Learning Polish with quotes

This post was first published on Teach Yourself Languages Online https://www.teachyourselflanguagesonline.com/learning-polish-tips/

While a textbook is a basic tool of any language learning process, it is always a good idea to expand your knowledge and look for additional sources which may be fun. One such source can be quotes by famous people. There are a number of very good reasons why quotes are an excellent way of learning Polish – or any foreign language for that matter.

  • They are short so you don’t have to spend a lot of time on studying them.
  • The vocabulary and grammar are usually fairly straightforward.
  • They can be easily learnt by heart and thus aid fluency.
  • They allow you to expand vocabulary beyond a textbook.
  • They help in gaining knowledge of the Polish culture – i.e. they give information about famous Poles who are the authors of the quotes.
  • Using motivational or personal development quotes can actually help further learning skills.

How can quotes be used when learning Polish?

The quote which I often use in teaching Polish is by Confucius:

I hear and I forget                        Słyszę i zapominam

I see and I remember                  Widzę i pamiętam

I do and I understand                 Robię i rozumiem

I like using this quote to illustrate the Present Tense Rule, a grammatical concept which allows the student to predict the endings in the conjugation of Polish verbs. It’s much easier to learn a quote than to try to remember a grammatical rule. And much more fun!

If you want to find more about this particular example, take a look at this page from polishtutor.org.

What can you actually learn or practice using quotes? 

Let’s have a look at another quote by Confucius:

To study and not think is a waste             

Uczyć się i nie myśleć to starta czasu        

To think and not study is dangerous                   

Myśleć i nie uczyć się to niebezpieczeństwo

You can practise Polish infinitives: Uczyć się and myśleć

You can learn phrases such as: strata czasu waste of time

And finally, you can learn the Polish word for danger: niebezpieczeństwo.

Let’s have a look at another example, a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.:

If you can’t fly – then run,              Jeśli nie możesz lecieć – biegnij,

If you can’t run, then walk,            Jeśli nie możesz biec – idź,

If you can’t walk – then crawl,      Jesli nie możesz iść – czołgaj się,

But whatever you do,                       ale bez względu na wszystko,

You have to keep moving forward!  posuwaj się naprzód!

In addition to learning infinitives, you can practise phrases with ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ as well as conditionals and imperative forms.

But it’s not just grammar or vocabulary you can improve by utilising quotes. Copying quotes in Polish onto sticky notes, index cards or into a notebook is excellent writing practice. You could even use them to create motivational posters or decorative signs to make it more fun. Quotes can also be used as reading comprehension and as a translation exercise.

Find a quote by a famous person (e.g. Winston Churchill) in Polish (you can do that by searching the internet for: Churchill cytaty) – choose one and translate from Polish into English (you can check if you are right by searching for the same quote in English.)

As well as for language exercise, quotes can be used as a personal development tool to gain some additional learning skills. By reading the quotes aloud and learning them by heart you can improve your reading skills, pronunciation and fluency. Studying quotes by famous Poles gives an opportunity to expand the knowledge of Polish culture and history as well as the language. Give it a try with the following quote by the brilliant Polish scientist and twice Noble Prize winner Maria Skłodowska-Curie:

“Niczego w życiu nie trzeba się bać, należy to tylko zrozumieć”

Learning Polish using quotes will give you an endless source of language and will help broaden your vocabulary grammar and language skills. And you can have fun while doing it.

Polish Quotes







Polish tutor tips:

Translate and learn by heart the following quotes:

Odwaga jest dobra,

Lecz wytrwałość jest lepsza.

                                         – anonimowe

Człowiek jest wielki nie przez to co posiada, lecz przez to, kim jest;

Nie przez to, co ma, lecz przez to, czym dzieli się z innymi

                                     – Św. Jan Paweł II

Pesymista szuka przeciwności w każdej okazji.

Optymista widzi okazję w każdej przeciwności.

                                  – Winston Churchill


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