So I wrote to my Polish teacher in Polish without a dictionary (so as to put any mistakes on full display) and asked if I shouldn't be busted down to a more introductory class. (I later sent this letter to a Polish friend, so that he could explain to me all the mistakes.) However, my teacher thought I should go into the most advanced class, so to 3.2 I went last night.
It was good to be back. I had missed 3.1 so as to save the money towards my Polish trip, and I discovered that I really missed the classroom routine. Yesterday's class was a review of 3.1, so there were a range of exercises, beginning with a conversation about the Christmas holidays and what dishes we found most delicious.
I prepared for class by writing a composition about my adventures in Poland. This forced me to "think in Polish" for two hours before class began. Although I have read Polish--emails and letters mostly--I haven't spoken a word of it since I bought a festive bottle of krupnik from a polski sklep on Christmas Eve.
However, it became clear to me in class that although I can get words down on a page relatively quickly and can understand most of what the teacher says, accessing Polish words I have known for years and speaking them is really my weakest skill. I mean, we're talking forgetting how to say, "Nie rozumiem" ("I don't understand"), which was on of the first phrases I ever learned.
Another difficulty is repeating multisyllabic words the teacher has just said. It's as if I have a verbal form of dyslexia, for I mix up the order of the letters. I do this in English, too, driving B.A. to distraction by calling the Artisan Roast coffee company "Artisian Roast" and the Penhaligon perfumers "Penhaglion." This makes me feel a bit better about my most obvious and public Polish errors.
My tangled tongue made my classmates laugh last night, and so I suppose my most notable improvement is that for once I did not feel angry and embarrassed. And when our task was to assemble scraps of a conversation in a shoe store, my seatmate and I finished it first. Although I may sound ridiculous, there is nothing wrong with my reading and deducing skills.
Oh dear. I wonder how best to train my brain to faster recall and my tongue to tripping out the syllables in the correct order. Perhaps I should start chatting to a tape recorder. Although certainly not ideal, that would be better than nothing.