After I had spent a year in France, I could say a lot of stuff in French. For example, I could talk about la libre circulation des marchandises (the free movement of goods). Also, I could explain the role of La Cour internationale de Justice (The International Court of Justice) within Public International Law.
I couldn’t, however, say things like “hey, your shoe strings are untied!” or “I could really go for some crêpes right now!”.
In other words, I hadn’t learned the more colloquial, everyday French – the part of the language that allows you to understand people on the street. Sure, I was still able to somewhat express myself in French – but all within narrow limits.
I realized that I didn’t want that to happen with Polish.
Which is why I keep putting emphasis on colloquial Polish. Before I invest time and energy in learning some vocabulary, I make sure that I can really need the stuff in everyday life.
I do this by choosing my language sources accordingly.
I don’t hesitate to buy and read lowbrow magazines. A weekly like “Polityka” will provide you with a lot of eloquent expressions, but if you restrict yourself to intellectual stuff, you will inevitably sound awkward in ordinary social situations.
A lot of Polish Expressions and everyday conversations can be found online. I compiled a list of different sources that I found to be both entertaining and helpful:
http://kobieta.wp.pl/ – One of the first results if you type the words “dla kobiet” into Google. Has some articles of the kind that you would expect from a women’s magazine, along with some self-tests.
http://bash.org.pl/latest/ – I learned a great deal of English by reading bash.org, and I don’t see why this wouldn’t work with Polish, too. Especially since it contains highlights like these:
<sacrum_profanum> kurwa jak pomysle ze mam wstawac w niedziele o 6 rano to chuj mnie strzela normalnie
<Ja> a po co tak rano?
<sacrum_profanum> do roboty kurwa
<Ja> a gdzie pracujesz?
<sacrum_profanum> ksiedzem jestem
http://www.opensubtitles.org/pl/search – As you might already know, foreign movies don’t really get dubbed into Polish. Instead, they invented the use of a “Lektor”. This basically means that one guy will read all the dialogues in Polish while you can still faintly hear the original sound in the background. In other words, avoid this stuff at all costs (especially all love scenes) if you cling to your sanity.
However, there are also subtitles in Polish that allow you to just read the translations of films and series you probably already know. One resource for this is the above-mentioned link. If you want to try a Google search, go for “napisy po polsku“.
There are also some genuinely Polish series and films. A Google search for “scenariusze” (“scenariusz” means “script”) gives you some results for classical Polish films such as “Rejs” or “Seksmisja“.
There is also a quite popular “serial” called “Świat według Kiepskich“. It is a sitcom centered around a somewhat dysfunctional family that lives in Wrocław. The setting is thus quite similar to “Married… with children” (in Polish “Świat według Bundych“). You will find some memorable quotes at Wikiquote and in the according forum:
http://demotywatory.pl/ – Everyday wisdom in the form of Polish demotivationals.
http://peb.pl/ – A Polish forum with discussions about just everything.
http://www.joemonster.org/ – A satirical site with a wide range of subjects.
And, if you are a linux user: here is a collection of Polish fortunes.
All those links are great sources for Khatzumoto’s ‘10,000 sentences’ system which he explains in great detail here.