communication is key when you need something done; learn about where, how, and when to communicate below.
- do Polish people speak English?
- what about German?
- what are some basic Polish phrases?
Polish is the sole official and primary language of Poland, and is currently spoken by around 50 million people worldwide.
It is a Slavic language, in the same language group as Czech, Slovak, Serbo-Croatian or Russian. Therefore,
it shares many similiarities with those languages in regard to grammar, pronounciation, and vocabulary.
Below is a map of where Polish is spoken today:
useful Polish phrases
The phrases below will be useful to anyone traveling to Poland, and you will be much more welcome
anywhere you go after a simple "dzień dobry".
- dzień dobry - hello
- do widzenia - goodbye
- dziękuję - thank you
- proszę - please
- przepraszam - sorry
- ulica - street
- pomocy! - help!
do Polish people speak English?
The answer is "it depends who", as well as "it depends who you ask". We must say we have quite a pessmistic outlook on the subject.
those who do
In general, all younger people in cities, even minor ones, speak English well enough to help you out. Workers servicing customers tends to speak English in larger cities.
Airport personnel, security personnel, border guards, doctors, policemen, bank workers, and anybody in the hospitality industry also speaks English well
enough to get by. Moreover, highly-qualified workers tend to speak English quite well.
those who don't
The older generation, especially outside of cities, and even the younger generation in small villages can't communicate in English very well, often at all. Low-level workers,
such as cashiers, construction workers, bus drivers etc. can also often not communicate in English outside of the vocabulary essential for their job.
Anybody not particularly mentioned in any of these categories has an approximately 60% chance of being able to help you in English.
More optimistically, Education First's English Proficiency Index lists Poland as a "high" proficiency country.
German is quite widely spoken in Poland, especially in Western Poland. It is taught in schools from the age of 10 to the age of 18, but can be substituted
with Spanish, which it is more often than not. You will likely not be able to get by with only German and no English, though. Due to the low utility of the
language in everyday life in Poland, most Poles forget most of the language by the time they're 20.
The good news is, however, that, since Germans are the most populous tourist group in Poland, many menus and signs are translated into German.
Spanish and French
Though Spanish is taught as an alternative to German, it is not yet widely spoken in Poland. Nothing is translated into Spanish and you will not
be able to get by with Spanish at all. The same is the case with French.
Russian is in a convenient spot in that a Polish person has a good chance of understanding Russian spoken very slowly. Many older people
speak Russian - it was taught in schools throughout most of the 20th century.