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2.3. Foreign language learning outside formal education system

The beginning of the 90-ties saw the beginning of the transformation period and the opening of foreign markets and therefore the necessity to increase the language competences of Polish society. Market needs begun to be fulfilled by many newly established language schools. Statistical data quoted in this chapter are based on the findings of research carried out by “The Teacher” Publishing House.

2.3.1. Language schools

During past 15 years many language schools were established and many of them were also closed. The results of the survey show that the number of language schools was four times bigger than the number mentioned below. It does not reflect the change in the demand concerning language courses and trainings but is a sign of the development of competition and the fact that some schools were run by persons who were not qualified in this field. The market regulations provided for (and they still do) the establishment of language schools by any economic entity or by anyone undertaking business activity which included also the activities coming under class 80.42, i.e. “courses and trainings which are not classified under other headings”. This enables the fast establishment of a school but does not guarantee the quality of its performance.
Not so long ago, language schools, specially those which addressed their educational offer to youth, were undertaking steps to obtain a registration in Local Educational Authorities as well as a status of a non-public educational establishment. In this way, parents felt reassured and had confidence in such a school. However, a system of certification and standardization of language schools by different associations (e.g. PASE, EQUALS) and other commercial entities replaced the above mentioned system of granting “credibility” very quickly. The obtainment of a status of examination center was an additional asset for language schools. Unfortunately, these efforts undertaken by many language schools did not contribute significantly to the improvement of the quality of their performance. The results of the surveys, conducted during the past 5 years in Warsaw, show that 71% of the participants of language courses change their language schools, trying to find one, which would more adequately fulfill their expectations.
Language schools, especially in big cities, want to attract clients trying to outdo one another in using different means of promotion and building an image of a unique school. Bigger competition results in raising the expectations of clients who want to participate in exemplary lessons and to assess teachers against their own criteria. These practices are less popular in small towns, where there is less concentration of language schools. However, this situation forces language schools to improve the quality of their performance in order to keep clients who have already started learning foreign language in a given school and to attract new ones.
The biggest category of language schools is a category of schools, which teach more than one foreign language.
Number of private language schools 6.845

Schools teaching more than one foreign language 72,3%

English language schools 21,8%

German language schools 3,2%

Language schools teaching other languages 2,7%
English has been the most popular foreign language among languages taught in private schools in Poland for many years. However, German is more popular than English in regions situated near our western border. Just after Poland’s accession to the UE we observed the increased interest in French. But it was for rather a short and transitional period, as the number of persons learning French quickly dropped to the level from before the accession.
The biggest number of private language schools has in their teaching offered English.
Number of private language schools teaching specific languages

Language schools teaching English 6.328

Language schools teaching German 3.477

Language schools teaching French 1.692

Language schools teaching Russian 3.852

Language schools teaching Spanish 463

Language schools teaching Italian 569

Language schools teaching other languages 912

Schools, which provide preparatory courses for the international foreign language exams and have good performance indicators, are also popular.
Number of persons participating in preparatory courses for particular foreign
language exams:

FCE 6213 CAE 3987

CPE 654 TOEFL 1293

LCCI 4258 DL 298

DSLCF 456 DELF 669

DALF 162 ZD 1596

ZMP 56 ZOP 162

2.3.2. Students of language schools – statistics

In the year 2004/2005 the total number 786.327 persons learnt foreign languages in private language schools.
The average age of persons participating in language courses organized by private language schools is 22 years. Most of the participants are women.
Women 86,7%

Men 13,3%

Under 25 54,2%

26 – 30 25,1%

31 – 40 19,2%

41 – 50 6,1%

Above 50 3,4%
38 % of the participants of language courses organized by private language schools have completed higher education; almost every third participant is a pupil of a primary or secondary school.

Higher education 34,0%

Higher education and additional post-graduate studies 4,1%

Academic title (doctor, professor) 1,2%

Not completed higher education 32,9%

Post – secondary education 6,8%

Upper-secondary education with Matura exam 13,7%

Lower secondary education 16,1%

Primary education 13,1%

Higher education and post graduate studies together 38 %

Most of the participants of such courses live in towns with the population of more than 100.000 people.

Mazowieckie and Łódzkie 34,0%

Dolnośląskie, Opolskie and Śląskie 22,1%

Pomorskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie and Zachodniopomorskie 14,2%

Wielkopolskie and Lubuskie 12,9%

Małopolskie, Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie 10,8%

Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Podlaskie and Lubelskie 6,0%
It is worth mentioning that the above-mentioned data covers also language courses conducted in private companies, as private language schools also organize most of these courses.

2.4. Teaching aims and content

Teaching aims and content of language education are included in the Core Curriculum for General Education in Specific Types of Schools. (Annex to the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 6 November 2003). This Core Curriculum is written for the Polish language, foreign languages as well as languages of ethnic or national minorities . “The overall aim of school education – as it is presented in the Core Curriculum - is to provide comprehensive development of each pupil.” Language education does not only mean teaching proper and fluent communication, writing and reading comprehension, which is necessary to acquire knowledge and develop skills, it also means teaching attitudes enabling mutual understanding and cooperation between nations with diversified language and cultural background. The Core Curriculum is not a teaching curriculum. It includes general guidelines, which constitute the basis for the development of original curricula for specific educational context.
Teaching curricula are developed either by individuals in accordance with the needs of a given school or one class in a school, or by institutions (e.g. Publishing Houses), which, for this purpose, establish teams of experts. Having obtained a positive recommendation from the Ministry of National Education such curricula are included on the list of recommended school curricula (
Schools are free to choose textbooks from the list approved by the Ministry. The list of recommended textbooks is also available on the Internet site of the Ministry of National Education ( It is a very long list and sometimes in one Voivodship different schools may use different textbooks. Exceptions to this are the textbooks for languages of national and ethnic minorities and the regional language. They are developed for particular classes, financed by the Ministry of National Education and distributed free of charge.
The Core Curriculum also includes skills that each pupil should acquire in each eduaction stage. In 2003 CODN (the National In-Service Teacher Training Centre) published the Polish version of The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR); Un Cadre Européeen Commun de Réféerence pour les langues: Apprendre, Enseigner, Évalue). The process of gradual implementation of language teaching standards included in this document has already started.
The Core Curriculum also includes so called educational paths (covering educational and didactic issues). These paths are introduced in the second education stage. It is the responsibility of a Headmaster to ensure that these educational paths are included in the school set of teaching curricula. Teachers of all subjects, including foreign language teachers, are responsible for their implementation.
The following educational paths are compulsory now:

Education stage II (grades IV-VI of primary school):

  • Reading and media education

  • Ecological education

  • Health education

  • Civic Education:

      • Education for family life

      • Regional education – cultural heritage in a given region

      • Patriotic and citizenship education.

Education stage III (lower secondary school):

  • Reading and media education

  • Ecological education

  • European education

  • Regional education – cultural heritage in a given region

  • Philosophical education

  • Health education

  • Polish culture in the context of Mediterranean culture

  • Civil defense.

Education stage IV (general upper secondary and specialised and technical upper secondary schools):

  • Reading and media education

  • Ecological education

  • European education

  • Philosophical education

  • Health education

        • Regional education – cultural heritage in a given region

        • Education for family life.

The implementation of educational paths demands the introduction of cross- curriculum teaching approach (integrated content, competences and skills from different fields) and facilitates the introduction of European dimension and CLIL to schools.

2.4.1. Results of language education

The teaching results are visible in the results of the test implemented in the grade 6 of the primary school, lower secondary school examination and the Matura examination (which can be taken by all the graduates of particular types of upper secondary schools). The test and the gymnasium exam are carried out in Polish and were introduced in 2002. The Matura examination comprises a foreign language as one of the examination subjects.
In 2004 the results of the first “examination” taken in the pupil’s career (the test taken in the grade 6 of the primary school) were as follows:

Total (40 points max.)

Reading (10 points max.)

Writing (12 points max.)

Understanding (8 points max.)

Use of information (2 points max.)

Use of knowledge (8 points max.)

Average result of pupils in gminas







Average result of pupils in towns







Source: Central Examination Board
The main aim of this test is to diagnose the need to introduce changes in the educational aims and content as well as teaching methods in order to improve the level and quality of education and to provide all children, from rural and urban areas as well as from other environments, with equal educational opportunities. This test is also important from the perspective of further language education both in Polish and in other languages. This test presents a picture of pupils’ language skills and competences thus points out the direction of their development.
In 2004, in the humanities element of the final lower secondary school exam, which is a pre-requisite for the admission to the education stage IV, the average result was 27,01 out of 50 points. Generally pupils from schools situated in towns obtained better results.
However within the framework of PISA survey conducted in 2003, the Polish 15-year-olds obtained on average 497 points in the field of text comprehension. The OECD average for the year 2003 was 494 points. It was a better result than the result achieved in 2000, when Polish 15-year-olds obtained 479 points.

Source: Education Development Strategy 2007-2013.
Matura exam, in a new form (see:, so called new Matura exam (nowa matura) was organized for the first time in 2005. The average nationwide results in Polish are 67% for oral part and 51,63% at the standard level and 40,82% at the extended level for written part. The average nationwide results in foreign languages are 78,99% for written part and 71,83% for oral part at the standard level and 67,18% for written part and 78,72% for oral part at the extended level. As for students who took Matura exam in minority languages, all of them passed it positively. Matura exam is at the same time as the university admission exam.
In the Polish educational system Matura exam taken by school leavers from upper secondary schools is the first external language performance indicator. Modern foreign language is one of the compulsory subjects of this exam. This helps to describe the level of acquired language competences and skills at this education stage. The Matura exam may be taken either at the standard or extended level based on different examination standards laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 10 April 2003. The graduates of bilingual schools take the foreign language exam on one - bilingual level. There are also schools, which prepare to and organize International Baccalaureate.
The Foreign Language Standards of Attainment, which constitute the basis for the provision of Matura exam, cover areas and skills in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (knowledge, text reception and production, language interaction and mediation). In future this approach will allow making a direct comparison between the results of Matura exam and the Common European Framework.
The Central Examination Board started working on the development of such indicator in 2004. This work has not been completed yet. Therefore it is impossible to make precise match between the results of Matura exam and the Common European Framework. However having analyzed legal basis, examination standards and exemplary Matura examination sheets the average level of the exam on standard level was described as B1, exam on the extended level as B2 and the exam for bilingual classes as C1. The minimum pass result for the exam taken on standard level (30%) means that student taking the exam has obtained “basic communication skills” which corresponds to level A2. It is planned, as a follow-up, to analyze students’ work of this year’s exam and to correlate the percentage results of Matura exam with the level of competences described in the Common European Framework.

2.4.2. European dimension in language education

The effects of the language education are also visible within the framework of international contacts of Polish pupils. Inter-school exchange programmes, joint implementation of projects with schools from abroad, knowledge competitions in the fields of geography, history, culture and language of other countries and all sorts of celebrations and events have become permanent elements of daily life in Polish schools. In each issue of Języki Obce w Szkole (Foreign Languages in School), a magazine for teachers issued since 1957, the section called Sprawozdania (Reports) describes an international undertaking, which would not be possible if pupils and teachers could not communicate in different languages.
The European dimension of language education is reinforced by the following educational paths: European and regional education included in the Core Curriculum for education stage III and IV. The educational paths are not separate subjects so they do not have special timetables, specialist teachers or textbooks. The aim of educational paths is to provide pupils, in the simplest way, with an understanding of European issues and to teach them how to benefit from the possibilities of living, learning and working together in a common Europe. Foreign language teachers similarly to teachers of other subjects have an obligation to include European issues into foreign language lessons. The School Pedagogical Council and subjects departments (teachers of the same or similar subjects) take a decision concerning specific teaching content. Foreign language teachers like discussing during their lessons such issues as the history of the European integration process, integrating and disintegrating factors, Poland and the Poles in the process of building a common Europe, European countries and Poland’s way to Europe, system, procedures and areas of negotiation, the attitudes of the Member States and the Polish society to the enlargement of the European Communities, single European labour market and its accessibility for Polish citizens, the founding fathers of Europe: R. Schuman, A. De Gaspari, K. Adenauer and others. Depending on pupils’ language skills these issues may be discussed in more or less detailed way. During such lessons a foreign language is a tool used to transmit different subject contents.
The broadly understood European issues are present in the teaching content and educational path of civic education. The Council of Europe proclaimed the year 2005 - the European Year of Citizenship through Education. In practice, this means initiating pupils’ projects around such issues as the application of democratic procedures in schools, organizing class discussions and debates and raising interest in public life. Thanks to such activities, we can prepare young people to be citizens of united Europe, where different languages are communication tools.
The European dimension of foreign language teaching is particularly visible in the number and quality of implemented international projects and inter-school exchange programmes. eTwinning action of eLearning programme can be an example of good practice. Projects implemented within the framework of this Action are implemented with the use of computers by partner schools in Poland and other European countries. The level of ICT used by partner schools is different. It ranges from very simple e-mails to the last technological innovation - Podcast. The biggest number of exchange programmes was implemented in the school year 2004/05 in forms of cross-curricular projects. Foreign languages take the second place followed by history, civic education, religion and ethics, philosophy, theatre, music and dance. Schools participating in this Action compare own country with other countries, introducing European dimension into their own perception of the world. Language and digital technologies are also means of preparing youth to function in the European society. English is the most popular language used during the implementation of such projects, followed by German (see: 3.5.2).
Knowledge about Europe is disseminated in Poland through the activities of School European Clubs. Their aim is to teach the sense of European unity through the dissemination of knowledge about Europe, preparing youth to live and work in united Europe and promoting information about the European integration processes.
The first School European Clubs were established in Poland at the beginning of the 1990s. They are a form of cooperation between teachers and pupils. They operate in a similar way to other special interests groups. Young pupils learn such attitudes as active participation, tolerance, respect for cultural differences and other nations, they learn how to search information, work in a team and achieve complex targets. The School European Clubs should look for partner institutions both in Poland and other European countries by themselves. Schools that have School European Clubs organize knowledge competitions about Europe, evenings of European poetry, fairytales, “European discos”, they celebrate European Day and days of different European countries. The existence of the School European Clubs enhances and promotes foreign language learning in schools. There are 1443 registered School European Clubs in Poland but many more operate without any registration.

2.5. Language teachers

Until 1990 foreign language teachers, similarly to teachers of other subjects were trained only in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In 1990 the scope of initial teacher training in HEIs could not fulfill the needs of educational system. There were two main reasons for this situation:

  • sudden growing demand of educational system for teachers and in particular foreign language teachers due to the fact that Russian language teaching in schools was replaced by the introduction of western language teaching,

  • baby boomers starting school education at the beginning of 1990s.

Therefore Initial Foreign Language Teacher Training Colleges were established and persons without full teacher qualifications were permitted to work as teachers in schools. At present the issues of initial teacher training and qualifications required to work as a teacher in schools in different stages of education are regulated.

2.5.1. Initial teacher training

Foreign language teachers, similarly to teachers of other subjects, are trained within the framework of two systems:

  • higher education, on the basis of the provisions of the Act of 27 July 2005, on Higher Education (J. L. No 164, item1365),

  • education, on the basis of the provisions of the Act of 7 September 1991 on the Education System (J. L. of 2004 No 256, item 2572 with further amendments).

Teachers are trained in public and non-public Higher Education Institutions within the framework of:

  • Master’s degree studies in modern languages, specialization in a given foreign language or applied linguistics within the scope of a given foreign language,

  • Bachelor’s degree studies in modern languages, specialization in a given foreign language or applied linguistics within the scope of a given foreign language.

The system of initial teacher training in HEIs was changed on 1 October 2004. HEIs training teachers within the framework of Bachelor’s degree studies provide initial teacher training in two specializations (main and additional) enabling graduates to acquire qualifications in two subjects (in different types of activities). It is also possible to provide dual specialization initial teacher training within the Master’s degree studies.
Within the educational system foreign language teachers are trained in Initial Teacher Training Establishments, i.e. in Foreign Language Colleges. The rules concerning the operation of Foreign Language Colleges are laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 12 August 1997 on the operation of Initial Teacher Training Establishments (J. L. No 104, item 664).
Initial teacher training in a Foreign Language College is provided under the educational and teaching supervision of a HEI. Thanks to this system students of Foreign Language Colleges may obtain not only the diploma of the completion of the College but also a vocational title of Bachelor as well as may continue education within the complementary Master’s degree studies.
Foreign Language Colleges from their inception, i.e. from 1990, play a complementary role to foreign language teacher training provided by HEIs. At present there are 80 Foreign language Colleges providing training for teachers of the following foreign languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
Moreover, since 1990 - due to the sudden growing demand of the educational system for teachers – holders of a Master’s degree or a diploma of the completion of other higher vocational studies in any discipline (specialization) or a diploma of the accomplishment of training in an Initial Teacher Training Establishment in any specialization have been allowed to obtain qualifications necessary to teach foreign language in specific types of schools and establishments by obtaining a certificate of a foreign language proficiency, as well as undertaking a course in pedagogical and methodological background to a given language. The language exams are conducted by specialized institutions: English – the British Council, German – Goethe Institute and Austrian Institute, Spanish – Cervantes Institute, Italian –Italian Institute of Culture, French – French Institute.
All forms of initial foreign language teacher training are included in the provisions concerning qualifications, i.e. in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 10 September 2002 on detailed qualification requirements for teachers as well as the identification of schools and cases in which teachers without completed higher education or Initial Teacher Training Establishment may be employed. (J. L. No 155, item 1288).
57.500 students were trained in public and non-public HEI within the field of English, German, French and Russian language in the academic year 2004/05.
16.300 students studied in Foreign Language Colleges in 2004/05. Almost 4.500 obtained a diploma of the completion of Foreign Language College.

2.5.2. Initial teacher training standards

Teacher training standards were specified for all levels of education in HEIs, i.e. higher vocational studies, complementary Master’s degree studies, one-cycle five years Master’s degree studies and post-graduates studies in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 7 September 2004 on Teacher Training (J. L. No 207, item 2110). These standards specify the minimum number of hours of initial teacher training subjects such as: psychology, pedagogy, teaching specific subjects (330 hours), as well as the obligation of pedagogical apprenticeship (minimum 150 hours). Moreover, they also introduce an obligation to provide foreign language courses within a specified scope, which enables students to acquire advanced language competences (level of language proficiency - B2 Common European Framework) - in case of higher vocational studies, and B2+ - including training to use specialist terminology within the scope of a given discipline of studies – in case of Master’s degree studies) as well as a requirement concerning the provision of ICT courses preparing students to use ICT in the teaching a given subject or conducting other activities.
In case of studies of training dual language teachers, the level of proficiency in the second language represented by a graduate of higher vocational or Master’s degree studies should correspond to the level of language proficiency - C2 (Common European Framework).
These standards are particularly important for teachers of other subjects in bilingual schools.

2.5.3. Language and pedagogical training and language competences of teachers

Initial teacher training – including initial foreign language teacher training – covers specialist training within the scope of a given language, teacher training and pedagogical apprenticeships.
In accordance with the provisions in force initial teacher training includes the provision of minimum 270 hours of courses in scope of psychology, pedagogy and issues connected with foreign language teaching as well as a minimum of 150 hours of pedagogical apprenticeships.
Initial teacher training is provided on the compulsory basis in Foreign Language Colleges and each graduate of such College holds not only foreign language competence but is also prepared to teach this language. Graduates of studies in modern languages are only trained to teach a foreign language if they undertook a teaching specialization during their studies, completed courses in initial teacher training as well as carried out the appropriate number of hours of pedagogical apprenticeship.

Graduates of studies who did not follow the initial teacher-training module may complete such training during post-graduate studies or qualification course.

2.5.4 Qualification requirements for foreign language teachers and teachers teaching other subjects in a foreign language, national or ethnic minority teachers or mother tongue teachers.

Teachers’ qualifications are regulated by the Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 10 September 2002 on detailed qualification requirements for teachers as well as the definition of schools and cases in which teachers without completed higher education or Initial Teacher Training Establishment may be employed.
A person is deemed qualified to teach foreign languages or other subjects in a foreign language in schools, kindergartens, foreign language teacher training colleges, and establishments if s/he has completed Master degree studies in philology or applied linguistics in a given foreign language; or Bachelor or Master degree studies in a country where the official language is the same as the foreign language to be taught at school in Poland. It is also necessary to complete professional training (pedagogical preparation).
A person is qualified to teach foreign languages in schools, kindergartens and establishments if s/he holds a Bachelor diploma (a diploma of completed higher vocational studies) in philology or in a foreign language specialization or in applied linguistics in a given foreign language; or a foreign language teacher training college diploma in specialization of a given foreign language; or a Master or Bachelor diploma in any studies or specialization and a certificate of state teacher foreign language exam of the 2nd degree or a certificate of advanced command/proficiency in a foreign language as defined in the regulation. It is also necessary to complete professional training (pedagogical preparation).

A person is qualified to teach foreign languages in kindergartens, schools and establishments if s/he holds a diploma of teacher training college (Initial Teacher Training Establishment) in any specialization and a certificate of state teacher foreign language exam of the 1st or 2nd degree or a certificate of at least advanced command of a foreign language as defined in the regulation or a final upper secondary (Matura) exam and a certificate of state teacher foreign language exam of the 1st or 2nd degree. It is also necessary to complete professional training (pedagogical preparation).

Besides, a person is qualified to teach in kindergartens and in the first stage of primary school (grades I – III) if s/he holds a Master or Bachelor diploma in pedagogical studies or in specialization qualifying for work in kindergartens or in the first stage of primary school (grades 1-III) or a teacher training college (Initial Teacher Training Establishment) diploma in specialization qualifying for work in kindergartens or in the first stage of primary school (grades 1-III) as well as a certificate of at least basic knowledge of foreign language as defined in the regulation and a diploma of post graduate course or qualification course on teaching a foreign language to young learners.
A person is qualified to teach subjects – excluding foreign languages – and conducting classes in a foreign language in bi-lingual schools if s/he has all the necessary teaching qualifications for a given type of school and as regards the foreign language taught or the foreign language of instruction – a Master diploma in philology or applied linguistic in this language or a Bachelor diploma in philology or foreign language specialization or applied linguistics, or a Master or Bachelor diploma received in the country where the given foreign language is the official language of the country or a certificate of at least basic knowledge of foreign language as defined in the regulation.

Qualifications to teach or conduct activities in groups, departments, kindergartens or schools enabling pupils from ethnic or national minorities to maintain their sense of national, ethnic and language identity are held by a person who has qualifications required to work as a teacher in a given type of school or kindergarten and in addition has competence in a language that she/he teaches or uses to conduct activities. Nevertheless language competence should be certified by a diploma (certificate) or confirmed by the employing institution in agreement with a competent minority or ethnic association (union).

Teachers acquire qualifications to teach in a given minority or ethnic language by the completion of an appropriate modern languages or post-graduate studies, as it is the case of the Kashubian language.
Mother tongue teachers are trained during Master’s degree studies, higher vocational studies and in Teacher Training Colleges. People who completed Master’s degree studies in the specialization of the Polish language have qualifications to teach in all types of schools; people who completed higher vocational studies possess qualifications to work in primary, lower secondary and vocational schools and people who completed a Teacher Training College in the specialization of the Polish language may teach in primary and vocational schools.

2.5.5. Foreign language teachers – statistics

556 700 teachers – full timers and 176.100 teachers - part timers worked in education in the school year 2002/03. The total number of foreign language teachers in Poland is 68281.

Table below presents the number of foreign language teachers in Poland.

Foreign language teachers in Poland (2002/03)






















Other foreign languages






The table illustrates that teaching of two foreign languages of English and German is very prevalent. The second noticeable trend is that foreign language teachers work part time. They have (especially English language teachers) many job opportunities both in school education and in much better paid outside school education. Therefore, they often work in several institutions.

The table below presents the percentage of foreign language teachers possessing tertiary-level qualifications.


Higher education in %













Other foreign languages


Source: Ministry of National Education.
The above-mentioned statistics show that a majority of foreign language teachers are formally trained to work in this profession.
Teachers participate actively in in-service teacher training activities due to professional ambitions and possibilities of professional advancement.

2.5.6. Approaches and methods used by foreign language teachers in Poland

It is recommended to use a strong eclectic form of communication approach in foreign language teaching. This implies that teachers include other teaching methods, such as cognitive or direct methods into their teaching techniques. Communication approach was reinforced after the implementation of the reforms of educational system in Poland (1999) due to the fact that these reforms clearly indicated the change of the teaching paradigm from knowledge based to skills based.
The communication learner-oriented methods are also the most popular approaches used during language courses organized in the system of out of school education. There are language schools in Poland, which work in accordance with Callan and Berlitz’s method. Courses for the youngest children that are conducted according to Hellen Doron’s method are also popular. The superlearning and NLP (Neuro- Linguistic programming) methods are also known and applied during language courses. Elements of these methods are also used in foreign language teaching methodology in order to increase the effectiveness of education.
There is lack of broad analysis of working methods used by foreign language teachers. The conclusions of inspection reports, surveys conducted on small groups of teachers, discussions with methodological advisers as well as published and second-hand pupils’ opinion show that innovative methods and simulation techniques are not very popular. Teachers still prefer traditional working methods, which are mainly focused on the transmission of knowledge and checking learning outcomes. Too little emphasis is put on the development of pupil’s autonomy and his/her communication competences.

2.6. Language policy

In accordance with Article 21 of the Act of 7 September 1991 r. on the Education System the state overall language policy is coordinated and implemented by the competent Minister of National Education in cooperation with the Voivods and other authorities and units responsible for the operation of educational system.
The changes introduced in the educational policy to date show that all the initiatives undertaken by the Minister of Education were going in a good direction. During the last 15 years the following activities were undertaken, which influenced the position of foreign language teaching in the education system:

  • Introduction of teaching of 2 freely chosen foreign languages into the school system starting 1990 (see 2.2) combined with the abolition of compulsory Russian language teaching

  • Year 2004/2005

  • Introduction of 3- and 4-year Bachelor Degree studies in higher vocational schools and in many faculties of modern languages, at the same time promoting initial teacher training through academic studies in the years 1992-1996 (see: 2.5)

  • Lowering the age of children starting foreign language learning to the grade 4 of the primary school and introduction of vital changes to the assessment and examination system (see 2.2, 2.4).

The above-mentioned reforms enabled pupils, parents and Headmasters to choose languages taught in school education system depending on available human resources. They also reinforced the status of foreign languages as compulsory or optional school subjects, defined teaching rules and procedures, enabled the introduction of changes into the assessment and examination system as well as guaranteed initial teacher training which trains teachers to respond quickly to the changing needs of their pupils.
The overall state policy in matters connected with the protection of the rights of national and ethnic minorities as well as the rights of communities using regional language is under the guidelines of the minister responsible for religions as well as national and ethnic minorities (at present within the competence of the Minister of Interior and Administration).
Educational matters, in particular those connected with teaching minority languages and the regional language fall within the competence of the minister responsible for education. Both ministries: Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Interior and Administration cooperate with one another within the framework of the Interdepartmental Team for National and Ethnic Minorities coordinated by the Ministry of Interior. The Strategy for the Development of Lithuanian Minority Education in Poland as well as Draft Strategy for the Development of German Minority Education in Poland were developed as a result of these common actions in 2001 and 2004 respectively.
The Joint Committee of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities established on the basis of the Act of 6 January 2005 on national and ethnic minorities and regional languages started its activities in September 2005. Working group for education of national and ethnic minorities (which will continue the work of the above mentioned Interdepartmental Team) is one of the bodies of this Committee.
Education of Romany children is a separate issue. Romany language is not taught in Polish public schools (except for lack of teachers, Romany people are not interested in the provision of teaching of this language within the system of public education. However, another problem occurs. Romany children starting their school education have low competence in Polish or they do not know this language at all. It is necessary to organize for them complementary, remedial classes of Polish language and other subjects. The system solved this problem by adopting the Governmental Program for Romany society in Poland, 2004-2014. This program is coordinated by the Ministry of Interior and Administration. The Ministry of National Education is also very actively involved in the implementation of the educational module of this program, transferring funds to local authorities for the organization of pre-school education as well as remedial education for pupils of Romany origin.
The provision of teaching of languages of national or ethnic minorities or the regional Kashubian language (see: 2.2.7.) is under the responsibility of a Headmaster who has received from parents (16- year-old pupils) a written request for the provision of such activities. If a given school has not such resources to provide minority language teaching (or regional language teaching) because of insufficient number of people enrolled for the course of this language or lack of a teacher, the Headmaster forwards the list of people signed up for such a course to the local authority responsible for the school administration and management, which – taking into account transport possibilities – shall organize inter-school teaching departments.
Local authorities responsible for running the schools and Headmasters cooperate with organizations of national and ethnic minorities in Poland to implement the aforementioned tasks.
The competent Local Educational Superintendents (Kuratorzy) supervise the appropriate implementation of the tasks aiming to maintain the sense of language and cultural identity of national and ethnic minorities.

2.6.1. Forms of language education – competences taught during lessons of the Polish language

It is well known that the earlier language education starts, the earlier children become interested in languages in general and are keen to learn them. The language education in mother tongue begins when a child starts speaking. Well provided language education will teach competences which will facilitate foreign language learning in future. That is why teaching of national language i.e. Polish is very well emphasized in Polish education system.

The Regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 12 February 2002 on the framework plans concerning teaching in public schools (J. L. No 15, item 142, with further amendments) constitutes the basis for the provision of the Polish language teaching.
In accordance with the provisions of the above-mentioned legal act the weekly spread of hours allocated to Polish language teaching in different types of school/stage of education is as follows:

-Primary school:

  • Grades I - III – 54 hours of integrated teaching

  • Grades IV – VI – 16 hours of Polish

- Lower secondary schools, grades I – III – 14 hours of Polish

- General upper secondary school, grades I – III 14 hours of Polish

- Specialised upper secondary school, grades I – III - 14 hours of Polish

- Technical secondary school, grades I – IV 14 hours of Polish

- Vocational school, grades I – II 5 hours of Polish.
The competences acquired by pupils are assessed at the end of education stage II, III and IV (see: 2.4.1.). Test in grade VI of primary school

Polish language is a subject taught in primary schools (approximately 6 hours a week). Skills taught during this subject are assessed not only within the system of internal assessment but also in a system of external exams i.e. by way of a written test, which is conducted in the last - sixth grade of primary school. It is a cross-curricular test, which means that it checks these skills and competences which are taught within the framework of all subjects and which are important in further stages of education and in life. Teachers cover the test standards while preparing the pupils to sit this test. These standards result from the binding Core Curriculum. Teaching curricula should comply with the Core Curriculum and standards.
Skills and competences, which are externally assessed:

  • reading,

  • writing,

  • understanding,

  • use of information,

  • practical use of knowledge

The tasks of the test are not divided into parts representing particular school subjects. Nevertheless pupils of grade VI must show, amongst other things, that they have the skills and competences necessary to understand literature text and produce different forms of written texts, such as essay description, report, minutes, letter, telegram, invitation, notice, advertisement, instruction and recipe.
Reading skills are assessed with the use of closed tasks. Writing skills are assessed with the use of open tasks. Pupils write a longer text in accordance with the instruction, which includes requirements concerning the form and content of the text.

The assessment criteria concerning a written work i.e. production skills of different types of written texts include the text consistency, focus, grammaticalness (orthography, punctuation), layout (division into paragraphs, clarity).

A pupil may receive a maximum number of 40 points, including: 10 points for reading, 10 points for writing, 8 points for understanding, 4 points for use of information and 8 points for practical use of knowledge. The assessment rules are published in the Exam guidelines (Informator do sprawdzianu).

It is a competence - based test. There is not a minimum pass standard. The results of this exam do not affect the pupil’s final marks. Feedback on assessment results should help a school to improve its quality performance and a pupil to be aware of his/her strengths and weaknesses. Examination in grade III of lower secondary school

Just as is the case of the primary school, at lower secondary school, Polish is taught as an individual subject. Skills typical for the Polish language subject are assessed within the school’s internal and external system, i.e. in a written standardized test. Students take this examination in grade III of lower secondary school. The test is of inter-subject character, which means that exam requirements incorporate relationship between individual fields of knowledge. In other words, only Polish language-related skills taught within other subjects are tested.

The examination consists of two parts: the first includes skills and knowledge in the field of humanities: Polish, history, civics, art and music, and incorporates the following educational paths: Philosophical education; Regional education – cultural heritage in a given region; Reading and media education; European education; and Polish culture in the context of Mediterranean culture. The second incorporates knowledge and skills in the field of sciences.

According to the provisions of standard testing requirements, externally tested skills in the scope of humanities include:

  • reading comprehension of culture-related texts – on the literal, metaphorical and symbolic levels, the interpretation of culture-related texts, which are broadly understood and include literary and journalistic texts, as well as scientific texts for general public and various sources of information: legal acts, illustrations, maps, tables, diagrams, graphs, charts. Apart from journalistic and scientific texts for general public, the humanities examination sheet includes literary texts,

  • writing your own text the tested forms of expression include: description, short story, characterization, report, review, essay, note, plan, reportage, article, interview, announcement, invitation, inscription, application letter, letter, diary. Moreover, students’ linguistic and stylistics competences are tested.

In the examination sheets, the ability to read and comprehend culture-related texts is assessed with the use of a closed test, and ability to write your own text is tested with the use of two tasks requiring a longer answer. Students taking the examination write a functional text and express themselves in a prescribed longer from, such as: an essay, review, report, short story, description, characterization, reportage, diary, letter. Other vital skills taught at Polish lessons, to mention expressing your opinion, the formulation of arguments and basic rhetorical skills, are tested with questions requiring short answers.

The assessment criteria for a functional text include: content-relatedness (substance), composition (the use of formal features characteristic of a given form of expression), style, language (correct syntax, inflection, lexis), notation (spelling and punctuation). These tasks are awarded from 0 to 5 points.
The assessment criteria for a longer written expression pertain to: content and form relatedness, composition, style and language (vocabulary, phraseology, syntax, lexis and the consistence of the style with the form of expression), notation – spelling and punctuation. For a longer written expression students may be awarded a maximum of 16 points out of the total 50 for the performance of tasks in the humanities part of the examination.
Specific skills related with reading comprehension of culture-related texts and the writing of your own text have been included in standard testing requirements, which constitute the basis for administration of the examination.
The competence test is universal and compulsory. Taking the examination is a prerequisite for graduation. However, it does not affect students’ end of the year assessment.

The result of the competence test plays an informative and selective role. It is taken into consideration when admitting students to upper secondary schools. The Matura Examination

The Matura Examination (Secondary Education Graduation Examination) taken upon the completion of secondary education is an optional one. Only the leavers of upper secondary schools entitled to take the exam may sit it. These include general secondary schools, specialised secondary schools, technical secondary schools and supplementary general secondary schools. Secondary education graduation certificate obtained as a result of taking the matura examination gives the right to continue education at schools of higher education, teacher training colleges and post-secondary schools.
Polish exam is a subject-related one and consists of an oral and written part. It constitutes a compulsory part of the matura exam. It verifies skills indispensable for further education, professional work and life, and which include speaking (preparing and making a presentation), participating in a conversation, understanding of a non-literary text (journalistic, scientific text for general public), the reception of literary texts and writing of your own text.
The oral part of this examination is organized at school and assessed by the examination board, established by the school head, which includes at least one person employed in a different school.
The oral exam consists of two parts: presentation of a chosen topic and discussion on the presentation. The first part of the exam lasts 15 minutes, the second – around 10. The oral exam is designed to assess the skills linked to self-teaching: searching for information, its selection, formulating of theses, research hypothesis and arguments, as well as expressing opinions, preparing bibliography, delivering of the presentation and participation in the discussion.
Presentation topics for the oral exam are prepared at school and pupils choose them from the school list at the beginning of the school year in which they will take the examination. The pupil spends the whole school year working on the presentation.
The exam is assessed according to the uniform, centrally defined criteria. They address such aspects as the content of the presentation in relation to the chosen topic, structure of the presentation, discussion, and language proficiency (the proficiency is assessed on the basis of the presentation and discussion). The pupil can receive a maximum of 20 points for the oral part of the examination. No level of language proficiency is defined for the oral exam.
The written part is an external exam assessed by independent examiners, trained and registered by the regional examination boards. The examination tasks are prepared by the Central Examination Board in cooperation with the regional boards.
The written exam can be taken at standard and extended level. The following skills are assessed at the standard level: reading comprehension of a non-literary text, writing of your own text related with a literary text listed in the Matura Guide as compulsory reading for this level. Sheet I (standard level) consists of a non-literary text and test verifying understanding of the text, as well as two topics for an essay. Each topic is prepared for a different literary text or its fragment. An examinee selects one topic and writes an essay connected with it. Examination requirements apply to the reception of the text at the level of the idea.
At the extended level, i.e. in sheet II, you will also find two topics relating to different literary texts. The topic instructions require an analysis and interpretation of a text, with which a student may be unfamiliar, i.e. a text that has not been included in the Matura Guide list. The requirements at the extended level differ from these at the standard level mainly in this sense that they require the reading of the text not only at the level of idea, but also at the level of language structure.
At both levels, content relatedness, composition, style and language (correctness of syntax, inflection, phraseology, lexis and word-formation) of the essay, as well as notation (spelling and punctuation) are assessed. Also at both levels, students may obtain additional points for unique attributes of their work.
The marking pattern at individual levels of the exam place emphasis on different planes of the essay; language, style and composition (50% of total points) at basic level, and content-relatedness of the work (60% of total points) at extended level.

2.6.2. Forms of language education – the role of the European Language Portfolio

The aims and content of foreign language teaching in Poland are consistent with the recommendations included in the document by the Council of Europe “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment” which was translated into Polish in 2003.
Legal regulations reflect the importance of language education in the Polish educational system – foreign language learning is compulsory for children aged 10 and more. Pursuant to the current core curriculum, languages are to be used for communication between people, learning about other cultures, shaping the attitude of openness and independence in learning. The document of the Council of Europe entitled Common European Framework of Reference for Languages was translated into Polish in 2003. In the years preceding the Polish edition, the ideas included in the document had been propagated among foreign language teachers in original language versions via the system of in-service teacher training. The contents and aims of foreign language teaching in Poland have been consistent with these included in CEF.

The support for and appreciation of foreign language teaching in Polish educational system is especially evident in the importance of the role European Language Portfolio plays in language education of children, youth and adults. The Portfolio for children aged 10-15 was the first to obtain the accreditation of the Council of Europe. It was followed by the ones for the adults and children aged 6-10. The Portfolio for students of upper secondary schools and HEIs is at the second stage of a pilot programme. Also the Portfolio for children aged 3-6 is at the pilot stage. At the end of 2006 students and teachers at Polish schools will be able to work on European Language Portfolio at all levels of language education.

European Language Portfolio not only facilitates mastering linguistic competence and skills, as well as communication competence recommended by CEF, but mainly facilitates the development of independence in language learning, recognizing and evaluating one’s progress, as well as establishing aims for further learning and methods for achieving them. It helps to develop language awareness in small children and openness to other languages. It excites curiosity about the world and knowledge, and also develops motivation for learning. The Portfolio also stands for a belief that you can become successful as a language learner.
The Ministry of National Education finances the European Language Portfolio project as an element of consistently implemented language education.

2.6.3. Forms of language education – bilingual education - CLIL

Bilingual teaching has been present in Poland since early 1960s. However, it was only in the years 1991/1992 that it gained popularity. At present, schools with bilingual classes operate in general upper secondary schools and lower secondary schools. In these schools, the second language of instruction is English, German, French, Spanish or Italian.
There are 39 bilingual schools with English, 35 with German, 7 with French, 5 with Spanish and 1 with Italian as the second language.
Pursuant to legal regulations in force, bilingual teaching means teaching other subjects in Polish and the second language of instruction. Usually, the second language is used for the teaching of two-three subjects, which most often include mathematics, physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology and hygiene, general history, world geography and computer science. The school leavers can take matura exam in all these subjects pursuant to relevant legal regulations. Bilingual teaching can be conducted during Polish, history, geography of Poland and foreign language lessons.
With the new matura examination, new standards pertaining to the second language of instruction examinations at the bilingual level have been introduced along with the possibility to take the matura exam in the bilingually taught subject. The same premises and uniform structure for all the languages govern the exam in the second language of instruction. Examination sheets with French and Spanish as the second language of instruction include additional tasks. This results from bilateral agreements on matura examinations concluded by the Ministry of National Education and Sport with the French Embassy (1997 and 2001) and the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Spain (1997 and 2004).
The leavers of the schools with German as the second language of instruction can study in Germany without the need to take the language competence exam, which is compulsory for all foreigners. It is so because the German part has made it possible for them to take DSDII group exam at the level of matura exam. The leavers of schools with English as the second language of instruction very often carry out International Baccalaureate programme. At present, 11 general secondary schools in Poland offer IB programme. Thanks to concluded international agreements, the leavers of schools with French and Spanish as the second language of instruction have the right to take additional exams, which are included in educational systems in France and Spain. The successful passing of these exams entitles them to apply for admission to schools of higher education in those countries on the same rules as their citizens do.
The idea of CLIL is also implemented in cross-curricular educational paths (see section 2.4).
CLIL is also applied in higher education institutions. Foreign language teaching in HEI is conducted in the form of foreign language courses. Every student admitted to a full time or part-time course is entitled to a voucher for a given number of foreign language classes funded by the school budget. The number of foreign language classes varies from 120 to 480. Students are admitted to groups with different advancement levels based on diagnostic tests. Students can choose from English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian language courses, however the largest number of them decides on English.
At the courses, general language is taught, however at the majority of them specialised texts are being introduced, and in many cases the courses are completed with a specialised language exam.
Other forms of CLIL type activities are described in 3.5.2.

2.6.4. Forms of language education – out-of-school language education

The out of school education has been mentioned in section 2.3 of this report, however, you cannot miss on it in this section. The majority of Poles believe that foreign language learning, and in particular, English language learning, is very important in their lives and the lives of their children. The command of a foreign language allows you to study abroad, is a precondition for finding a good job, and is indispensable in your professional career. At the same time, the results of language teaching at schools are critically looked at, quite often without taking into consideration the fact that mastering a language requires time and hard work. In the quest for fast success, parallel with school education a language is learnt at private language schools.
One of the consequences of this phenomenon has been a tremendous development of out of school educational service sector in the scope of foreign language teaching. Language schools offer foreign language courses for all age groups. Their offer includes general language, courses, courses preparing for globally recognized language proficiency certificates, for matura exams, as well as specialised language courses. As a result of Poland’s entering the European Union, specialised language courses for specific professional groups are gaining popularity among doctors, nurses, lawyers and economists.

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