I have to be honest – I didn’t really use books to learn. I tried one Polish textbook, but got a couple of chapters in and was bored out of my mind. The books below are the only ones that I ever really used.

The first two are phrasebooks, perfect for learning Polish sentences, the basic principle of my learning method. After that, there’s a grammar book. I didn’t read it, but used the examples in the book to make flashcards. Once I’d learned some of these example sentences, my grammar noticeably improved, even though I didn’t know the rules explicitly.

Finally, there’s a book which is just full of example sentences. Due to its great organisation, even flicking through this book was a great way to learn Polish words in context, as well as develop my grammar skills.

If you’re looking to boost your vocabulary or improve your grammar, these are the books which I recommend.

Are you a beginner? Try these!

Lonely Planet Polish Phrasebook and Dictionary

Learn the mother tongue of illustrious personalities such as Copernicus, Chopin, Joseph Conrad, Marie Curie and Pope John Paul II.

Resources: Lonely Planet Polish Phrasebook and Dictionary

This was my very first Polish phrasebook. I used this book so much that it fell apart. It was always handy to shove it into my back pocket during trips to Poland so that I could always make myself understood. The themed topics and short dictionary meant that I could always look up anything that I wanted to say, plus after adding its sentences to Anki and learning them, I finally realised that learning how to speak Polish fluently was an actual possibility!

Here’s the salesy bit the publisher says:

  • Never get stuck for words with this 3,500-word two-way dictionary.
  • Order the right meal with the menu decoder.
  • Avoid embarrassing situations with essential tips on culture & manners.
  • Coverage includes Basics, Practical, Social, Safe Travel and Food.
  • Written and researched by Lonely Planet and Piotr Czajkowski.

Personally, it’s the way that I’d recommend starting to learn Polish. It’s definitely what I’d use if I were starting all over again. It’s on Amazon, if you want to check it out for yourself:

http://www.howtospeakpolish.com/lonelyplanetbook

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Lingea Rozmówki Angielskie

More than 2,000 useful sayings and expressions written in both Polish and English.

Resources: Lingea Rozmówki Angielskie

This little gem was the first piece of native literature that I tried to learn from. Packed full of native sentences and phrases, I preferred this phrasebook to Lonely Planet’s solely because I knew the Polish in it was native (since it was written by Poles for Poles). In reality, if I’d have started with this, I might have been a bit overwhelmed by the fact everything was in Polish unless I knew what I was doing.

Like any other phrasebook, it covers all of the topics you’d expect and is small enough to fit in your pocket – ideal for trips to the Polish shop or Poland itself. As a result, it allows you to learn or practise Polish on the move. In conclusion, if you can get a copy, do – even if that’s in addition to another phrasebook that you already own. These kinds of books are usually cheap and since they fit in your pocket, they have added benefits too.

Here’s all of the lovely benefits that the people that made it want you to know about.

  • Arranged by theme so that you can find the phrase you need in seconds.
  • 2,600 sayings and expressions to allow you to pick up key vocabulary.
  • Covers an array of subjects, providing you with the vital vocabulary for eating out, shopping, leisure, work, appearance and beyond.
  • Find the word that you need instantly in the 8,000 word pocket dictionary.
  • Explains terms in both English and Polish to make sure that you always understand.

I never bothered with the pocket dictionary, but the thousands of sayings and expressions were incredibly useful. Check it out on Amazon:

http://www.howtospeakpolish.com/phrasebook

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Polish grammar is a minefield. Here is your map.

Routledge’s Polish: A Comprehensive Grammar

The complete reference grammar guide for intermediate and advanced learners of Polish.

Resources: Routledge's Polish: A Comprehensive Grammar

Although I hate Polish grammar, I acknowledge that knowledge of it is essential in order to sound like an educated speaker.

Whether you prefer to learn grammar directly or indirectly, this book can help you. Why? Because it covers the simple, the mundane, as well as the completely obscure. Although there were the occasional dodgy translations in the version that I read, this is the best Polish grammar book that I’ve ever come across and I highly recommend it to you. (If you know of a better grammar book, let me know!)

Here’s what they say about it on Amazon:

  • The essential reference work on Polish grammar for all learners and users of the language.
  • Focuses on real patterns of use in contemporary Polish.
  • Invaluable resource for students of the Polish language.
  • Full of well selected and illuminating examples.
  • Covers all parts of Polish speech.

I remember this one being more expensive than the others, but see it as an investment…or borrow it from a library. Click here to see how much it currently costs on Amazon. You’ve been warned!

http://www.howtospeakpolish.com/grammarbook

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Lingea Rozmównik Polsko-Angielski

Learn authentic Polish language with this incredible resource.

Resources: Lingea Rozmównik Polsko-Angielski

This was by far my favourite Polish language learning book and I’m really annoyed because I’ve lost my copy! (I could just buy it back, but I know it must be around here somewhere…) 

Because this book is grouped by words, it provides native examples of vocabulary in context, complete with an English translation. It’s a rather comprehensive treasure trove of example sentences and will help you understand a word’s meaning and usage better than any dictionary ever could. In fact, I hardly ever used a dictionary for that reason.

Here’s what the book says about its contents:

  • Broaden your linguistic competence with this combined dictionary and phrasebook.
  • Useful for the absolute beginner as well as those at an intermediate level.
  • Tame Polish grammar with simple explanations.
  • Contains the most commonly used Polish phrases to ensure you’re using authentic language.
  • More than 15,000 examples to help you master not just the basics, but colloquialisms and slang too.

It’s not 100% necessary to have a book like this when you have access to the internet and can Google example sentences in seconds. However, for the convenience of having several example sentences, colloquial phrases and their translations all in one place, it can’t really be beaten.

This book is also on Amazon if you wanted to find out more, but being a Polish book, it’s not always in stock. Snap it up if you can.

http://www.howtospeakpolish.com/lingeabook

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