Perfect Your Polish Pronunciation Pleasantly

By OptiLingo • 7 minutes read

Polish Pronunciation is Easy to Learn

Polish pronunciation sounds like a mouthful. Even the written forms seem daunting at first. But, it’s not impossible to learn. While it may seem like a challenge, you can master Polish pronunciation easily. As some features of the language make it harder, others are actually quite simple. With the help of these steps, you can procure Polish pronunciation perfection painlessly.

1. Master the Polish Alphabet

The first step of learning how to speak Polish has to be mastering the alphabet. It’s your key to the language. Knowing all the sounds of the Polish alphabet is a necessary step to achieving Polish fluency. As a reminder, here are all 32 letters and sounds of the Polish alphabet. See the examples next to them to practice these letters specifically.

the beauty of warsaw

Polish Letters

Similar English sound

Example

A a
like a in large
aktualny (current)
Ą ą
nasal o (a bit like o in own)
gorący (hot)
B b
like b in bed
brzmieć (sound)
C c
like ts in pits
cięcie (cut)
Ć ć
like ch
mieć (have)
D d
like d in dog
dom (house)
E e
like e in bed
pies (dog)
Ę ę
nasal e
język (language)
F f
like in fingers
fortepian (piano)
G g
like g in go
garnek (pot)
H h
like h in hammer
historia (story)
I i
like ee in meet
ikra (roe)
J j
like y in yes
jajko (egg)
K k
like k in king
kot (cat)
L l
like l in light
ludzie (people)
Ł ł
like w in will
igła (needle)
M m
like m in mother
mama (mother)
N n
like n in not
noc (night)
Ń ń
like ny in canyon
koń (horse)
O o
like o in long
ok(eye)
Ó ó
like oo in wood
góra (top)
P p
like p in people
portki (trousers)
R r
like the Spanish rolled r
roślin (plant)
S s
like s in sound
syty (full)
Ś ś
like sh in sheep, but softer
ślimak (snail)
T t
like t in stop
tata (father)
U u
like oo in wood
ulica (street)
W w
like v in vow
woda (water)
Y y
like i in bit (very short)
myjka (washer)
Z z
like z in zoo
zebra (zebra)
Ź ź
somewhat like si in vision, but softer
źrebak (colt)
Ż ż
like si in vision
żebro (rib)

Listen to the Polish Alphabet

To help you master the pronunciation of the Polish alphabet even further, listen to this video. You can hear all the Polish letters, digraphs, and trigraphs well.

2. Pronounce Polish Phonetically

Luckily, Polish is a phonetic language. This means that every letter is a separate sound. And this never changes. There are no exceptions and no hidden rules to Polish pronunciation. While in English, the “c” in “Pacific Ocean” is pronounced in 3 different ways, that would never happen in Polish. This makes learning Polish pronunciation much much easier.

3. Sometimes Two Letters Are One Sound in Polish

Polish is full of digraphs and trigraphs. These are letter combinations that signal one sound. Every time you see these letters next to each other, you need to pronounce them the following way:

Polish Digraphs and Trigraphs

Similar English sound

Example

ch
ch’ as in the Scottish loch
suche (dry)
ci
‘ch’ as in cheek
ciepło (heat)
cz
‘ch’ as in chalk
czekać (wait)
dz
‘ds’ as in goods
pieniądze (money)
dzi
‘du’ as in duke
tydzień (week)
‘du’ as in duke
niewie (bear)
‘j’ as in job
ul (July)
ni
‘n’ as in onion
średniej (middle)
rz
‘s’ as in treasure
korzeń (root)
si
‘sh’ as in sheep
siedem (seven)
sz
‘sh’ as in shark
proszę (please)
szcz
shch’ as in chair
tłuszcz (fat)
zi
g’ as in Niger
poziom (level)

A perfect Polish pronunciation practice can help you talk fluently.

4. Learn the Rules of Polish Pronunciation

There are a few rules you need to keep in mind when you’re pronouncing Polish letters. Sometimes, minor changes can happen. But, once you master these rules, you’ll surely know everything there is to know about the rules of Polish pronunciation.

  • ą is pronounced as [o] before l or ł. But, with other consonants, it’s pronounced as [ɔn], [ɔŋ] or [ɔm]. (dąb [dɔm] – oak).
  • ę is pronounced as [e] before l or ł. But, with other consonants, it’s pronounced as [ɛn], [ɛŋ] or [ɛm]. (tęcza [ɛn] – rainbow)
  • i isn’t pronounced in ci, dzi, ni, si and zi when there’s another vowel after it. (dziewięć – nine)
  • u: in loanwords, “u” is pronounced like “w” sometimes. (auto [awtɔ] – car)
  • Voiced consonants: sometimes they become unvoiced at the end of words or in clusters.
  • Unvoiced consonants: sometimes they become voiced in a cluster. (przyjazd – arrive)

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Polish Consonant Clusters

Having to pronounce the Polish word “bezwzględny” can send anyone running for the hills. The fact that it means “ruthless” speaks volumes of the language. And there’s plenty more where this came from. Polish is full of consonant clusters. Vowels make consonants flow easily. Without them, speaking Polish can see puzzling, if not horrifying.

But, there’s actually a very simple trick to master Polish consonant clusters: give yourself time. These are hard to pronounce. Don’t sprint, when you’re running a marathon. You have plenty of time to figure out how to form these tricky sounds. If they cause you difficulty, practice them more often than anything else.

6. Start Speaking in Polish ASAP

So many Polish learners leave their speaking practice to the last minute. Those people don’t realize how crucial it is to achieve fluency. Without actually practicing your pronunciation, you’ll never get used to the sounds of Polish.

So, start speaking Polish as soon as you can to perfect your pronunciation. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll reach fluency.

7. Record Your Polish Pronunciation

This trick to learn Polish pronunciation is brilliant. Nowadays, most phones have a voice record function. But, you can also dust off your old camcorder from the ’90s and use that. Record yourself as you’re speaking Polish. Then, listen to yourself on the recording.

You can tell what part of your Polish pronunciation matches how real Polish people speak. And then work on the sounds and words where you need improvement. This method is cheap, easy, and very effective for your Polish pronunciation.

8. Don’t Worry About Your Accent

Every language learner has an accent that reflects their native tongue. As time goes by, your accent will fade when you speak Polish. The more you practice, the more you’ll sound like a local.

So, don’t be afraid of your accent as you start out. Of course, work to minimize it. But, don’t let it give you language learning anxiety. That sabotages your speaking skills and your success. Instead, wear your accent like a badge of honor. You’re learning a foreign language, you’re achieving amazing things, and you’re awesome. Let your accent represent these values.

9. Practice Your Polish Pronunciation Every Day

Practice makes perfect should be your motto when you’re learning Polish pronunciation. It’s the most crucial advice you can get. Practicing your speaking skills, your fluency, and your Polish accent needs to be an everyday activity. Talk to your friends, your pets, or even to yourself in Polish. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.

Again, the only way to achieve fluency is by speaking. A lot. Get comfortable with Polish, and achieve your Polish goals much faster.

10. Use an App That Makes You Speak Polish

Of course, you can make your Polish pronunciation practice easy for yourself. You can use a simple app that gives you tips on how to speak Polish and actually makes you say Polish words out loud. Then, you’ll surely nail your Polish pronunciation quickly. And the best app to give that to you is OptiLingo.

OptiLingo focuses on speaking, not typing Polish. This makes it the best app to master Polish pronunciation. But, it also gives you the best vocabulary you can get. Featuring the most common Polish words and phrases, it teaches you exactly how the locals speak. You can get fluent faster and more effectively in Polish by using OptiLingo!

OptiLingo

Dreaming of learning a new language? With OptiLingo, you can learn 20 languages in just 20 minutes per day. www.optilingo.com - Optilingo

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Dreaming of learning a new language? OptiLingo was founded in 2016 to help people who truly wanted to learn a new language but struggled and failed too many times to think it was possible. With OptiLingo, you can learn 20 languages in just 20 minutes per day.

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