Thursday, 13 September 2007

Tips for language acquisition part II

I said ten, didn't I? Which means I have to think of another five.

6/Osmosis. Go to a public swimming pool. Share water with Polish people and absorb vocabulary through your skin, like a plant.
If swimming pool is (frustratingly) booked up by school parties until July for heaven's sake, sharing a bathtub with a Polish person may suffice. Please ensure compliance with local customs before jumping in with your loofah: do ask politely, unless you are in a very permissive household indeed.

7/ Technology. Get Polish friends and acquaintances to sign up to Facebook. Spy on them and check out what they write on each other's walls. Insist they write to you in Polish and then complain when you don't understand.
Write text messages in Polish because text follows a grammatical structure all its own. I take no responsibility for your ending up at the wrong end of town at the wrong time on the wrong night.
N.B.: you may be advised to change the language setting on your phone for extra vocab on a daily basis. This is a Singularly Bad Idea, and will double your likelihood of inappropriate telecommunications activity quicker than you can say 'three cosmopolitans and a messy break-up'.

8/ Children's radio or indeed literature. Listening to kids' radio is not a bad idea: since it's radio they have to speak in whole sentences; although if you develop a secret appreciation for Polish children's nursery rhymes you may have some trouble hiding it from the people around you.
Books are something of a problem. Even children here use the accusative case (used for subject-verb-object structures e.g. 'But You Promised Me...'). This should not stop you biting the bullet and buying Yet Another copy of 'Le Petit Prince', indispensable companion to language learners everywhere.

9/Real Estate: Rent a flat. Be so odious that your flatmates feel compelled to emigrate to London. Find yourself obliged to find someone to rent the other room. Very quickly learn words for bills, utilities, not included, floor space, no loud sex on a Tuesday and so on.

And Finally:
(Don't worry, there'll be more... )

10/ Travel. Go to another Slavic country. Understand Nothing. Suddenly realise how very very comprehensible Polish really is. Find that you are completely fluent and insist on speaking it to Everyone, even though it is clearly a completely separate idiom. Every time you pass a cafe or street sign, point and say: "ooh that's so similar to the Polish..." - even if it isn't, just so you don't feel quite so stupid. Notice with regret that your new-found skills evaporate as soon as the train crosses back over the border.

Happy learning!

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