Monday, May 27, 2013

Polish Language Learning Recommendations

In my last post, I talked about many of the books I have used in my Polish studies.  I've also done various posts on different sites on the Internet (pay sites and free sites) that are good for learning Polish.  Out of all of these, which would I recommend the most? Depends on whether you want comprehensive or cheap. And all bets are off on the books if you are actually in Poland--you'll find a whole different palette there.  But at least the websites I mention here will be available there.  You might want to download any .pdf files you find because you never know when they might disappear off the Web.

Cheap (Or Even Free!):

Each one of these cheap options has a free option as well, and some of the best choices are free.  It is always best to get stuff from more than one source to diversify.

Text--Polish in 4 Weeks Part I.  To go even cheaper, get whatever you can find at the thrift store that is comparable.  For free, you can use the University of Pittsburgh's basic first-year materials.  You can probably find some basic lessons on YouTube or through a search engine, but you might not find anything comparable to a good first-year text.  You can also try the free Foreign Service Institute course; the Polish text is here at the FSI site, but unlike other languages, they don't have audio along with the text.

Vocabulary--Anki (here is a list of Polish decks to choose from, including the BIG one I helped work on; you have to download the free program to use them) and Internet Polyglot, supplemented with any texts you have (you can always enter more words yourself into an Anki deck).  Free.

Audio--Real Polish online for free; also Polish in 4 Weeks (but make sure you get one with the CDs).  Or you can read this post for information on how to get free audiobooks at along with accompanying text and translation.

Written narratives--Wikipedia Method and Real Polish.  Free.

Grammar--go with the free Oscar Swan grammars online (basic and comprehensivedownload them because who knows how long they'll be available). (note...the comprehensive one is no longer available).

Dictionary--Larousse or whatever else you can find cheap...most of the pocket dictionaries are pretty much interchangable.  Buy the books at a thrift store if possible.  Or for free, use this dictionary online; it only goes in one direction (Polish-English), but you can look up words in English to be translated into Polish by using the search function of your browser or of Adobe Acrobat.  You can also find Polish-English dictionaries through search engines online, but I'm not all that crazy about them...mostly they are only search text boxes that just come up with words.  And Google Translate probably does a better job of this than most of them and also gives you pronunciations (and translations into and from multiple languages).


Texts--both Polish in 4 Weeks books (Part I and Part II) for first exposure, the dense Teach Yourself Polish for in-depth treatment, and any other text(s) for comparative treatment.

Vocabulary--Anki (see entry above for more info) and Internet Polyglot, supplemented with any texts you have (you can always enter more words yourself into an Anki deck).  Though these are free, they are probably the best vocabulary learning sources you will find.

Audio--Pimsleur CDs (get the comprehensive version), Real Polish (you can buy the supplemental materials online for extra instructional support) and PolishPod101 (subscription service online).  I wouldn't recommend spending a ton of money on Rosetta Stone.

Written narratives--Polish in 4 Weeks (Part I and Part II), Wikipedia MethodReal Polish.

Grammar--basic and comprehensive Swan (buy his book for moral support if you use the free stuff a lot), and Polish An Essential Grammar.

Dictionaries--Larousse for quick-and-dirty, Kosciuszko for under-the-hood.


  1. Hello! Thank you for your article. I’d like to try to compare it to my previous experience of learning polish lessons through Skype on online classes for free. I did around 10 conversations over Skype with a native speaker from And I was pretty satisfied with their Quality. I think they have a strong teaching quality,They teach in a way any kid will easily understood.Studying their course curriculum now I can speak polish like a native , but I Want to try another option.

  2. Thank you for this article. I tried couple of books but I found 'Teach Yourself Polish' by M. Pitkaniowska the best for my needs. It make learning Polish so much fun. Thank you for your recommendation.