11 lutego 2011

Gratifying Language Lessons II: Practice

Last post I talked about a simple method I had employed to work on specific topics in language learning. My quest was to find a pair of glasses in Warsaw. I outlined my method, but didn't write about the specific language I learned and practised. Time for that now.

Anyone learning from dialogues in textbooks knows how predictable 'textbook' conversations are. It may seem obvious but one needs to remember that the person you are talking to (unless they're in the classrom!) won't follow scripted dialogue like in the language textbooks. Don't be surprised when people don't 'know their lines' in real life.

Glasses / okulary are, as in English, plural. They are also of neuter gender in Polish. Here are some of the words and phrases I armed myself with for the day (in no particular order):
  • Szukam okularów / I'm looking for glasses
  • okulary / glasses
  • oprawki / frames
  • soczewki / lenses
  • klasyczne / classic
  • Moja recepta jest minus pięć i minus pięć i pół. / My prescription is minus five and minus five and a half.
  • proste zauszniki / simple arms
  • raczej metalowe / ~more metal than otherwise
  • jake firme soczewki? / Which company makes the lenses?
  • można? / may I?
  • za duże / too big
  • za małe / too small
  • nieźle / not bad
  • przęmyslę / I'll think about it
  • może / maybe
  • niewygodne / uncomfortable
  • wrocę / I'll be back
  • wrocę z żoną / I'll be back with my wife
  • proszę odłożyć / please hold
  • za ciężkie / too heavy (weight or appearance)
  • te są najleprze / these are the best
  • za bardzo kanciaste / too angular
  • pocieniane / thin (lenses)
I kept my ears open for new words and picked up a couple I remember. I have to write them down quickly or I forget them nearly instantaneously. I got the sales staff to help me write a couple of them down. As I've said before, they always seemed very happy to take a moment to help me out.
  • matowe / matte (colour)
  • za szeroki / too wide
  • za bardzo błyszczące / too shiny
After day one, I went home and learned some more phrases I had discovered I was missing:
  • Noszę okulary codziennie przez cały dzień. / I wear glasses all day, every day.
  • Często oglądam telewisję na leżąco. / I often watch TV laying down. (whilst demonstrating sideways TV viewing posture)
  • Czy są takie czarne? / Do you have these in black?
Of course my conversations were riddled with errors, but I seemed to get what I wanted in the end. I quickly learned it is unnecessary to repeat the apologetic "Niestety nie mowię dobrze po polsku" / "Unfortunately I don't speak Polish well." Speak like I do and people know that right away! Also, this sentence serves as an invitation to those capable in English to deal in English, which I was trying to avoid. After visiting probably 10-15 shops, I only dealt with one woman in English. A pretty fair average. With one woman, when I ran out of Polish words I just spoke English. She seemed to understand me well enough and spoke to me in Polish. This sounds very strange but was more or less functional.

Mistakes? All day I had been saying "Moja recepta jest minus pięć i minus pięć i po." I should have been saying "pół." What else did I get wrong? What other phrases would you have told me to write down on my cheat sheet?

I found a lot of good shops. I also found a few that I wouldn't even go into. Like many other types of shops in the city, it is amazing how some really feel like stepping twenty years back in time. There are a few shops I would return to if shopping for glasses again:
  • Duo Optyk
  •  Firma Optyczna Marek Jakubowiczul
  • Bogdan Tuszyński Optyk
    • Al. Jana Pawła II 26
    • dobryoptyk@wp.pl
    • helpful staff, had just what I was looking for
I ended up buying some frames in 'Flexon' material from the shop on Jana Pawła II. It's surprising how fast they were ready (one day), but one must remember that in all the shops I visited, you are buying the actual frames you try on. The only thing that needs to be delivered and cut is the lenses. In Canada, it seems to be pretty standard that you wait about 5 days for a new frame to be delivered to match the demo frame you tried on. This way you can custom order colours, temple sizes, etc. In Poland you just have to be careful of the condition of the frames you're buying - some have been on the wall a while and have taken a bit of a beating. I'm still getting used to the fit of my new frames but I'm happy so far.

When it came to choosing lens options, I brought in my wife to help. The salesperson was helpful but spoke too quickly for me to take chances misunderstanding her. A good translator comes in handy! I ended up getting quality frames and quality high index lenses with all the coatings for about one third to one half of what I would expect to pay in Canada.

While out exploring, I found another good English bookstore, where I picked up what looked to be the last copy of "301 Polish Verbs." Check out Księgarnia Co-Liber, Pl. Bankowy 4 (www.coliber.waw.pl). More on my new book another day.

1 komentarz:

  1. A very interesting blog on the perils and pitfalls of glasses shopping in a foreign language. I have to say, I wouldn't dare entrust a weighty topic like that without having the wife about to correct any errors. You don't want to come out looking like Elton John!


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