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Easy texts to practice Polish sentences/reading/vocabulary?

Tempus 1 | -
14 May 2012 #1
Hi everyone!

Could you point me towards some texts/stories that could be read/understood by a beginner. Even 2-3 year old bedtime stories could be ok, as I imagine I could learn a lot from them. So far I'm practicing words/vocabulary from whatever flip cards I can find, but I'm guessing a little more structure could help.

Thanks in advance!
catsoldier 62 | 595
15 May 2012 #2
Try Noddy on you tube, there is other children's stuff also: Mały Einsteini below is probably better than Noddy.

If you search around on you tube I am sure that you wil find more.

Your local library will also have children's books in Polish.
Tim Bucknall 7 | 98
27 Jan 2013 #3
i find the cartoons and kids section in Angora goes down quite easily :-)
i wish you the very best of luck my friend, its been lots of Fun getting to grips with Polish

i get the papers once a month and spend the whole month on them at my leisure and i know i'll always be able to go back over anything later
4 Oct 2017 #4

Improving my Polish - through reading


I'm currently learning Polish, and I find reading Polish is a way that really works for me. I'm probably at elementary level so finding material that isn't too difficult is quite a challenge. I've tried reading a few children's books but they often have tricky phrases that are too difficult and that tends to discourage me.

So, could anybody help and point me in the directions of some good low-level reading material please?

DominicB - | 2,709
4 Oct 2017 #5

Read a Polish translation of a book that you have already read in English. I started with Lord of the Rings, for example. Harry Potter is another good choice. Children's' literature can be quite difficult because of the reason you stated. By reading a book that you already have read and know, you will not feel as anxious and lost.

Underline ALL the words you don't know or not completely sure of until you have about thirty words underline, then stop and look up those words in the dictionary, and reread each sentence with an underlined word until it sinks in. The go back to reading until you have another thirty words underlined. And so on.
Ziutek 9 | 160
4 Oct 2017 #6
I started with the novels of Dan Brown. His unbearably trite prose style has the advantage that, translated into Polish, it is very easy to understand.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
4 Oct 2017 #7
While it all depends entirely on your level, when I was still in the intermediate learning phase, my teacher assigned us several short stories by Elzbieta Orzeszkowa. Thoroughly enjoyable and with a wealth of literate vocabulary for someone already possessing a reading knowledge of Polish:-)
KoszalinChris - | 5
4 Oct 2017 #8
@DomincB - thanks for the idea, sounds like it's worth a go!

@Zuitek - you're Dan Brown is utter tribe, but his style or someone's similar might be easier to learn with indeed, thanks.

@Lyzko - I'll look up some Elzbieta Orzeszkowa soon, thanks!
Paulina 13 | 3,365
4 Oct 2017 #9
Dominic, books like "The Lord of the Rings" are too difficult for beginners, I think I was already after my FCE (and I passed it with an A) when I decided to read "The Two Towers" in original and I had to have a dictionary by my side for most of the time for all the vocabulary describing weaponry, armour and some more archaic words and maybe other stuff too. Also bear in mind that English is easier to understand, Tolkien tried to learn Polish and apparently he decided that it's too difficult lol (and the guy was a philologist, who invented his own languages). A learner of Polish at an elementary level would get easily discouraged. Harry Potter series would be a better idea, but I think he should start with something way easier and shorter.

KoszalinChris, have you thought about reading comic books (or graphic novels) in Polish? My brother read American comic books in original, you can learn a lot of everyday language in this way (his English is probably better than mine :)).

Here you have something for starters:
Polish version:
English version:

I've also found stories for children online but I don't want to get a warning from mods for "exessive linking" so I'll send them to you in a private message (let me know if they're easy enough).

Lyzko, Orzeszkowa is a 19th century writer, I think it would be better if he started with something written in a more contemporary language...

KoszalinChris, once you'll feel that you could read books in Polish maybe you could try books by Joanna Chmielewska - she wrote for children and youth. Her stuff is fun to read. I remember reading a kind of youth criminal serie, one of the books was "Zwyczajne życie" ("Ordinary Life") - it was interesting and funny. You can buy it at Empik internet store but I'm sure it's also available at any library.
4 Oct 2017 #10
Read a Polish translation of a book that you have already read in English.

I do think that's a really good idea but as Paulina has said, Lord of the Rings is way too difficult for beginners. I can't believe you started with that book! After learning Polish for a fair few years now, I wouldn't pick it and I don't think it would translate too well either.

If not childrens books, the problem would be finding material the OP has read that is also well known enough to be available in Polish.
4 Oct 2017 #11
Orzeszkowa is Eliza not Elżbieta. It's a bit outdated but since she wrote in 'pozytywizm' the language is not too difficult.
Chmielewska is great especially 'Wszyscy jestesmy podejrzani' and Wszystko czerwone'. Very funny.
From English translations I would choose, already mentioned 'Harry Potter' or some of the Stephen King's books. Both widely available in Poland
4 Oct 2017 #12
I would choose, already mentioned 'Harry Potter' or some of the Stephen King's books

I really don't think they would be suitable for someone who says he is at elementary level, they are more for advanced learners tbh.
4 Oct 2017 #13
True, however it's hard to find something suitable.
The only solution I could find (besides really easy toddler books with hard pages and already mentioned comic books) is textbooks for elementary schools.
4 Oct 2017 #14
textbooks for elementary schools.

It's a good idea. I'm not sure what else to suggest because childrens books are the obvious choice. If he is struggling with tricky phrases in those, something more advanced will be out of the question.
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Oct 2017 #15
childrens books are the obvious choice.

It might seem "obvious". but I found children's literature was often harder than adult literature. "Niewiarygodne przygody Marka Piegusa" was about the tenth book I read, and it was packed with school slang, alcoholic slang, criminal slang, police slang and stage-entertainer slang and other non-standard expressions that I couldn't find in my very comprehensive dictionary. "Przyjaciel wesołego diabła" was about my twentieth book (after reading all nine of Sapkowski's Wiedżmin books), and it was also a humbling experience. Children's literature presupposes a very intimate knowledge of the language.

On the other hand, the easiest book I read was a translation of Agatha Christie's "Halloween Party". It was about the sixth book I read, and after having plowed through Lord of the Rings. I hardly needed the dictionary. I was underlining one word a page or less.

When I was learning German, the main thing that helped me started speaking was Asterix. I read every single one of them available at that time, because the school library had the complete set. Asterix is also available in Polish.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
4 Oct 2017 #16
Many thanks, Jaskier! Apologize for the silly typo:-)

@Paulina, your being a native Polish speaker, I certainly wouldn't contradict your totally valid opinion regarding Orzeszkowa. However, often times in a given language, slightly older texts provide a richness of vocabulary usually not found, certainly in contemporary writing. The latter is a hasty generalization, I will admit, and yet, as with movies, the hyper-new stuff is so lacking in content compared with earlier work, that merely to learn contemporary language at the expense of developing a larger vocabulary, seems a waste of time. As long as this is not done at the exclusion of "classic" fiction, for instance, I certainly would have no problem reading both a modern author such as Roziewicz or Mrozek alongside a 19. century writer, such as Orzeszkowa or Sienkiewicz.

In English as well, I'm sure (having noticed your truly excellent written English!), that reading Mark Twain's novels in addition to his essays doubtless affords both the native English as well as Polish learner of English the opportunity of absorbing first-class literature. Hemingway, John O'Hara and similar short-story writers wrote great narratives, but for someone from Poland, say, learning English from present-day Harlequin romance fiction, and the like, reading these stories on generally such a low level, might as well not read anything.

Hate to come across as the perennial snob, but I think it's always better to shoot a bit higher than too low.
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Oct 2017 #17

Really, classic literature is boring as hell to read until you are advanced enough to appreciate the style. I didn't get to that point until I had read twenty-five or so books, when I read Lalka and was able to appreciate the language.

Reading Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn comes with the same problems I had with Marek Piegus: lots of slang and non-standard expressions that a learner won't find in the dictionary.

As for range of vocabulary, nothing even comes close to science fiction and fantasy literature. I owe a great debt to Andrzej Sapkowski for hugely expanding my Polish vocabulary. The English equivalent would be Jack Vance, who wrote with an enormous range of vocabulary.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
4 Oct 2017 #18
Perhaps, DominicB.

I would like to add though, that your reaction is typical of the way in which anything classic aka pre-1960, has been demonized and made to seem uninteresting!

This is all liberal bilge and part of this persistent, if insidious, myth that anything which smacks of bourgeoise convention and standard, is somehow "over the hill", even worse (heaven forbid), "irrelevant" and ready for the junk pile!!

When I was attending an average US high school, we were all encouraged to develop a literate vocabulary, be it in English, French, German or Spanish.

Just because something's new, doesn't necessarily mean that it's good.

Thinking people learned to reject much of what was considered gospel of the Woodstock, "Folky" Generation:-)
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Oct 2017 #19
that your reaction is typical of the way in which anything classic aka pre-1960, has been demonized and made to seem uninteresting!

I went to Latin school and have an undergraduate degree in classical languages and spent this morning reviewing my Latin, so I am certainly not demonizing classical literature. It's just not suitable for learners at the early stages.

I really regret that my high-school German course focused on 19th century literature. God, it was boring. Soul-numbingly boring. I wanted to shoot young Werther and put him out of his suffering, for all our sakes. And the poetry! I would rather get a root canal than endure 19th century German poetry at that stage of language learning again.

At least Latin had Caesar, who was cool and interesting. Something a teenage boy could sink his teeth into. And Tacitus was even cooler. Even the Aeneid was cool. You barely noticed that it was poetry. Same with Ovid.

But Romantic Era German literature, no thanks! I would have learned a lot more, a lot quicker, and with a lot more enjoyment if we were reading contemporary popular young people's fiction, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
jon357 71 | 20,189
4 Oct 2017 #20
I started with Lord of the Rings, for example. Harry Potter is another good choice.

Far too difficult for learners.

Underline ALL the words you don't know or not completely sure of until you have about thirty words underline, then stop and look up those words in the dictionary,

No. Koszalin Chris should look for a book where he is unfamiliar with around ten words per page. He should concentrate looking up those necessary for the text to make sense.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
4 Oct 2017 #21

oldies but goldies

My favourite is milcz i całuj hehe. Why they didn't ask for help a native Polish speaker?
DominicB - | 2,709
4 Oct 2017 #22

If you are an absolute beginner, then you will have to have a good-sized basic vocabulary and a good command of grammar before you could tackle even the simplest reading material in Polish. Unlike in English, different grammatical forms of the same word can look very, very different in Polish.

Go to this site:

Click on "First year Polish course", and then on "Lessons" on the page it takes you to. That is by far the best textbook for leaning Polish for English speakers. The course has short readings in each lesson, graded and annotated according to level.

"Polish Reference Grammar", and you will download by far the best grammar of the Polish language that is available in English. It will answer practically all of your grammar questions.

From the same page, you can also click on "Polish Reference Grammar", and you will download by far the best grammar of the Polish language that is available in English. It will answer practically all of your grammar questions.

And it's free, courtesy of the author.

After you finish that course and read over the grammar, you will be prepared to tackle real literature, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. With some difficulty at first, but you will quickly improve.
KoszalinChris - | 5
5 Oct 2017 #23
Good morning,

I must be honest, I didn't expect such a wealth of responses, thank you all very much indeed. So many wonderful resources and great ideas!

As many of you have mentioned, different things work for different people and it's about finding the way that suits you.
So once again thanks for all links, books, and advice!! Think I'll start my day with a coffee and a comic!

DominicB - | 2,709
5 Oct 2017 #24

You're welcome.

I also found exactly what you are looking for. There is a series of graded readers that you can download in PDF form with side-by-side English translations and embedded soundfiles, and they are not at all expensive.

Click on one of the readers, and you can view a sample .pdf. This will help you a lot to start reading.

Good luck learning Polish. You've taken on quite a task!
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
5 Oct 2017 #25
Granted, Dominic! However in your scenario, clearly it was the TEACHERS who anesthetized and robbed you of the love of learning, NOT the material itself.

You, the students, couldn't necessarily be to blame either, as it's the instructor after all who sets the tone of the class and engenders respect for the written word.
DominicB - | 2,709
5 Oct 2017 #26
I doubt that any teacher can awaken much enthusiasm for Romantic-era German literature in a group of American high school students. Yes, the teachers were responsible for their mistake, but their mistake was choosing grossly inappropriate reading material, both for the level and for the demographic. Come on, Die Leiden des jungen Werther? Sheer torture to any normal teenager. Or Tod in Venedig, a book that can be understood only by men well into their fifties? It's one of my favorite books now, but then, I'm well over fifty. Same with Lalka in Polish. Great if you are a mature and experienced male. Incomprehensible if you are not.
5 Oct 2017 #27
I have been preparing for b1 exam I get good results from each part of the exam the only problem is with writing. How may I prepare for it? When I read short stories I almost understand everything.I have a problem with Dative and Accusative case only. Will it be a serious problem in writing exam for me? Sometimes I do not use appropriate cases.
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
5 Oct 2017 #28
Graded primers with exercises and even vocabulary (either translated or defined in the target language) following each chapter read are often a good source of learning, at least they were for me.

@DominicB, clearly the fault lies with the expectations of the teacher rather than the level of the student:-) To be sure, German Romanticism for instance, will be a tough sell for ghetto kids coming directly from the slums to the classroom, no argument there! On the other hand, as the trite saying goes, you've got to start somwhere or any subject, be it cost accounting, foreign languages or literature will NEVER be learned.
kaprys 3 | 2,286
7 Oct 2017 #29
Remember that you don't need to understand every single word you read to understand a story.
Paulina's idea to read comic books is great. Books for children aren't bad but the best would be graded readers.
As for books in Polish, check ones with short texts like albums. ' Bestiariusz słowiański' has such short texts with lots of pictures but since both volumes are about creatures from the Slavic folklore, the vocabulary might be tricky.

When you're more advanced you can read stories by Sapkowski, especially if you like the witcher. However, you need to be into this genre.

If you're into fantasy, there are also collections of stories by Andrzej Pilipiuk. The ones about Jakub Wedrowycz might be quite shocking for some but others like 'Rzeznik drzew' or '2586 kroków' are interesting even for people who don't like fantasy.

Everything depends on what you like reading.
If you're into mystery, check books by Polish bestselling authors like Zygmunt Miloszewski, Eugeniusz Mróz, Katarzyna Bonda or Katarzyna Puzynska.
You may also try reading biographies. If there's someone you admire, you will be interested in what their life was like.
I know you need to be more advanced to read most of these but remember to read contemporary Polish from the very beginning. Otherwise you're going to sound funny. Jaskier mentioned 'Wszystko czerwone' by Joanna Chmielewska. One of the funniest things about this book is the Danish inspector who speaks archaic/Biblical Polish and produces sentences like 'Ta dama to Wasza mac? '
Lyzko 33 | 8,120
7 Oct 2017 #30
Kaprys is quite right. Most people, even in their native language, will typically skim a page of text, not read every single word. Furthermore, the meaning of a word in any language can sometimes be easily gleaned through context, that is, how the word is used in the sentence:-) Not always, of course. For instance, a description of a house reads "To piekny, ale ogromny budynek", you might well recognize "piekny" (beautiful), probably "budynek" as well, though "ogromny" could indeed throw one for a loop. Here of course, a solid dictionary should always be on hand. However, if for instance, you're reading a basic dialogue between two people and it's already clear from the context that they are very angry at one another, whereupon one calls the other "gowniarz", without translating or looking it up, it's doubtless crystal clear what the other chap said.

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