Review: Polish Through Legends
This is the fourth installment in a series of reviews of products for learning Polish.
Read more for the full review!
Polish Through Legends is primarily an audio course, aimed at beginner and elementary learners. It consists of three, 20 to 30 minute lessons in mp3 format (70 minutes total). Each lesson is made up of two stories: a classic Polish legend and a modern story, both containing most of the same vocabulary.
First, you hear the legend, told at a slow speed along with music and sound effects. Then you hear the same legend told at a natural speed (and without the effects). Afterward, you hear a series of questions and their answers. The narrator suggests that you try to answer the questions out loud.
In the second part, you hear the modern story in the same format: first slowly, then at a natural pace and finally, the question and answer portion.
Each lesson also comes with two PDFs containing:
- The full text of both stories,
- A glossary of all the vocabulary (including the English translations), and
- All of the questions and their corresponding answers.
The entire course costs $9.95 - or 27.50 PLN if you're lucky enough to be living in Poland! ;-) You can also buy each lesson individually for $3.99 each. (Ed: This course is now free!)
First of all, the stories are great! They are told in an entertaining way that is simply fun to listen to. They include many Polish classics, such as the legend of the Wawel Dragon and Cracow's Heynal, two tales well-known to all Poles, but especially cherished by residents of Cracow (where we lived when we were in Poland).
Second of all, ALL of the audio is in Polish! Plus, it's a decent amount of audio for a beginning student (70 minutes total), which is pretty dense with content.
One of the main problems with Polish courses is that they contain too much English or are simply very short. (See my review of PolishPod101 for an example!) This is NOT a problem with Polish Through Legends!
Lastly, the language used is simple enough for beginners and told at a slow enough pace. Usually, audio for beginners is just single words, while audio that contains interesting stories or dialogues is told too fast and often contains vocabulary that may be too advanced for beginners. It is really hard to find this type of content geared toward beginners.
In my opinion, this is a great course for beginners! Plus, it's reasonably priced compared to other beginner courses like Pimsleur, which costs up to $270! (See my review for more information.)
It's been a long time since I was a beginner-level Polish learner. So, I asked my wife -- a real elementary student of Polish! -- to help with this review. :-)
She's been working on the first lesson for about two weeks. It's unfortunate that she's only been using the product for such a short period of time, but I think her first impressions are still quite useful. I'll post another article with her thoughts on the product after she's finished using it.
Interview with my wife
How are you using the lesson?
First, I listened to the recording and followed along with the text. Every day after that, I listened to the story and questions (answering each in my head) on my mp3 player without the text. Then I would read through the story, looking up each word I didn't know on the glossary list, which was a very pleasant and smooth experience.
I made flash cards of problem words on my nifty little keychain pack of cards, so that whenever I was waiting for the bus, or in between calls at my job, I could study them without hassle. I went through the flashcards, listened to and read the text every day, grasping more and more of the words and phrases and using the glossary less and less until I got it!
I can't say enough about the convenience of the glossary list. To have just the words you need for a piece of text is wonderful. You don't have to flip through cards or a dictionary, which keeps my interest.
I studied the list by covering up one side and going through it, just scanning it, and also by jumping around out of order so that I'm not memorizing the words in alphabetical order.
Another great thing about the glossary list is that, while studying one word, it might make you think of another word on the list - maybe the spelling or the meaning - and I found it was my subconscious saying, "Make sure you differentiate this word from this other word," so I would study them together for a minute.
The glossary gives you the speed your brain needs to keep from getting frustrated and bored, combined with the beauty of a workable short list of words in context of a simple story. Perfection!
What do think? Is it helping you learn?
I love it!
Hearing quick Polish (although it's a beautiful language) can be quite intimidating and is probably one of the main reasons why people don't attempt to learn it, I'm guessing.
The grammar charts out there are also scary, but this way you learn grammar passively, and it seems more natural. It was a nice, slow pace so the intimidation factor was low enough that I could just relax and learn.
One small suggestion: it would be nice to have more of the idioms on the glossary list. (Ed: she's referring to "palić kogoś w garło" and "wpaść na pomysł" which aren't included in the glossary for the first story. Luckily she had me to explain them to her!)
Also, it has good music, sound effects and voice acting!! :)
Will you keep using it? Would you recommend it to other beginners?
I plan on it! And yes I would recommend it to beginners of all ages. I plan on learning them all and reading them to my future children. :-)
The story I read has strong visual aspects and makes you use your imagination, which reinforces the words and phrases. Also, it is written in a clear, simple way, without being boring!
As I mentioned above, you have the freedom to choose your own pace. And learning through Polish legends is a fun way to get anyone into the culture, which only makes you want to learn the language more!
Have you tried Real Polish's Polish Through Legends? What did you think? Leave a comment below!