We believe the most effective way of learning a foreign language is through the direct method. As a result of this approach, we developed the START Series of three textbooks for learning at levels A0, A1 and A2. They fill a niche in the textbook market of learning Polish as a foreign language.
We not only authored the series of books, but also are experienced teachers and the founders of a successful Polish language school in Warsaw for people wanting to learn Polish – the Klub Dialogu. Our many years of experience working closely with individuals from around the globe guarantees the high quality of the content and methodology of the START Series.
Our textbooks are available for sale!
The START Series includes three textbooks for learning Polish for beginners and they are all based on the direct method from the very first lesson – encouraging the student to start communicating in the Polish language from the start. START textbooks are accompanied by audio materials, helping students to become comfortable in communicating using the Polish language in everyday situations and to develop their ability to understand the spoken language.
START Series Textbooks:
The START Series textbooks are designed so that the student can assimilate successive language skills: listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing, in an effective and pleasant way, and use these skills to meet their needs at the initial stage of learning. From the beginning, important communication skills are introduced, while grammar is treated as a secondary support. As a result of the textbooks’ clear structure, the student can focus on the most important issues, acquire correct language skills through the wide selection of exercises, and use the summary chapters to systematize the information that has been conveyed.
- AUDIO MATERIALS
The textbooks have audio materials to help familiarize students with the language in natural settings of its use and to develop competence in understanding the spoken language.
- INSTRUCTOR’S NOTEBOOK
The guidelines for working with the textbooks according to the DIALOGUE CLUB method are presented in the Instructor’s Notebook, which includes additional choices of games to use at the appropriate time while working with the textbook. Tests checking the extent to which students have become familiar with the material and transcripts of the recordings are also included.
The START Series method:
Varying language teaching methods is based on four main elements: role of the native language, attitude towards learning grammar, accepted principles of teaching and teaching techniques used.
In developing our teaching methods and the textbooks, we were naturally inspired by the most popular teaching methods. We incorporated those elements which we found to be most effective in our work with foreigners who were just beginning to learn Polish for the first time.
The method of the START textbooks reflects the following premises:
- the native language of the student is not referred to,
- materials are precisely selected and carefully sequenced,
- context is used to help with comprehension,
- comments on grammar and linguistic analyses of the material are avoided,
- the learner is exposed to the patterns used in the language, which helps in the autonomous discovery of the rules governing the language,
- frequent repetitions are used to facilitate the habitual use of language constructs,
- the stress of learning is eliminated and the right conditions are set up for effective learning.
In preparing our materials, we were guided by the principle that the instructor’s role is not just to present the components of a language, but also to teach in such a way that enables the learner to retain all of the introduced elements. We are convinced that the START Series textbooks facilitate the work of instructors and allow them to teach Polish effectively at the A1 level.
The target audience of the START Series:
The START 1 textbook is intended for adult learners. Our experiences in working with foreigners give us an understanding of their needs and what they expect of Polish language courses, both in the way they are organized, as well as the content.
The most frequent suggestions are:
• to orient lessons toward actual communication needs to the greatest extent possible,
• to select lexical and grammatical materials that are adapted to the needs and abilities at the lowest level of advancement,
- to systematically develop all language skills,
• to have a sufficient number of exercises for specific language skills,
• to intensively train phonetics,
• to have one comprehensive set of materials for learning.
It is worth emphasizing that a well-designed textbook also facilitates the work of teachers, saves time and allows lessons to be conducted in a variety of ways.
To return to the textbooks’ audience of adult learners – when working on the texts, we took into consideration the benefits and challenges of working with such students. We believe that adult students are strongly motivated to learn a given language, which positively influences the learning process. However, this is also an additional challenge for the teacher, who must make every effort not to squander this motivation, and also to augment it as much as possible. Keeping this in mind, we first carefully arrange the material and scale its level of difficulty, so that mastering successive lessons is easy and brings a sense of achievement in the form of very specific communication skills. Second, to the extent possible, we facilitate the autonomous discovery of the rules of the language by students. These two approaches maintain a high level satisfaction with the learning process and motivate further learning during the language course.
We are aware that next to the benefits of teaching adults, there are also many challenges and barriers which have to be taken into account when developing our materials. These include, among others: irregular attendance in classes, lack of time for self-learning, ingrained habits, specific expectations of the teaching techniques, fear of being laughed at and fear of criticism. How do we address this? Above all, we use many automaticity exercises, which enable both vocabulary and each and every new construct to be precisely mastered – and this is done during lessons, under the supervision of the teacher. Additionally, the Instructor’s Notebook has supplementary games and exercises adapted to specific lessons, two large sections of repeated material and two tests. In terms of overcoming the fear of using a new language, as with sustaining high motivation for learning, several factors are key. The level of difficulty is carefully increased and situations are created in which the student is able to discover the rules governing the language. They are encouraged to use the acquired skills and independently develop structures with their own content, analogous to those learned during the lesson. This builds a sense of success in learning.
When introducing new language elements, we make every effort to do so according to a pre-set scheme consisting of the following stages: contextualization, presentation, autonomous discovery of rules, automaticity, testing and using personal examples.
To develop a student's reflexive mastery of creating a given structure and using it, we have provided a large array of simple automaticity exercises in the textbook, as well as in the Instructor’s Notebook. These exercises are placed between the introduction to the structures being taught and the independent exercises. Their purpose is to practice specific syntax and inflection structures and are based on continuous repetitions of the same pattern, using it each time with different lexical content. It is important to do the exercise and simultaneously monitor the results – the teacher must make sure that the student’s responses are right and carefully correct any errors.
A more difficult stage is to perform contrast exercises – the student is forced to choose between the practiced structure and one with which it can be easily confused. This type of exercise serves a very important function, because it repeats already practiced material and supplements the process of assimilating the new construct. Practicing an element in isolation is not as important as practicing it by comparing it to others and forcing the student to make a choice.
The audio materials were selected based on their practical use for comprehension exercises, according to the following premises:
• the level of the recording is adequate to the level of learning,
• listening is selective,
• the tasks the student must perform are very clearly defined before listening begins,
• in checking comprehension, this is the only skill we focus on,
• we do not provide general translations or explain the material.
Different techniques are used to develop listening comprehension skills: exercises before, during and after listening are conducted to familiarize the student with the text being heard.
START Series textbooks as course textbooks:
Comprehensive language skills and abilities
Development of pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, grammar
Development of speaking, understanding, reading and writing
The ability to repeat, remember, monitor and assess materials and skills
Use in self-learning
Homework, performing repetitions, working independently when absent from the group course – attractive graphics and clarity, additional exercises, keys, transcripts.
Ease of use by teachers
Teacher's book, audio materials, tests, additional exercises, practical layout, short units or modules, varied exercises
We have observed the high effectiveness of using the START textbooks ever since they were introduced. We consistently study the results achieved by students, their satisfaction and that of teachers working with our method. We use evaluation forms to regularly check the opinions of instructors on working with the textbooks, which show that the textbooks are effective at the lowest level of advancement. Instructors using our textbooks emphasize that they are comfortable to work with, a result of the comprehensive character of our offer – textbooks, audio materials, tests, games, extra exercises, as well as ongoing methodical support and regular training.
The START Series has been found to respond to market needs and clients interested in learning Polish. Students appreciate the systematic introduction of new communication elements, so that after each class, they feel that they have learned something new to use in everyday life. The design of the textbook is very important, as it systematizes knowledge and does not clutter learning with unnecessary grammatical elements. Its clear structure allows the focus to be placed on the most important elements being learned, while the summary chapters make it possible to systematize the information provided thus far.
Two tests conducted during the learning process assess the learner’s progress and serve as an impetus to further learning, as well as measuring the level of skills attained.