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Polish - Absolute Beginner Questions. Study plan.


fullyalive 6 | 13
7 Mar 2011  #1
Hello all,

I am trying to learn Polish all from scratch and all by myself. I just started out a couple of days back. I read up a few things here and there on the internet and downloaded some study material. I also made one Polish speaking friend... I guess that's pretty alright for a start.

I have chalked out a study plan for me. It would be great if you share your opinion about it. So here it is -

Step 1 - Learn the alphabet

Step 2 - Learn the sounds associated with the alphabets(vowels, semi-vowels, consonants and affricates)

Step 3 - Learn to read and pronounce basic Polish from Phrasebooks.

Step 4 - Read Polish literature and look up the words in a dictionary. Listen to the Radio or watch Polish videos.

Step 5 - Study Polish grammar(Cases and so on).

(Logically, the step 5 should appear before or with step 4, but I wrote it that way since I learnt that there are more exceptions than rules in Polish grammar.)

And I request you to PM/email me, if you're a Polish speaker and interested in making a new Hindi/Marathi/English-speaking Indian friend. :)

Thank you and dzień dobry.

Naomi.
puella 4 | 172
7 Mar 2011  #2
Step 5 - Study Polish grammar(Cases and so on).

I'm Polish and I believe that it should be step 4.

(Logically, the step 5 should appear before or with step 4, but I wrote it that way since I learnt that there are more exceptions than rules in Polish grammar.)

You won't understand much if you don't know basic grammar.
cinek 2 | 337
7 Mar 2011  #3
Step 4 - Read Polish literature and look up the words in a dictionary. Listen to the Radio or watch Polish videos.

Step 5 - Study Polish grammar(Cases and so on).

(Logically, the step 5 should appear before or with step 4, but I wrote it that way since I learnt that there are more exceptions than rules in Polish grammar.)

I suspect in most cases you won't even be able to find the word in the dictionary if you don't know how to make the primary(dictionary) form of a word from the inflected one you'll see in the literature. This is why you really need at least some grammar before you start reading anything.

Cinek
scottie1113 7 | 898
7 Mar 2011  #4
This is SO true! As one of my books (Cześć, jak się masz?) says: Gramatyka jest waźna.

I started with Polish in 4 weeks (that's a laugh!), then got the abovementioned book, 301 Polish verbs, and Hurra!!! po polsku.
pgtx 29 | 3,159
7 Mar 2011  #5
I'm Polish and I believe that it should be step 4.

i agree... reading Polish literature should be the last step, when you already understand what's going on...
alexw68
7 Mar 2011  #6
Double agree. Being an ambitious sort of chap when I was first learning the language I tried it the other way around for a month or two. Epic fail. But once I did it in the order you propose, reading the A-level set texts did do a lot for me afterwards (ie from about 6 months in).

(I leave it to others to say whether my Polish is intelligible enough for the above to be relevant here ;))
Bzibzioh
7 Mar 2011  #7
Looks like you are fishing for compliments, dear :) So here it comes: your Polish is excellent. Keep working on it though.
alexw68
7 Mar 2011  #8
Moi? I have no illusions about the task ahead. Ćwiczenie uczyni mistrza, and all that. That said, a compliment from your good self, is, of course, one to savour ;)
OP fullyalive 6 | 13
8 Mar 2011  #9
I suspect in most cases you won't even be able to find the word in the dictionary if you don't know how to make the primary(dictionary) form of a word from the inflected one you'll see in the literature. This is why you really need at least some grammar before you start reading anything.

That makes sense. I had Sanskrit at school. It has 8 cases. So I understand what you mean.

Thank you for your valuable comments, everyone.

Naomi.
Patrycja19 63 | 2,700
8 Mar 2011  #10
Polish Lessons Units

we have our own here, this can be helpful for you.
cinek 2 | 337
8 Mar 2011  #11
That makes sense. I had Sanskrit at school. It has 8 cases. So I understand what you mean

Suprisingly, it may help you in learning Polish :-) Both Polish and Sanskrit are so called 'satem' languages (a subgroup of inde-european langs) and have many similar features. Also some vocabulary may be suprisingly similar.

Cinek
gumishu 11 | 5,012
8 Mar 2011  #12
well I don't actually call 'gęś' and 'hamsa' (as in parama-hamsa) extremely similar though they are from the same indoeuropean root (for english speakers 'gęś' is goose - and when you look at German 'Gans' you really get a word very similar to the Polish one)

also I don't think many people would associate 'wilk' and 'vrka' (or was it 'vrkah') instantly though they mean the same in the languages in question and are just different evolutions of their ancient root

and these are actually the closest the two languages can get

ok I am just showing off :)
RealPolish - | 11
8 Mar 2011  #13
What are you have to do is listen to Polish everyday a least one hour. Easy stories for children are very good for beginners. When you start understand more you can take something for teenagers. Listening and reading are the best way to learn any language. Trying to memorizing grammar rules is the worst thing you can do. If I've done any English mistakes - I'm sorry about that. But I'm Polish native and I've learned English for one year. My method was (and still is) listen to English every day. I never learn grammar! Now I can communicate in English pretty well. If you want to get this same level in Polish, just do this same! ;)
asokolowski
8 Mar 2011  #14
301 Polish verbs

I started with Polish in 4 weeks (that's a laugh!), then got the abovementioned book, 301 Polish verbs, and Hurra!!! po polsku.

I also bought 301 Polish verbs, and I like it very much.

Beginning Polish from the Yale language series is amazing, but kicks my butt because it moves ahead quite quickly

I try to bridge the gap with the workbooks from Dana Bielec, and my husband checks my work for me. There are answers in the back, but I find an explanation of why I'm wrong is better than just the right answer.
Anna86 - | 7
8 Mar 2011  #15
Easy stories for children are very good for beginners.

I cannot agree with that. Stories for children might seem to be easy, but they're not. They might contain quite complicated grammatical structres and advanced vocabulary. What is more, this vocabulary can be completely useless for adult beginners - diminutive forms and archaisms are not good things to start with. The fact that the subjects are easy, doesn't mean that the language is easy as well :)

Beginners should start with vocabulary that can be used for everyday communication. Read, listen and repeat simple, situational dialogs. I also don't believe that we can avoid learning grammar. Unfortunately, we are not children anymore....And Polish is not English - some things will never be picked up naturally or it might last ages! It's better to rationalize the fact that we need to conjugate verbs then try to find this out from context. The effect will be the same, but the first way is much faster. As I said, we are not children, so it's better to use our intellect then wait for the intuition to do the work for us :) Some basics will simply make the whole process easier.

And one more thing - don't learn the language "in silence". Read aloud, talk to yourself and find someone to give you some feedback. Don't read about Polish alphabet, but listen and repeat single words and phrases with the same sound. And ask someone if your pronunciation is comprehensible enough.

Otherwise, you will not have enough self-confidence to use the things you learnt in practice. Self-study books can be good to revise information, but they tend to be over-packed with theory. So be careful with that.

Pozdrawiam
Ania
cinek 2 | 337
8 Mar 2011  #16
and these are actually the closest the two languages can get

I don't know Sanskrit and what I wrote was only what I read somewhere. Here are some more examples I found here
https://books.google.pl/books?id=McB_3UZ4YlIC&pg=PA773&lpg=PA773&dq=polish+to+sanskrit&source=bl&ots=Jnb41XSorK&sig=29gnLJM92xNbj8-wVpquG06sha8&hl=pl&ei=O5Z2Td_0K83XsgbWlZHBCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result#v=onepage&q=polish%20to%20sanskrit&f=false

bhrata - brat
bać się - bhayate
czynić - cinoti
dawać - dadati
drzeć - drti
iść - eti
kaszleć - kasati
lubić - lubhyati
pić - pibati
pisać - pisati
pływać - plavayati
siedzieć - sadayati
szyć - siviati
świecić - svetia
uczyć - ucyati
umierać - marate
etc.

If these are real Sanskrit words (let Naomi confirm), don't they look similar?

Cinek
scottie1113 7 | 898
8 Mar 2011  #17
In my opinion. this won't work in Polish, because the grammar is much more complex than in English. If you don't have at least a basic knowledge of Polish grammar, you won't be able to understand a lot of what you hear.
cinek 2 | 337
8 Mar 2011  #18
Stories for children might seem to be easy, but they're not

Try this one:
youtube.com/watch?v=10CPM3j5VqI
gumishu 11 | 5,012
8 Mar 2011  #19
cinoti

with one caveat - sanskrit -ti suffixed forms are not infinitives but rather third person present tense forms AFAIK still they do resemble Russian 3rd person present tense forms a lot

and as far as I can tell the pisat' stem didn't mean to write in Proto Indoeuropean but rather to draw or to paint so I don't believe pisati means 'he writes' in sanskrit

still I have to admit cinek that the source you linked is pretty impressive when it comes to the number and real similarity of the verb roots
OP fullyalive 6 | 13
10 Mar 2011  #20
If these are real Sanskrit words (let Naomi confirm), don't they look similar?

Yes, they are all Sanskrit..
RealPolish - | 11
10 Mar 2011  #21
And Polish is not English - some things will never be picked up naturally or it might last ages! It's better to rationalize the fact that we need to conjugate verbs then try to find this out from context.

Let me be clear, I think grammar is not very important for beginners. I think when you speak, you have to do it automaticly rather then looking for grammar. Trying memorizing grammar rules (don't forget about exceptions!) don't work in learning any language. You don't learn speaking by studying grammar.

I don't think that Polish is so hard language to learn, it is superstition. I'm native Polish speaker, and I supose that we really want the foreigners to think so.
JonnyM 11 | 2,621
10 Mar 2011  #22
I think grammar is not very important for beginners. I think when you speak, you have to do it automaticly rather then looking for grammar.

Very much so.

Trying memorizing grammar rules (don't forget about exceptions!) don't work in learning any language. You don't learn speaking by studying grammar.

In my experience, doing that can create a block in people's minds.

I don't think that Polish is so hard language to learn, it is superstition. I'm native Polish speaker, and I supose that we really want the foreigners to think so.

Very, very true. Just start speaking, don't worry about mistakes and the language will come!

RealPolish, your post is one of the most sensible I have ever seen here on this subject.
cinek 2 | 337
11 Mar 2011  #23
I think grammar is not very important for beginners. I think when you speak, you have to do it automaticly rather then looking for grammar

I think this will only work when you are exposed on the language all the time, e.g. living in Poland or at least having someone to listen and talk to everyday. It won't work when you wan to learn by yourself from books or movies only (which, as I understand, is Naomi's case).

Cinek
Anna86 - | 7
11 Mar 2011  #24
I think grammar is not very important for beginners. I think when you speak, you have to do it automaticly rather then looking for grammar. Trying memorizing grammar rules (don't forget about exceptions!) don't work in learning any language.

Memorizing rules is ineed not a good idea. But trying to understand the rule helps a lot. I think that conscious practice is much more beneficial then thoughtless repeating. Everyone wants to use the language automatically, but words and phrases are used in various contexts and in completely different forms...It's good to be aware of that. Fluency will come anyway.

Polish is not difficult - it's just different from English and learning it might require different methods.
RealPolish - | 11
11 Mar 2011  #25
I'm sorry but I don't agree with you. In my opinion methods of learning all foreign languages are the same. I don't think that every single language or language family require different method.

Of course grammar is important but not for beginners. For beginners is important everyday listen to a lot of target language.
Joydee - | 2
11 Mar 2011  #26
Our situations are different because I'm actually living in Poland but here's my contribution anyway: I started with the basics - greetings, helpful phrases, relevant vocabulary and the 'to be' verbs. These things have been enough to help me communicate in simple situations when I'm out and about. Now that I'm getting comfortable with these things, and the pronunciation, I'm starting to learn about the cases.

I think grammar is not very important for beginners.

I agree. Trying to learn the grammar right at the beginning would have been WAY too overwhelming!

Keep looking for those native Polish speaker friends! They're invaluable. They're the best source of information on how people speak in everyday situations and can help you with your pronunciation. I think listening to Polish radio and tv/movies is a good idea too. I find it quite motivating when I can understand what is being said - even if it's only single words or phrases.

Just start speaking, don't worry about mistakes and the language will come!

Good advice! The more you speak it, the more you'll get it! In my experience, if you have the chance to use Polish in Poland, the people here will appreciate your effort and won't care if you make mistakes.

Good luck and enjoy - it's a fun language! :)
Anna86 - | 7
11 Mar 2011  #27
I started with the basics - greetings, helpful phrases, relevant vocabulary and the 'to be' verbs.

That's a very good start - words and phrases that can be used in typical, basic and predictable situations. But you even confirmed that you learnt grammar and that it helped you to communicate in simple, everyday situations: learning "ja jestem" "ty jesteś" and "on/ona jest" is learning grammar...You learnt how to conjugate an irregular verb, and you probably didn't pick this up listening to sitatuonal dialogs but learnt it from a graph...This was probably much faster. But maybe I'm wrong :)

Studying and memorizng rules might be overwhelming and totally unnecessary at any stage, but grammar or some kind of "systematization" of facts can make life easier:) I think it's natural, and it doesn't matter if we are beginners or advanced learners.

In my opinion methods of learning all foreign languages are the same. I don't think that every single language or language family require different method.

Yes, maybe "method" is not the right word here. I just meant that we need to pay attention to different things while learning languages...E.g. in English I need to focus on reading and pronunciation more than in Spanish. In Polish we need to change the form of words, but we don't need to worry about word order, stress or articles :)

And method of learning is a highly individual thing :)

Pozdrawiam

Ania
Leopejo 4 | 120
11 Mar 2011  #28
I'm sorry but I don't agree with you. In my opinion methods of learning all foreign languages are the same. I don't think that every single language or language family require different method.

Maybe all languages from the same family.

Of course grammar is important but not for beginners. For beginners is important everyday listen to a lot of target language.

If you listen to tons of native material you will understand next to zero and you won't progress. That's why they suggest "n+1" or "comprehensible input": listen or read material that is only one step more difficult than your current level and you will progress fast.

Grammar is not a monster - on the contrary it is very useful, especially for beginners. We are not children: from one side, we have qualities and knowledge that they don't have (we can read, we have been in school, we already know one or more languages,...); on the other we might have lost some of their ability to "intuitively" learn languages, and we are not actively immersed in the language - with "actively" I mean your mum teaching you, repeating, correcting, encouraging.

Grammar often makes it easier - I don't mean to learn by heart all declinations and conjugations, but to understand why something is like it is and to have a clearer picture of the language.

As an example, take the popular course called Pimsleur. They avoid on purpose all grammar terms, but in doing so they have to take plenty of difficult steps to explain even the most basic concepts of the language. It would be much easier, and faster to learn, if they'd allow some basic grammar, as in "what is a case".
cjj - | 281
11 Mar 2011  #29
I'm using this range of books (with a teacher) and like them very much

polonia.com/HURRA-PO-POLSKU-1-STUDENTS-WORKBOOK-P11859.aspx

They seem to suit the way my mind works.
To be specific, I've noticed my memory is more visual than aural ... I learn better when I can work through exercises on paper, with a cd as a backup. (My husband, on the other hand, prefers to focus much more on listening)
Leopejo 4 | 120
12 Mar 2011  #30
I'm using this range of books (with a teacher) and like them very much

Those are used here too (Italy) at the university, but as you mentioned, they pretty much require a teacher.


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