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TEFL: Making progress in Poland

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nomad soul

Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11454
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 10:52 pm    Post subject: TEFL: Making progress in Poland Reply with quote

Making progress in Poland
By Anna Rogalewicz-Galucka, ELGazette | 2016 May

As everything changes around us, English language teaching does not remain static either. In Poland we have seen several new developments.

The live lessons that feature at the IATEFL Poland conferences are a unique opportunity for teachers to observe their colleagues (including some well-known teacher trainers) teaching groups of students. Visiting skilled colleagues as a means to improve our own skills is hardly a new idea – all kinds of professionals use classroom observation as a way to learn more and more deeply about their craft. Professional educators have been doing so for years. We hope that this form of workshop will become more and more popular among presenters and conference participants, not only in Poland.

Non-native teachers who do not feel comfortable with their own command of English can attend advanced lessons aimed at developing their language. Our conference has been the first teachers’ gathering to offer language development sessions for language teachers and to invite real students to live lessons.

If you look at the discussions online by people teaching English to young learners at Polish state schools, the most common topic is looking for materials to work with. The reason is that in 2014 the government introduced reforms – coursebooks are supplied by schools free of charge and are reusable. That means pupils borrow their coursebooks from the library for the whole school year and return them for other students to use next year. The coursebook is supposed to last three years.

As much as parents like the idea of not having to pay for coursebooks, the new rules present many challenges, especially for teachers. The main thing is that students are no longer allowed to write in the student books, which were adapted by the publishers. So for a gap-fill exercise there are no blanks but black blocks instead, so students are not able to write there. Instead they jot down the answers in their notebooks. There are resources available online but again most of them are not interactive at all. It is just like looking at a pdf file on your computer and not even being able to print it. The students have to do the digitally presented tasks in their notebooks.

Experienced teachers know how to work without a coursebook, but newly qualified teachers and those used to lessons following a regular coursebook are finding the reforms challenging and often frustrating. They were thrown into the deep end without any training provided upfront. Many started making their own materials, or printing worksheets from online sources.

There have been many interesting developments in the area of language teaching on the tertiary level of Polish education. Students finishing secondary school generally come to university with much better general English competence than in the past, so university language centres have modified their offer to meet the changed needs of students. That is why ESP has become the main focus of language education at the university level. Thanks to this new emphasis, students gain crucial language skills to make them more competitive in the jobs market, as knowledge of ESP is appreciated by employers.

At the same time the number of international students joining Polish universities is growing. This situation is good for our universities as they slowly become truly cross-cultural. Because of this university language centres have gained the new task of supporting teaching staff as far as professional language competences are concerned. At the same time these language centres often organise courses to help international students to bridge any gaps in their English language education, and by this enable them to take full advantage of what the universities have to offer.

The activity of IATEFL Poland also mirrors these changes, as ESP and Global Issues special interest groups have been set up, organising conferences and workshops which are a platform for experience-exchange and networking, both Polish and international.

(End of article)
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Sgt Bilko

Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 136
Location: POLAND

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I would have to say that having books which belong to the school and which you can't write in, is probably a good thing. If students just fill in gaps in an exercise in a Student's Book (which are usually too small for everything to fit so it ends up being an illegible scrawl) they probably never look at it again.

If teachers instead make them write out the entire sentence in their notebooks, it's a better written record. Girls' notebooks tend to be better than boys' - neat, use of colour / underlining to show structures.

Plus, and this cannot be denied, it's nice for a teacher when a gap fill exercise lasts 10 minutes because everyone is writing whole sentences, than 1 minute because they are just writing e.g. was or were.

Mass printing of materials was always a sign of an inexperienced teacher who felt uncomfortable without them. I remember a great book - possibly called Learner Based Teaching - which was full of activities which would normally be photocopied but which could be done just as effectively by getting students to create the materials. (or even more effectively)
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Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1650
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 10:11 am    Post subject: Here's another good 1. Reply with quote

Vicki Hollett's 'In at the Deep End'. Great for Task-Based Learning.

I like using course books and think they are essential as a core syllabus. Modern course books provide the methodology (many a TEFLer's weak point), practice, the vocabulary bank and grammar reference. They also incorporate interactive learning.

I remember doing wow-lessons from handouts as a newbie. They make you popular and you can do them again and again. However, often they put style over substance. Teaching 20-30 hours a week, you soon run out of steam, especially if teaching across the level spectrum.

The ideal situation is supplementing a book when necessary with communicative activities.

Nothing new is going on in Poland re EFL. They did not re-invent the wheel.
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Joined: 15 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who the heck would want to teach ESL in Poland?! That place is a dump.
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Joined: 04 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 2:07 pm    Post subject: nope Reply with quote

It's a beautiful country on the up. It's TEFL there that's the shitter.
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Master Shake

Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1202
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TEFL in most non-English speaking countries is pretty sketchy and unprofessional. It's not, nor ever has been, unique to Poland.

If you think the industry's bad in Poland, check out South East Asia. You'll suddenly appreciate even the dodgy schools and 'illiterate' native speakers in Poland. Wink
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Joined: 03 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who the heck would want to teach ESL in Poland?! That place is a dump.

I wouldn't want to teach ESL in Poland, but I would be interested in teaching EFL there.

One man's dump, another man's garden.

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Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1562
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have worked in Poland, but making enough money is the issue.

Not sure if you can be an ELF in Poland, but there are programs for Ukraine and over in Minsk.
I know an ELF up in Estonia.
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