I have been terribly lazy about improving my Polish skills since the end of July. Maybe reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader in Polish does not strike you as lazy, but reading is my strongest language skill. My absolute weakest--even weaker than speaking--is listening. Essentially I've been treading linguistic water instead of practising my crawl.
So this morning while preparing an apple crumble for tonight, I listened to Lesson One from Real Polish, and it is at a perfect level for someone who has studied Polish grammar for some time but has slacked off on the listening and speaking. The lesson consisted of the teacher reading a simple story from a third-person perspective, and then from a first-person perspective, and finally asking questions about the story. Believe it or not, I still could not get all the words because I have not yet read the transcript.
Along with "Save half of everything you ever make", "Don't wreck your listening skills by zoning out in class" is among my top tips for children.
It came as a relief that I could understand most of the first ten minutes of Piotr's September 1 update without reading the transcript. One of the worst things about the first few years of night school Polish class was feeling like my ears were plugged. There was one beautiful evening when I returned to class after a trip to Poland and for the first time ever my teacher sounded as clear as a chime tinkling in the breeze. Sadly, that wore off as the weeks wore on.
In the end I had to quit night school because I am on duty until 7 or 8 at night. Eventually I got a tutor, and she was a great help until Mr Mortgage demanded our disposable income. Until June my primary goal was to be able to speak Polish to guests at Polish Pretend Son's wedding. (I did not actually do this very much, as most of the people I met at PPS's wedding were fluent in English: instead I spoke Polish to ticket sellers, shopkeepers, cab drivers, servers, and hotel staff.)
I also have a goal--more of an attainable dream, really--of speaking Polish so well I can interview a Polish bishop without difficulty. Perhaps I should sit down with Polish Pretend Son and come up with a workable plan. Although not a professional linguist, PPS is finishing an English-language PhD in Philosophy and I'd like to know how he developed the specialist terminology to do that.
What language-learning tips do you have?