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How I Learned Polish from Listening to My Grandparents Speak: Immersion

Updated: May 23, 2023

Learning a second language is an important skill that brings many benefits. It opens doors for career opportunities, expands cultural knowledge, and enhances communication skills. However, learning a language can be a challenging and time-consuming process. While there are many ways to learn a language, one of the most effective methods is immersion learning. In this article, I will share my experience of learning Polish from my grandparents through immersion and how it helped me understand the culture, customs, and traditions of Poland.

Immersion Learning - What Is It and How Does It Work?

Immersive learning is a method of language learning that involves surrounding oneself with the language and culture. It is a form of experiential learning that enables learners to acquire a language naturally, as they would do in their mother tongue. Immersion learning can take many forms, including living in a foreign country, attending language schools, or working with native speakers. It is a highly effective method of language learning because it provides a context for language use that promotes fluency, retention, and comprehension.

One of the most significant advantages of immersion learning is that it provides an opportunity to learn a language in a real-world context. Rather than relying on textbooks or classroom instruction, learners are exposed to the language in everyday situations, such as shopping, dining, or socializing. Immersive learning fosters a deeper understanding of the language, as well as the culture and customs associated with it. It also helps learners develop the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of settings, from formal to informal.

My Family Background and Their Polish Roots

My family has a rich cultural heritage that includes Polish ancestry. My grandparents, who were born and raised in Poland, are fluent in Polish and spoke it regularly in my home, mostly to me father. My mother and father would often read Polish picture books to me. I quickly understood a lot of basic nouns in Polish. I was fascinated by the language's melody and rhythm, and I would listen intently to the adults conversations, even though I didn't understand everything they were saying. As I got older, I began to recognize some of the words and phrases they used and started to piece together the meaning of their conversations.

My grandparents were proud of their Polish roots and often shared stories about their upbringing, traditions, and customs. They would also prepare traditional Polish dishes, such as pierogi, kielbasa, and bigos, which were delicious and made me feel connected to my heritage. Through their stories and food, I gained a deeper appreciation of Polish culture and a desire to learn more about the language.

Listening to My Grandparents Speak Polish

One of the most significant benefits of growing up in a multicultural family was the opportunity to learn Polish from my grandparents. They spoke Polish fluently and would often switch to Polish when the conversation was very intense (moving very quickly) or when it mostly concerned the Polish speakers in our home.. At first, I found it frustrating, but over time, I began to enjoy the challenge of deciphering their conversations.

As I got older, I started to participate more in their conversations and began to ask questions about the language and grammar. They were patient with me and encouraged my curiosity, which helped me develop my language skills. I also started to watch Polish movies, listen to Polish music, and read Polish books, which helped me expand my vocabulary and comprehension

Tips for Learning a Language Through Immersion

If you are considering learning a language through immersion, here are some tips that may help:

  1. Surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Listen to music, watch movies, and read books in the target language.

  2. Practice speaking with native speakers. Find language exchange partners or attend language classes.

  3. Be patient with yourself. Learning a language takes time, and you will make mistakes. Embrace them as part of the learning process.

  4. Immerse yourself in the culture. Learn about the customs, traditions, and history associated with the language.

  5. Set realistic goals and track your progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.

Other Ways to Practice and Improve Language Skills

In addition to immersion learning, there are many other ways to practice and improve language skills. Some of these include:

  1. Using language learning apps like Duolingo or Babbel.

  2. Reading books, newspapers, or magazines in the target language.

  3. Watching TV shows or movies with subtitles.

  4. Attending language classes or hiring a tutor.

  5. Joining language exchange groups or online communities.


Learning Polish from my gra

ndparents through immersion was a valuable and rewarding experience. It helped me develop my language skills, cultural knowledge, and appreciation for my heritage. Immersion learning is a highly effective method of language learning that provides a context for language use that promotes fluency, retention, and comprehension. If you are considering learning a language, I encourage you to explore immersion learning and to embrace the challenges and benefits that come with it. Learning a language is not just about acquiring a new skill; it is a journey of self-discovery and cultural appreciation.

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