I’ve been learning Polish since the start of this year, and frankly my progress has not been stellar.
The book I was vaguely using was called ‘krok po kroko’ , and I was using it for reasons which are now unclear to me. The astute reader will notice I’m using the past tense here. I’ve put it aside for the indefinite future.
I’m finding Polish is complicated and krok po kroku, while no doubt having various strengths has in my mind one large weakness which is that everything is written in Polish.
This might be helpful in an immersive environment, but here in the UK has left me floundering in terms of speaking.
I’ve decided to change my approach and so I have bought the Assimil Polish course. I’ve never used one of their courses before but have heard of them by reputation.
This particular course consists of 100 short lessons. You do one a day, and at the end of 100 days you have reached an intermediate level in the language. Each lesson is (up until day four ) based around a specific scenario, and has text in Polish and French. (I had to buy the French version as Assimil is a French company and many of their courses only exist in French). There are explanations of how to use the course all over the internet. All slightly different!
I’m on lesson 4 and plan to do one a day for the next 96 days, at which point I’ll review the course thoroughly.
My initial impressions are positive but with some caveats:
I have a basic knowledge of the structure of Polish. Lacking this, the explanations given on each page would not make much sense.
The Assimil course is marketed as being for absolute beginners. Again, without any prior knowledge of Polish (or another slavonic language) the approach used might be confusing.
Each lesson is supposed to take around 30 minutes. I’m not so sure that this is sufficient time.
I’m only on day four and these points may be unfair but my hunch is that some sort of prior knowledge is required (or certainly useful) before embarking on said course.
And back to Surface Language
Learning through short bilingual texts (which is essentially the strategy used by Assimil and other language products) is definitely a good way of improving languages. Assimil, Rosetta Stone and the old FSI courses etc all do the same thing. There are differences in presentation and style but generally you over-learn a relatively small amount of information.
I’m in the process of adding a similar learning mechanism to Surface languages. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but because of the difficulty of obtaining content have decided that (to keep it manageable) :-
1. My bilingual sentences will not be based around specific situations.
2. They will not cover greetings, nor formal/informal use of language.
3. They will only use the singular of the present tense.
4. The texts will be designed for absolute beginners.