• February 29, 2024
  • 115

Polish language teachers face new challenges. How to adjust learning Polish language to the needs of a student in the 21st century?

The Faculty of Philology of Vilnius University held a scientific and educational workshop for school youth and teachers as a part of the Academia Polonica meetings. One of the main topics of this gathering was Polish language teaching in primary and middle schools.

Danuta Szejnicka, the chair of the Polish Language Teachers Association in Lithuania, recommends a thorough familiarization the core curriculum and skilful planning to cultivate key student abilities. – They are the ones responsible for cognitive, communicational, cultural, creative, and digital abilities. There can also be mentioned the acquisition of new knowledge, selection, and development of learning strategies. Socio-emotional competence is very important – lists the Polish language teacher.

While planning a lesson you should set a goal and prepare new materials. –This way there could be lectures about Vilnius, Vilnius region, Lithuania but also applied materials and popular science beside classic set texts. They are to help the student dive into the modern Polish language and enrich their sensible vocabulary – explains Szejnicka to the LRT.lt.

According to the interlocutor, the biggest challenge is the ability to link the core curriculum with interactive resources. Next is media education. – This way they can use media sources, study them critically, see which ones are reliable, and how to properly read them. The student is to be a creator who plays the part of the journalist – prepares and gives an interview, writes electronic letters, and creates photojournals. That way they cultivate their communicational and digital awareness. Polish language teachers’ role is to educate a self to be able to use the language efficiently, find themselves in communicational situations, process the acquired knowledge, and find imaginative solutions – emphasizes the pedagogue.

During the meeting, the topic of changes in extracurricular reading was also discussed. – The new list of set books is not much different from the previous one. It gathers profound background reading from ancient times up to present times, just as in the older version. It ends with “Primeval and Other Times” by Olga Tokarczuk. However, in younger grades, particularly in primary schools, students, along with the teachers, can pick their set books in accordance with the parameters. – states Szejnicka.

Helena Germanowicz, the teacher of the Polish and French languages at the Konstanty Parczewski Middle School in Nemenčinė, is teaching 5th grades as of right now. – I want to teach the students how to correctly communicate, speak up and write. The most important is to explain the basis, only after that I can introduce other challenges. That’s why we read regularly. We already covered  “In Desert and Wilderness” by Henryk Sienkiewicz, and now we’re going through “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, “The Barrel Organ” by Bolesław Prus, and “The Paul Street Boys” by Ferenc Molnar. Those works of art are intertwined with modern texts – the teacher points out for the LRT.lt.

During classes, the students make their notes on their own, use ‘sketchnoting’, they draw mind maps to organize the knowledge in their heads. Things we don’t know and understand ourselves are just dull. By watching videos and looking at pictures we can tell more about the characters’ image. I’m also making comparisons to the modern world. The students like these interactive lessons a lot, and they need them too.  They know, that if they are bored then there won’t be any motivation left. Of course, similar lessons require a lot of effort from the teacher: one needs to note down something, come up with something, analyze something. Kids sometimes rebel, for sure, because they prefer to just sit and listen, but they need to show their creativity. – smiles the teacher.

Germanowicz emphasizes that classes interact actively with the libraries. – Our school’s library has organized Valentine’s event called ‘A Blind Meeting with a Book’. It consisted of students taking books based solely on the description, with no chance to see the cover or go through it. Displays about authors are also being made. We’ve had a separate lesson about Astrid Lindgren. There are a lot of mandatory set books but we can’t go without the present.  I wish for reading to become a pleasant activity to do in the free time. Working life requires overcoming a lot of obstacles, but the students help me with that. I like working with them – says the teacher.

During the Academia Polonica meeting Dorota Mamaj, the director of the Polish Institute in Vilnius, invited Polish language teachers to ‘library lessons’. –We work with schools in a very open and innovative way. During the library lessons, the students are encouraged to sign in to our library, get to know new books, and develop a taste for reading. Last year’s lessons were dedicated to that year’s patrons that were announced both by the Polish and Lithuanian parliaments. Similar meetings for children and youth are very pleasant.  During the workshop, led by the institute’s coordinator Anna Krawczyk, mini-lessons are being carried out. The students are taking the creative work – they create postcards, express their good withes – says the director.

If a Polish language teacher is interested in taking part in the Institute’s library lessons, they can contact the office. Mamaj ensures that the admission will always be accepted.

-Academia Polonica is a wonderful initiative. I hope that it will continue to promote Polish language teaching and improve teacher qualifications. It is the first step that we took, but definitely not the last. We are counting on the May and Autumn sessions. The Polish Institute in Vilnius will take an active part in this. Academia Polonica’s targets fit our institution’s goals well – popularization of the Polish language and culture. It is an honor and merit to achieve this with such a partner as Vilnius University – she says for LRT.lt.

Professor Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, the dean of the Philology Department at Vilnius University, states that he’s positively surprised with the high attendance at the first Academia Polonica meeting. – The fact that the interest in Polish philology increases means that more students will come our way and that gratifies us. I think that Academia Polonica is a new age in our academic community. – thinks the dean.

-We invite Polish school graduates to the Polish Philology school, but the youth from Lithuanian schools can join us as well. The knowledge of the Polish language comes the knowledge of a whole region. Therefore, new possibilities appear. Our students can also pick classes from different departments. As of right now, 25 percent of subjects are elective at Vilnius University. The option to combine different fields with modern knowledge is worth the attention. We collaborate with Polish universities on a deep level. However, besides student exchange program, we also care about a collaboration with Polish facilities all over the Europe – appeals Kvietkauskas.

Translated by Patrycja Płocha within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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