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  1. #21
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    It's true that communism made studying English less profitable than in the freer parts of Europe, but many people of my generation wanted to and did study English. During the Gierek Decade, regular people started being allowed to visit non-communist countries, and even earn money there. Earlier, when Gomułka was in power, it was also possible, although more difficult. So many people did study some English to be able to communicate with the rest of the world. However, reaching a decent level of proficiency was difficult back then, as there were almost no qualified teachers, a shortage of books in English and a very limited access to recordings of native English speakers speaking English.

  2. #22
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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.
    Aaah! You mean the exact same word used in Hungarian, right? (and which is one of the only 3 or 4 word I know in that language )

  3. #23
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Having spent my childhood surrounded by Poles (around the RC church, in Ealing - an enclave of Polish refugees), I spent 5/6 years in a school with at least a dozen Poles in each class. They seemed to me an unusually talented bunch - a mixture of a work ethic, justifiable pride in a job well done, a tradition that values culture ... all very subjective and anecdotal. But it's not just in languages that they excel. (I shall spare BC's blubhes and stop now. )

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  4. #24
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Having spent my childhood surrounded by Poles (around the RC church, in Ealing - an enclave of Polish refugees), I spent 5/6 years in a school with at least a dozen Poles in each class. They seemed to me an unusually talented bunch - a mixture of a work ethic, justifiable pride in a job well done, a tradition that values culture ... all very subjective and anecdotal. But it's not just in languages that they excel. (I shall spare BC's blushes and stop now. )

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  5. #25
    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 charliedeut View Post
    Aaah! You mean the exact same word used in Hungarian, right? (and which is one of the only 3 or 4 word I know in that language )
    Yes, the word is also used in Hungarian, which has a lot of Slavic borrowings. The word is common to many West and South Slavic languages. It's also present in Russian, but it's less common there. It's used more in Ukrainian and Belarussian I think, and I think it's a Polish influence, but I'm not sure.

  6. #26
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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?
    When I first came to Prague to work in 1998, there were few who spoke English well. Russian was the only foreign language studied by most people at school until the Velvet Revolution at the end of 1989. English was widely taught from 1990 on, but the English teachers in schools were mostly teachers of Russian, who had had to re-train rapidly. They did a sterling job in the cirumstances, but their own mastery of the language was weak - for some it was only the language they had studied at school forty years before.

    Since then, the situation has changed dramatically. Most under-30s speak and write English as well as young Germans, and many of those aged up to about 50 have some command of the language. Many of the international companies that bought out Czech firms in the 1990s have insisted that their employees have some degree of English, and usually provide free language courses, which has helped.

    Czech teachers of English are now very competent. Indeed, many private language schools, which insisted on native-speaking teachers until about six or seven years ago, now employ Czech teachers of English, especially at beginner to intermediate levels. They have found that properly trained Czechs are very often better language teachers than native speakers armed only with a four-week TEFL course.

    To my shame , I have been unable to acquire much Czech in my long residence here - there are some drawbacks to old age! Life was not too easy in 1998 if you had no Czech; I have few problems today.
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  7. #27
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    You are right in everything apart from this part:

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Most under-30s speak and write English as well as young Germans, and many of those aged up to about 50 have some command of the language.
    I admit that I do not have much of a grasp as to how the young Germans perform in English (I've always talked with them in German and rarely in English), but in my experience, most Czechs under 30 have quite a poor command of English. That is if you exclude people living in Prague, which differs in many aspects from other Czech cities and towns (no wonder, it's the capital), and also people who do not have a university degree. In fact, I have met few Czechs who were better at English than me and I do not consider myself being very good at it.
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 09-Jun-2012 at 21:39.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarloSsS View Post
    In fact, I have met few Czechs who would be better at English than me and I do not consider myself being very good at it.
    This may be off-topic, but I have to respond to that. One thing I have noticed about Czechs is their delight in putting themselves down. Czechs who assist me often apologise for their poor English - apologise, when they have some command of my language whilst I, in Prague for more than eleven years, have a vocabulary of about 250 words!

    OK, I accept that many Czechs, especially those in rural areas, would not pass FCE or reach IELTS level 6 if they took the exams tomorrow, but the same is true for many people over most of what was traditionally known as 'Western Europe'. I stand by what I said in my last post.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #29
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    This may be off-topic, but I have to respond to that. One thing I have noticed about Czechs is their delight in putting themselves down. Czechs who assist me often apologise for their poor English - apologise, when they have some command of my language... That is very true.

    OK, I accept that many Czechs, especially those in rural areas, would not pass FCE or reach IELTS level 6 if they took the exams tomorrow, but the same is true for many people over most of what was traditionally known as 'Western Europe'. I stand by what I said in my last post.
    In the past 10 years, I worked in Prague companies where they spoke English, I worked in firms outside Prague where English was required too (and still do). The difference between the level of English of the Prague's workers and the others is very noticeable. I met not one foreigner trying to find their bearings and nobody was able to help them because they knew no or very little English (I could give more examples from my personal experience, but I guess this is enough to make my point). In Prague, this almost impossible. It is a town full of tourists and international companies. Naturally, the level of English there must be much higher than in other towns and cities.

    Czechs living outside Prague (even in larger cities like Ostrava or Plzeň) are not very good at English. Of course, a lot of them will be able to help a foreigner to find a trolley stop or a pub, but anything more is beyond their abilities.
    File:Knowledge of English EU map.svg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I know it is not much, but this map at least gives some comparison.

    I stand by what I said too. I think I have enough experience to claim something like that.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  10. #30
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I wonder why Polish people speak good English.

    During my last visit to Prague, which was three years ago, I had to resort to a combination of Polish and gesticulation only once, to ask a man in his 60s where the airport was and how to get there at 3 a.m. It turned out pretty complicated, but fortunately for me and a friend who I was going to meet there, his patience was great. I have always found Czechs to be very kind to strangers, something I see less of here.

    However, I did meet some Praguians (even young) whose English was rather poor, to the point of seriously hindered communication.

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