For Foreigners

Mów po polsku! Tips on how to learn Polish

So you’re in Poland and you’re feeling daunted by the very idea of learning how to speak Polish. No surprise there. It IS daunting. The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is get started now. Don’t be like me and put it off for 3 years. The sooner you start, the better you’ll feel about yourself and the more independent you’ll be. Here are some tips for how to speak Polish better and faster.

UWAGA: I’m no perfect Polish speaker, but I can hold conversations and express myself decently, perhaps on the B1 level. These are just the things that worked for me and thus can recommend to you.  

Should you buy books?

You could go the traditional route and buy a book and do some self-study. That never worked for me. You can buy all the books but they’re not going to absorb into your brain through osmosis. You have to actually use the language…and that’s the problem 🙂 It’s scary. The words are hard and the sounds are weird and everyone is listening to you. I KNOW. But if I went on live TV and spoke Polish (wtf was I thinking?!) then you can do it in a real-life situation. 

Get yourself a teacher.

Ok, I know, you’re living in Poland, so you can speak with anyone. Maybe you even have a Polish partner. But get real, you probably don’t speak Polish much with them and anyway most people can’t tell you simple things like the difference between dość and dosyć, that you’re using ruchać when you should be using ruszać, or what the hell “jak najbardziej” means. It’s worth it. I have my lessons via Skype and it’s super convenient. If you need someone, let me know and I’ll hook you up 🙂 If you’re a straight up beginner, even group lessons in a school would be helpful because they probably start from the very beginning. Or Duolingo, or something similar.

Spend as much time with non-English speaking people as possible.

You need to spend hours, days, weeks using only Polish. Full immersion for long periods of time is the only way you’re really going to manage. If you have a job in a Polish company, you should manage quicker than those of us who speak English all day for a living. My parents-in-law don’t speak English and they spend a lot of time with us, especially since my son was born. That has been the single best thing for me in my adventure with Polish. So go on a trip and only use Polish, whatever. When I first met my husband, we would text in Polish and when we went to hiking together, we’d try to speak only Polish, and it gave me a good confidence boost. 

Watch/read things in Polish.

Try finding a podcast you like or a TV show, even if it’s something silly. Probably if it’s not very intelligent, the language will be easier. I also watch English movies/tv shows with Polish subtitles and I learn a lot from that as well. 

Do things yourself.

I know it’s hard to resist, but at some point, you have to stop asking someone to help you because your partner will go nuts, and they can’t be with you all the time. The more you have to go out and figure out how to do something only in Polish, e.g. open a bank account, buy train tickets, or even order a coffee, the better you’ll remember because YOU actually had to do it and prepare yourself for the conversation. And you’ll feel confident that you managed something on your own. That always gave me more motivation. Then you can start considering expert level tasks like surviving a party while only speaking Polish (the worst).

Eventually you’ll get to the point where you can send a letter at the post office without preparing for 20 minutes or ask people questions without your heart beating out of your chest. It’s always going to be a struggle, unless you’re one of those particularly talented people (I’m not and I’m also a wuss). I really do believe in just putting yourself out there and talking as much as possible. Don’t be like I was, get started now! 

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  • Reply Don Ricardo 7 April 2019 at 15:02

    Great article and thanks for sharing. I totally recommend the Michel Thomas Method, especially for a language as challenging as Polish. You will gain elementary proficiency in very short order, and be speaking unbelievably well in just a few hours. My Polish friends are impressed, and it will come in highly useful when I go to teach English in Poland soon. Check it out!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 May 2019 at 11:54

      Hm that’s very interesting! Thanks for this Don 🙂

  • Reply Jake 2 May 2019 at 03:33

    Have you tried Duolingo and compared it against the actual experience of learning Polish?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 May 2019 at 11:50

      Yeah it’s totally different. It’s much easier to learn when you’re actually using the language with real people, you know?

  • Reply Bernie Franklin 9 May 2019 at 16:41

    Hey Leah,
    My name is Bernie and I live with my Polish wife in Gorzów Wielkopolski and I agree with you that actual speaking and learning Polish is best when using it with real people because pronunciation is almost critical. While my Polish is rudimentary and can carry on basic conversations you really have to make an effort to speak Polish on a regular basis and not be afraid to speak. The learning process is difficult at best but using different materials help so I think Duolingo can help as long as it’s not your only source to learn a language. I’ve also look at your Probytu Karta information it’s excellent and well written; thanks for the info.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 5 July 2019 at 07:49

      Hey Bernie – yeah man it’s hard work! But that’s what learning a language is! Everyone who speaks another languages gets that – but Polish might be a little extra hard 🙂 The more input, the better the output!

  • Reply Clara 27 May 2019 at 15:29

    Hi Leah! Do you have any recommendations for Polish tutors? both online or offline? I am about A2/B1 level 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 5 July 2019 at 07:46

      Hi Clara! So sorry for the late response – but yes! Please message me at and I’ll give you the email of my teacher 🙂

  • Reply Gary 21 June 2020 at 23:47

    Hi Leah, my wife and I will be moving to Wrocław on August 2nd and I am currently looking for private lessons. I would consider myself a beginner, I know many words but I cannot string them together into full sentences at this time. Is there anyone that you recommend in Wrocław?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2020 at 12:21

      Hi Gary! I have a teacher online who I can recommend you! What do you think about that?

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