Mastering Polish

By Albert Juszczak. New York. Hippocrene Books (l7l Madison Ave., New York l00l6). l993. 320 pp. $l4.95. Available as a book/cassette package.

Danuta Z. Hutchins

This book constitutes one of the "teach-yourself" foreign languages series offered by the publisher. Its author, a graduate of the University of Chicago in the History of Polish Literature, teaches Polish at New York University. He is co-author of The Polish Heritage Travel Guide to U.S.A. and Canada and has translated Eliza Orzeszkowa's The Jurja Clan.

The contents are divided into 21 Teaching Units followed by sixty pages of Reference Materials, inclusive of the Dictionary of Words Introduced in the Teaching Units, and the Key to the Exercises. Each Teaching Unit contains Conversations I and II, relating events connected with the visit of Jack and Jill Waters, a Polish-American couple, cultural and grammar explanations, and a set of relevant exercises. The conversations contain vocabulary connected with Jack's and Jill's travels through Poland, including "A Side Trip to Gdansk," visits to the Jagiellonian University, the Zacheta Art Gallery, the Bialowieza Forest Preserve, Chopin's birthplace in Zelazowa Wola and the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Some of the units contain the vocabulary connected with "Customs and Immigration," "Getting a Room at the Hotel," "Asking for Directions to the Restaurant," getting around the "Town Market," "Going to the Hospital," "Buying Presents and Souvenirs," "Attending a Concert," and coping with the problems "At the Auto Repair Shop." The vocabulary is current and relevant to Polish life. Four units of "Review and Self-Assessment" follow each set of chapters: l-5, 6-l0, 11-15, and 16-21. These contain two sections each, a section on Reading Comprehension assessed by a set of questions, a dictation, a section that tests grammar and a list of idiomatic expressions.

The stated purpose of the book is the achievement of conversational ability "in most everyday situations," and the achievement of the ability "to read and write basic material using correct grammar and syntax." Dr. Juszczak explains that the book contains material equivalent "of somewhat more than one year of average college-level Polish instruction" (p. l3). The reading passages in Polish are followed by translations into English. Some words contain somewhat cryptic superscribed numbers.

This book is oriented toward self-study. Tapes are available.

While a strong point of the book is its contemporary setting, it could have been made more vivid by the inclusion of photographs, maps or grammatical tables. Inclusion of the genitive forms for the nouns and some way of marking the grammatical classes of the verbs would make the dictionary more user-friendly. The book has some typographical errors.

Danuta Z. Hutchins is in charge of Slavic Languages at Teikyo Westmar University, LeMars, Iowa.

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The Sarmatian Review
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