So, nearly a month on from my last blog post in which I announced my intention to learn Polish, I thought I’d give you an update on how things are going.
Not everything has gone to plan. I had set myself an ambitious schedule, but family life is rarely predictable. Still, progress is progress. In my last blog, I promised I’d update you on what I thought worked, and what didn’t, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of the new Mango Languages resources.
Of course, some things haven’t changed (much). The basic structure of the Polish course is familiar from the other courses. There are several – in this case ten – chapters covering different topics from places and directions to compliments and correction, split into smaller individual lessons. Each chapter has clear conversational goals. The individual lessons consist of around 50 slides each, and take on average 15-20 minutes each to work through. The trademark formula used by Mango (Introduce a phrase, break it down, then reassemble it) also remains unchanged. Grammar is more often inferred or shown by example rather than explicitly taught. For the vast majority of people who don’t really like grammar, this is great news, but as part of a small minority of grammar geeks, this leaves me a little disappointed. However, the selection of phrases is spot-on for what I will actually need in the country, as I found in my previous language learning adventures. So I am willing to overlook this little niggle and get my grammar-fix elsewhere.
There are some changes that I really like. Firstly, one of the things that used to really annoy me about Mango before was that ever so often a review slide was introduced with “Isn’t this easy?” and then asked me “How do you say ‘I’d like 30,000 kilos of bananas?’” in a pathologically cheerful way. Thankfully, that’s gone now. More importantly though, there are now review slides to work through each day to ensure you don’t forget words and phrases from earlier lessons/ chapters. I used to regularly go through the end-of-chapter recaps for my own reviews previously, but this was not very time efficient. The new review feature makes things a lot easier.
There are small issues I’ve found which may well be specific to the Polish course. One of those is that, as in Polish sometimes a word (for example the personal pronoun) can be omitted, it is often not clear, if this should or should not be included in my response. As the process is pretty much a self-assessment, this is only a minor concern. What is distracting though is, when a slide gives an (under the circumstances) unexpected answer. One example: “Hello. My first name is Jacek” is translated as “Dzień dobry. Mam na imię Jacek”, when “Dzień dobry” actually means “Good morning/ afternoon”, and the correct translation for “Hello” would be “Cześć”. Not a huge difference in meaning, but enough to be annoying. A similar thing happens when I’m asked to translate “What’s your name?” but the actual translation is for “What is your first name”, when different phrases were taught for each.
Unfortunately, Polish is not one of the major languages, for which the new Reading and Listening materials were added, so I can’t yet comment on these, but I think that over the next weeks I may take a peek at one of those – probably Latin American Spanish. That’s the other thing about Mango that I like as a compulsive language learner: access to material in 70 different languages for a not-bad-at-all $17.99 per month, or following the new pricing structure just $7.99 per month for a single language. Or you can pay annually and get the equivalent of 2 months free. Find out more at https://mangolanguages.com/pricing/.
I’ll endeavour to keep posting progress updates, as well as my experiences with what has worked well, and what hasn’t. Next month I have a fantastic Polish food evening at a local pub to look forward to, which I will be attending with my wife and partner-in-Lingotastic, the fabulous Sarah. Let’s see if I can make it as far as the “ordering food” vocab by then!