relationship between the number of native speakers of a particular language, and their English proficiency doesn't always hold. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it does apply more often than not.

    Here's another tidbit. At my university, American textbooks (and texts from the UK to a lesser extent) are the main choice for science courses. In Spain however, the very same textbooks that we use are translated into Spanish. I guess that makes sense: there are more Spanish than Dutch speakers, so the market is much larger. But as a consquence of that, Spanish speakers don't even develop passive English skills, nevermind being able to communicate fluently. I guess they could learn English equally well, but since pretty much everything is translated into their native language, they don't have to make any effort to learn English.

    The relationship runs both ways. It makes little sense to translate textbooks into Dutch because:
    1. the Dutch have excellent passive skills.
    2. the market is very small.

    Having a small market, proved to be an advantage for the learning of English. The same applies to Danish, Swedish and so on. I doubt there are advanced Cell Biology books in Danish.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 03-Jun-2012 at 01:10.

  7. #17
    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 Chicken Sandwich View Post
    Good point. The relationship between the number of native speakers of a particular language, and their English proficiency doesn't always hold. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it does apply more often than not.
    I'm really not sure it does. Even if we confine the discussion to the languages spoken in Western Europe, do you have enough data to back this claim? I would expect native Galician speakers to have English proficiency levels distributed similarly to Castilian speakers. I would guess Corsican speakers not to be among the best L2 English speakers in Europe. What about the speakers of the various Romani languages? Faroese speakers?

    I just don't think it's that simple.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I'm really not sure it does. Even if we confine the discussion to the languages spoken in Western Europe, do you have enough data to back this claim? I would expect native Galician speakers to have English proficiency levels distributed similarly to Castilian speakers. I would guess Corsican speakers not to be among the best L2 English speakers in Europe. What about the speakers of the various Romani languages? Faroese speakers?
    Now that you bring up so many exceptions, I'm starting to think that my theory is quite wrong. Actually, it's not even a theory I came up with. What people usually tell me, is that the fewer the number of speakers of a particular language, the more likely are they to have a better than average knowlegdge of English, because they need English to communicate with other people. But indeed, I don't think that Corsican speakers excel at English at all.

  9. #19
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    One factor might be the education system- there are many Finnish people who are at native speaker level and that may be down to the fact that they start learning very early, along with the professionalism of their teachers and system.

    In the case of Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries in that area, I was teaching in the UK many years ago when the first students in the post-Soviet era came over. They were noticeably behind their EU counterparts- their teachers had, in some cases, been teaching Russian as the second language and were suddenly dusting off English books to teach that a few lessons ahead of their students. However, the gap closed astonishingly quickly- within four or five years, there was no difference. To pull this off, I imagine there were a number of factors at work.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Tdol is right. The fact that communism regime plagued countries such as The Czech and Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary etc. make the learners of English in such countries somewhat fall behind those who have lived in a country never plagued by communism. You see, for the communists, English was, as they used to put it, "an imperialistic language of the evil West". Therefore there was no point for the inhabitants of such countries to learn it, because they would never need it. Russian was the main second language an sometimes German. Sadly, the impact of communism on the proficiency of English learners (and the penetration of English as a second language) in the post-Soviet countries still (more or less) prevails.

    Note then, that this is only of of the factors playing part in this issue.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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