Going back to my roots to learn Polish
Alex Koszykowska is the newest member of the EuroTalk team, joining us last month as our new sales and marketing assistant. In today’s post she explains why she’s learning Polish.
It is said that a million people in the UK class Poland as their ancestral home in some way. This is the case for my family; my Granddad came to England from Poland during the second world war (my Gran also came over to England but from Russia – she and my Granddad met when she was a nurse in the army). Over the years my Gran has adapted to my Granddad’s ways, and will now only speak Polish or very basic English to us. Growing up, my dad and his brothers were all brought up speaking Polish as their main language, with English as their second. Even today they can slip into Polish very naturally – leaving my sister and I completely oblivious to what was going on around us. My mum and aunties all learnt to speak Polish – mainly to get brownie points from my Gran; but really it is only my sister, my cousins and I who cannot speak Polish in our family.
This means regularly at our family’s favourite restaurant (which of course is owned by a Polish family), we would be pretending to understand what everyone was talking about.Whenever we entered the hotel, I would always greet the family with ‘Cześć’ (hi). My sister and I have also mastered how to say ‘Dziekuje ci bardzo’, which means ‘thank you very much’ (and rolls off the tongue much more easily then you think it would). We have managed to get away with this throughout our childhood. However, now I feel a certain responsibility to carry on this tradition in our family. Working for EuroTalk has shown me that language learning isn’t as intimidating as many people make out.
Part of the reason it is so enjoyable to be learning Polish is that I love everything about my Polish roots. From the tradition of whenever we go to my Gran’s she hands us a pack of Katarzynki (which are like soft biscuits with a ginger flavour in the middle and chocolate around the outside) to our rather impossible to say, spell and write surname (with a lot of people finding the change from ‘a’ if you’re female to ‘i’ if you’re male for the last letter of our surname confusing!).
The four words I do know (five if you include dobrze – ok) make my Gran so happy; she loves seeing us take an interest in our Granddad’s language. Even basic language skills are so important and can make a huge difference. My family heritage is my motivation to learn more Polish, which is why the uTalk app is so fabulous, as it is designed so you can learn how to say key phrases. For example ‘proszę mówić wolniej’, meaning ‘please speak more slowly’, which is vital to know in my family!
Are you interested in learning a language, or do you have family members who are bilingual and you’re keen to join them? Try our uTalk app to get started!