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Interview: Przemek Kocur (Poland)

Let's meet Przemek Kocur from Poland

Could you tell us about yourself, including the languages you know?

My name is Przemek. I am from Poland. My mother tongue is Polish. My biggest passion is learning foreign languages. I got attracted to them in high school. I am an autodidact. I am lucky because I have an opportunity to use some of the languages at work (I am responsible for international relations in a town hall).

I speak Polish, English, and Spanish. I can also speak – but I prefer to say I learn Portuguese, Italian, French, Turkish, Arabic (Modern Standard) and Hindi.

I love traveling, reading books, watching movies, meeting new people. I run two blogs, one about learning languages and the other my traveling experiences.

Why do you think languages are important to you?

The truth is I just love learning languages – just without a cause. But seriously…  It gives me much satisfaction and fun too while traveling – to be able to communicate with people I meet. It opens many doors, gains a more friendly approach. It also enables me to read books in the original. The content is the same, I know, but it's not the same when you read a translation.

Which language are you learning and how do you learn?

I learn all of my languages continuously, some of them on and off. My current priority is Arabic (MSA) and then Turkish. I would like to learn much more. But I am not the type to learn some survival phrases, I want to reach at least a basic fluency. That's why I had to resign or put aside some of the languages I would like to learn, eg. Swahili.

I am an autodidact. First I use “teach yourself” kind of books. At the early stage of my studies, I try to listen to audio material or watch TV, even if I can’t understand much. It helps me to get used to the flow of the language, accent, etc.  It also helps me stay motivated – when I see that I can pick up more and more words and whole sentences.

I try to do many grammatical exercises and I try to learn as much vocabulary as I can. My method is also something I call “walking like…” or “talking to myself”. I talk to myself as if I was booking a hotel room, buying food, talking about my day, etc. It forces me to use the language actively.

For over a year now, I use Google+ hangouts – to practice speaking. I also write posts in several languages for my blogs – to practice writing.

Could you tell us which language is the most challenging for you to learn and why?

It’s not even Arabic, but Turkish. It surprised me. Turkish seems very easy, it’s very logical and nearly without exceptions and yet I am not able to get over the hump I came at. I guess this is due to the fact that the structure of sentences is quite different than in the languages I already know.

Which language is the least challenging for you to learn and why?

I think Spanish because it is my all-time favorite. I traveled to Spain several times. The love for this language and country makes it very easy. I also passed the C2 exam.

What is the next language for you to learn and why?

Swahili. I promised myself not to give it up, and to return to it. I want to learn at least one colloquial version of Arabic. I thought about Egyptians, but my friends convince me to go for Levantine.

What is your advice to other language learners?

My advice: start using the language as soon as possible. Read short articles, watch TV news, movies or videos on the Internet. But first of all, try to talk! Find people – natives or learners like you. Even if you cannot say much in the beginning, you will see that people to whom you will be talking will help you with their advice and will offer you the encouragement you need to carry on.

If you have any questions or opinions for Przemek Kocur, leave your comments below.

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