I wish it was the first book I had bought for my husband but at the time he started learning Polish it hadn’t even been published yet. Its full title contains the phrase “an innovative course for beginners”. The blurb is partly accurate – it is definitely a book for real beginners. As for “innovative”, it is a big word, tends to be overused and it is an overstatement here. There is nothing in this book that English teachers have not seen before: funny cartoons to introduce a unit, pictures and photos being part of exercises, and a big diversity of tasks. But then this is exactly why at the time of its publishing in 2011 it really stood out among other self-study books for learning Polish and what makes it pleasant to spend time with.
Polish Doesn’t Bite leads students through 13 vocabulary-based units (family, work, sport and leisure, time and numbers, food, home and everyday activities, shopping, school, nature, travelling and health), apart from the first one which focuses on the pronunciation and the second one which is devoted to greetings and introductions. Grammarwise, it covers the basics: personal and possessive pronouns; nominative, instrumental, accusative and genitive of singular nouns, adjectives and some pronouns; modal verbs, adverbs of frequency and prepositions of places; basic constructions, such as there is/there are there isn’t/there aren’t. There are different verbs introduced – by which I mean verbs of different inflection patterns – but they are presented only in the present tense. The last unit of finishes at page 134 – so I think there is enough action happening at a manageable pace if you are a real beginner, grammar is not overwhelming, students can learn lots of vocabulary at leisure and get used to those grammar forms that are presented and practised in many exercises. It might also work for someone who got stuck somewhere in a more material-packed self-study book and needs revision or motivation. I definitely like the proportions between the reading, grammar explanations and exercises – it is mostly the latter.
Considering that Polish Doesn’t Bite is meant for absolute beginners, the obvious disadvantage is lack of a CD with recordings of anything, especially the dialogues. Publishers have created a website where you can find recordings for the first unit in the book – pronunciation and the alphabet. It might be a starting point. Another solution is provided by a free online Polish text-to-speech tool Ivona. I believe beginners will actually benefit from re-writing words, sentences or whole dialogues that they would like to hear, that is – if they are patient enough. Luckily, dialogues in this book are short, and as I have said before, I think it is in good proportion to the practical part.
Have a look inside the book and read what the publisher and author say about it:
With the course POLISH doesn’t bite! you:
– study the language in an active way: from zero to A1 level,
– study useful vocabulary in an easy to learn way,
– train your grammar knowlege,
– learn ready-made useful phrases,
– learn contemporary everyday Polish language.
POLISH doesn’t bite! is designed for all beginners who want to study the basics of the Polish language and to be able to communicate effectively.
This book (152 pages) contains over 100 of the most popular topics, short dialogues or texts with translations, grammar in a nutshell, a set of essential words and phrases, exercises and short texts about Polish culture. At all times easy-to-acces mini dictionaries can be found in the margins and at the end of the book you will also find a a Polish-English dictionary.
GRATIS recordings – audio examples of Polish pronunciation can be heard on our web site www.slowka.pl/wymowa.