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.
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!
If, however, you are actually looking to learn the Polish language, and you are (like I was) someone who knows NOTHING about Polish . . . I can confidently say that there is NO EASIER PLACE TO BEGIN THAN PIMSLEUR. Seriously, if you don't want to read the rest of this lengthy review, just save yourself the trouble and buy Pimsleur.
WHY START WITH PIMSLEUR:
Don't waste your time buying a Polish language instruction book. You will be introduced to pages upon pages of alphabet rules that will make your head spin (Polish has 9 extra letters to the alphabet, as well as additional strange letter combinations like rz, dzi, etc. ). Even if you could trudge through that, the pages that follow contains tons of new vocabulary and complex grammar tables that will make you want to give up. It is way too overwhelming for a beginner. Even "Polish for Dummies" I think is far too advanced for beginners. Unless you enjoy frustration, avoid the Polish courses that use books or textbooks . . . until later on in your learning.
What about Rosetta Stone? Well, it starts out by showing a picture of a boy and a girl, along the spoken/written Polish, which is "chłopiec" and "dziewczynka", and let me say it only gets worse from there. Expect in just a few short lessons to see words changing all the time. Even if you can miraculously identify "pies" and "psa" as both being the Polish for "dog", good luck knowing when to use each variation. And there is usually many more than two variations as Polish is a highly inflected language. "Two" for instance could be dwa, dwie, dwoje, dwóch, etc. The program is admittedly fun, but expect to be lost and frustrated in short order. It is most definitely NOT the place to begin. You need to learn some grammar rules (from the books I said to wait on) before Rosetta Stone is a useful program.
This really leaves two reasonable courses: Pimsleur and Michel Thomas.
Michel Thomas is a great course, but I recommend Pimsleur FIRST. The reason is that Michel Thomas covers 4x-5x the amount of material that Pimsleur does, and after doing Pimsleur with its gradual reading lessons, you will be able to make excellent use of the Michel Thomas track listing notes.
ABOUT PIMSLEUR POLISH:
Pimsleur introduces each new word slowly . . . syllable by syllable. Then . . . after the word is built up, it is spoken at full speed after that. Material is introduced in a way that it does not feel overwhelming. You get just a few new words each lesson, and sentences to "repeat after me". Due to its interval repetition, the material is taught so that just when you start to forget something, it is reinforced. It uses humor to keep you engaged. One of the highlights to the course is that you don't have to do any thinking, the Polish comes out of your mouth spontaneously. HONESTLY, if you are looking for the EASIEST entry point into Polish, get the Pimsleur Polish.
Some minuses: You might feel you need more than one day to do a lesson, but don't feel bad. In my case, sometimes it would take me 4 days before I could move on. But then again, I am a true language idiot, so maybe it'll be easier for you. AND Yes, there will be a few times later in the course when the narrator will say "pay attention to the ending", and you won't be able to distinguish these endings. Don't worry about it; it is not crucial at this stage. Just do the best you can. Polish is a difficult language and a lot of your questions, concerns, and misunderstandings will get ironed out in follow-up courses in Polish language instruction (e.g. Michel Thomas).
ABOUT THE VARIETIES OF PIMSLEUR POLISH FOR SALE:
All the Polish CDs on Amazon by Pimsleur are, in fact, THE SAME; you just get a different total number of lessons. You get 30 of them with Comprehensive I. See Polish, Comprehensive: Learn to Speak and Understand Polish with Pimsleur Language Programs.
Quick & Simple Polish, Basic Polish, and Conversational Polish are just the first 8, 10, and 16 lessons respectively of Comprehensive I.
If you know you really want to learn a lot of the language, just buy the Comprehensive I; however, if you are unsure, you can buy one of the smaller sets . . . good news is that if you do that and later decide on Comprehensive I, you can buy at a rebate that's included in the smaller set purchase.
No Comprehensive II yet (as of January 2014), but they will make it eventually if enough people buy Comprehensive I and pester the Pimsleur publishers via email about making it.
MY RECOMMENDED SEQUENCE TO LEARN POLISH:
1. Pimsleur Polish Comprehensive I: See Polish, Comprehensive: Learn to Speak and Understand Polish with Pimsleur Language Programs
2. Michel Thomas Method--Total Polish (formerly known as MTM Beginning Polish): See Total Polish with the Michel Thomas Method (Michel Thomas Series)
3. Michel Thomas Method--Perfect Polish (formerly known as MTM Advanced Polish): See Perfect Polish with the Michel Thomas Method
4. Polski Bez Problemu +, Levels 1-3, by Supermemo (make sure to get the + version so the course is an interactive computer driven course; it makes a HUGE difference): Do a web search on Supermemo World EU, because it is made by a company based in Poland and is therefore often out of stock on Amazon. See Polski Bez problemu!+ Elementary Level A1-A2 (Book & CD-ROM) for my review of Level 1.
4B. Colloquial Polish (can do at the same time as Polski Bez Problemu +, Level 1): See Colloquial Polish: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
If you are itching to do Rosetta Stone, the earliest I recommend beginning this, is after finishing Michel Thomas Method--Perfect Polish, i.e. STEP 4 in my list. But honestly, I think "Polski Bez Problemu + " is the better program by far., having worked through them both.
Things like Polish for Dummies, Spoken World Polish, Complete Polish, Polish in 4 weeks, etc. I personally see as more difficult, both in terms of quantity of vocabulary and complexity of grammar introductions, than the sequence I've recommended.