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Polish, Comprehensive: Learn to Speak and Understand Polish with Pimsleur Language Programs Audio CD – Audiobook, Nov 1 2004
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About the Author
Dr. Paul Pimsleur devoted his life to language teaching and testing and was one of the world’s leading experts in applied linguistics. After years of experience and research, Dr. Pimsleur developed The Pimsleur Method based on two key principles: the Principle of Anticipation and a scientific principle of memory training that he called “Graduated Interval Recall.” This Method has been applied to the many levels and languages of the Pimsleur Programs.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Pimsleur, while very expensive, will definately have you speaking and understanding the language. Each lesson consists of thirty minutes of audio to listen and repeat. By the end of the series of 30 lessons, I am able to communicate simple needs in Polish, such as where to find places, simple directions, paying for items; and to engage in simple conversations such as how many children do you have, where do you live, where do you work, what to eat, drink, etc. I'm also able to to communicate what time it is, and how to communicate when I don't understand what someone is saying in Polish.
The main thing missing from the Pimsleur program, in my opinion, is the lack of written materials. There is a small book included with the alphabet and pronunciation guide, but that is not enough to make the leap to actually reading or even recognizing the written form of the words you are speaking in Polish. The other drawback is that once you finish the Comprehensive Polish, there is no next level to go on to with Pimsleur. I am left at this place where I can converse somewhat, but I cannot read or write any Polish.
Overall, I would rate Pimsleur Comprehensive Polish I as excellent for developing basic pronunciation and conversation skills. Currently I'm searching for the next step. If anyone else out there knows any useful programs to follow Pimsleur maybe they can post them.
The course is both very fast and very slow. It’s very fast in that the Polish words, phrases and example conversations are spoken at full speed so you need sharp ears to keep up, and the expectation is for you to reply at full speed too. In practice, until you really get the words coming automatically, you will have to pause the CD to give yourself time to think, but that’s OK. The advantage is that it does get you used to hearing and talking at full speed. The exception is when a new word is introduced when it does get said slowly, syllable by syllable, but after that it’s at full tilt. Generally this works well, though I did find the Polish for ‘something to eat’ a big of a tongue twister and had to repeat that lesson before I got it.
However, the overall pace of the course is fairly slow, mainly because they do all the repetition for you, e.g. the first 10 minutes of each 30 minute lesson is a revision of the stuff from the previous lesson. This means that you won’t want to listen to each lesson more than once, or maybe twice (not if you value your sanity). However, all this does mean that you really do get the stuff drummed into you and find the words tripping off your tongue nicely. (I think the course is partly aimed at corporate customers. If you want your employee to learn Polish, you can get them to do the course, and after they’ve worked through the 32 lessons you can be fairly sure that they will have learnt the material).
Overall the course is well structured introducing useful words and phrases in a logical order. There’s no discussion of ‘grammar’ (cases declensions and that sort of stuff) but they do make sure you understand what all the words in each phrase mean so that you not just saying phrases parrot fashion, but learn to be able to construct you own sentences.
Given that Polish is such a difficult language to get started with (few familiar words, difficult to pronounce, highly inflected and irregular grammar) these CD’s give you a useful toehold. If you enjoy learning tables of declensions and conjugations and irregular endings then fine, but if your eyes glaze over at this sort of thing then this course if a good place to get started. Then if you want to seriously get to grips with Polish you can move on to something else. (There no Pimsleur Intermediate Polish course).
The net effect is that you get to learn a small amount of useful Polish very well, such that you feel confident about using it. The course is expensive, but you probably won’t want to listen to it again, so why not sell it on when you’ve finished with it and recoup some of the cost?
Gripes: There’s no written version of the materials. While learning aurally is fine, knowing how words are spelled gives you another handle on remembering them, and with Polish you need all the help you can get. Also there’s no good way of quickly revising the material since you wouldn’t want to have to listen through the whole lot all over again.
Having used the Michel Thomas Spanish course it was interesting to compare the two approaches. Michel Thomas also does pure audio courses, but not a Polish one (otherwise I would have bought it). Michel Thomas crams a lot more material onto each CD’s than Pimsleur so you do need to go over them several times to really learn the stuff, which is fine. Like Pimsleur he carefully builds up language constructs so you develop the ability to construct you own sentences. He does a lot more explaining of grammar (without resorting to declension tables etc.) and when if comes to pronunciation he tells you exactly which bits of the pronunciation really matter. Pimsleur relies on pure listen and repeat which is fine if you’ve got a good ear but might mean you’re getting some important detail consistently wrong. Overall Thomas feels more fun, while Pimsleur is a bit of a slog. I think the Pimsleur stuff has stuck better, but that maybe because the Pimsleur approach forces you to spend a lot of time on each bit of material, and if I’d spent the corresponding amount of time on the Thomas CD’s I’d have remembered it just as well.
THE PIMSLEUR APPROACH:
-- Paul Pimsleur incorporated the concepts of "graduated interval recall" and "anticipation" into his language learning method. These concepts are at the very core of his approach to language learning and they account for its success and its justified popularity.
-- This is an all "AUDIO" programme that seems to be directed at the basic communication needs of a business traveller.
-- It is built around a very limited "core vocabulary" that one would most likely meet in common encounters.
-- Grammar is not specifically discussed and, although not so-stated, students are expected to deduce the essential structure of the target language through the thoughtful absorption of the examples.
-- The only written material is a so-called "Reading Guide" that does not correlate well, if at all, to the audio lessons.
-- It works!
-- You really WILL learn to manipulate the "core vocabulary" of the target language and you will RETAIN what you learn.
-- You will ENJOY the learning experience and you will develop a sense of SELF-CONFIDENCE with the basics of the target language.
-- The Pimsleur is an excellent STARTING POINT for learning the phonetics of a new language.
-- In my experience, the method works well for languages that are reasonably close to English; that is, the Romance and Germanic languages. As these languages share numerous cognates, have similar sound systems, and have comparable - but not identical -- rules of grammar, one can deduce much of the target language's structure through thoughtful analysis.
-- Even the combined Comprehensive series (I, II, III, III+ or IV) contain very little vocabulary. In order to acquire a functional vocabulary, even only that required by a traveller, you will have to purchase some other language learning method and continue your learning.
-- The lack of any meaningful written material or any substantive discussion of grammar means that you will have to buy a separate dictionary, a book of verbs, and a grammar and derive your own glossary and your own course notes.
-- The entire Comprehensive series (I, II, III, III+ or IV) comprises some 53 or 64 CDs, or approximately 50 to 60 hours of lesson material. However, despite its truly remarkable strengths, the material runs like one long, uninterrupted lesson. Since there is neither an obvious or natural end to the series of lessons, nor is there a recapitulation, reviewing the material represents somewhat of a challenge. I adopted various techniques such as: (a) working with the introductory dialogues only, or (b) reviewing every third lesson completely. It would be much easier if the Pimsleur course included one final lesson per Comprehensive Level that recapitulated everything up to that point. However, the publishers, Simon & Schuster, are not open to any discussions on changing their product.
-- For languages that are somewhat "distant" from English, the method shows some of its gravest weaknesses.
-- The Polish language has SEVEN CASES, the proper use of which requires the modification of the endings of nouns and adjectives across the cases and this in conjunction with the three genders and in the singular/plural. In my view, the Polish sound system and the variability in pronunciation by the average speaker render it quite impossible for a user of the Pimsleur approach to differentiate the these endings and to apply them reliably.
-- The VERBS in Polish have a structure that differs remarkably from that of the Romance and Germanic languages. In my view, without a grammar and a book on verbs, the user of Pimsleur Polish will not be able to predict how a new Polish verb should be used.
I TRULY LIKE the Pimsleur Approach. However, I believe that it is NOT well-adapted to languages that are somewhat distant from English. I was tempted to give TWO STARS to Pimsleur Polish, but gave THREE for its overall quality.
1. For the traveller who does not want an indepth knowledge of the language, but stills wants to feel reasonably autonomous, I suggest Colloquial Polish: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
2. For the more serious student who wants an excellent grammar-based language course, I suggest Spoken World: Polish
3. For the VERY SERIOUS student who wants U.S. Marines-like DRILLS, DRILLS, DRILLS, I suggest Beginning Polish,. Be sure to buy volumes 1 and 2, as the second volume contains drills that are directly related to the first volume. The LINK to the FREE AUDIO files is included in my review of this text.
These tapes go over word pronunciation on a syllable-by-syllable basis that makes it easy to learn and remember the words. I did find myself listening to the tapes again and again to make sure I had everything correctly.
I finally made my trip to Poland last month and did find the words I had learned in these tapes very helpful. I only wish there were more tapes in the Polish series!