To B1, or not to B1, that is the question

Should I take a Polish language exam?

I have only been learning Polish properly (with a teacher) since we moved to Poland in 2017. I was having a one hour lesson each Saturday and I had homework to do also. Although, Kinga and I have been together for a lot longer than that, I never really actively learned Polish before 2017. I had a few books, some CD's and I would learn the most basic phrases and words. I had been to an evening class for a few months but that was a very basic level and I didn't learn too much. My weekly one hour lessons in Poland really helped me to improve, especially as my teacher would base my lessons around real life situations such as being at the airport, talking about family and so on. I estimate that I probably went from very basic level (less than A1) to around about level A2 when I was learning in Poland. I could talk, I had a large vocabulary but my grammar was poor so I probably had no chance of passing any exam. I was very happy though, that I could order in a restaurant, have a conversation with my Mother-in-law and understand what people were talking about. My lessons in Poland finished when we came back to England in July 2019.

Once we came back to England, I looked for a teacher locally but couldn't find anyone. I ended up having online lessons which were good but didn't feel that comfortable and sometimes the website would work, sometimes it wouldn't. I stopped these before Christmas 2019 and then had no more lessons until I was introduced to my current teacher. Recommended to me by a friend, my teacher is based in Wrocław, so we had arranged for a week of intensive lessons around Easter time. COVID-19 hit the world and our travel plans were stopped so we had to begin lessons online which started in April. Two lessons per week plus homework and I honestly feel that I have made decent progress. Sometimes we will talk for half an hour with no English at all and I won't even realise.

The point of the post is to discuss Polish language exams (or any other language). I am the sort of person that likes to work towards a goal, plus I think that if I booked an exam, it would give me some extra drive to work even harder. Just like learning grammar, some people do not see the point in taking an exam and I understand this. I just think I'm working hard trying to learn this language so it would be nice to be rewarded with some kind of recognition. I brought this up in conversation with my teacher and we had a good chat about it - basically she said that I could probably take the A2 level CEFR exam now. Probably I would need some exam preparation training but she believes I could pass A2 this year. Or, she told me, that if I wanted to skip A2 that she believes I could be good enough to take the B1 exam early next year. My teacher asked me, "do you need to take an exam, or do you just want to"? I have no need to take the exam, I don't need a job in Poland and I won't be applying for citizenship - I just want to.

So that is the current plan. I'll continue with my twice weekly lessons, with homework, reading and social media posts in Polish. Then later in 2020, we will start to work towards preparing for the exam. There is only one place to take the official exam in England which is in London and I believe they only do them twice per year, so I need to keep my eye out for the next available dates.

I'm interested to know what other learners of Polish think. Would you like to take an exam or do you need to take an exam because you plan to stay in Poland long-term? Whatever your thoughts are on exams in foreign languages, I wish you the best with your continued learning.

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