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Various education and school issues in Poland. Opinions, stories, controversies.


delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
21 Mar 2019  #31
But I doubt they will ever be able to make it so fair.

I think it's absolutely impossible. For instance, I work with one teacher who is frankly embarrassingly incompetent. She doesn't know anything that isn't in the textbook, but because she's incredibly nice (and her subject isn't tested), parents and pupils love her. Her lack of knowledge is excruciating, and she has little interest in the life of the school, but her 'performance' is high.

Pawian, how do you handle cheating during tests in the classroom? My policy is this -

1st class - paper torn up (for dramatic effect) and a big fat "F" given to them on a A4 piece of paper. Usually does the trick, and after one gets caught, they won't cheat again for a while. They get to do it again in peace, and normally I'll find them during the normal school day to come and do it again. I'll tell the parents, but always with a "please don't give them into trouble, let them discuss it with you first" comment.

2nd/3rd class - paper torn up and parents informed. No consequences, but they have to come and do it again after school.
4th class - paper torn up, parents informed and a mild telling off about what they've done. They also need to come and do it again after school.

5th-8th - paper torn up, parents informed, and a severe lecture about not doing it again. They don't get to do it again, it just gets counted as a 1. They also have some punishment homework, which usually gets picked to bring them some suffering - for instance, having to learn and act out a short piece for the rest of the class.

I'd personally rather not give classes 1-3 any tests at all, but stupid parents...
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
21 Mar 2019  #32
If performance pay is construed to deal with such factors efficiently, then I am for.

E.g., how can they evaluate performance when oral exam is concerned? I mean foreign language one, of course. It appears for the first time during a high school final exam. What benchmark can be used for students who have never needed to speak English before because junior high school put main stress on written tasks? I sometimes deal with first year students who can`t properly introduce themselves. And I am expected to teach them fluent communication within 3 years? Good luck.

BTW, look how an oral English exam looks like. Students take it when they are 19.

First, two minute warm up conversation with banal questions like :What do you usually eat for breakfast? What is your fav TV programme? etc

Next, 3 minute dialogue about a set situation: See the photos below

E.g.,
You are talking to a Norwegian mate who is considering a trip to Poland. Refer to the following: Accommodation, Possible Dangers, Places worth seeing, The best Time for a visit

Next, 4 minute picture based task: Describe the picture and answer 3 questions: Why does the person have to stay in bed? Would you like to be a nurse or a doctor? Describe a time when you had to stay in bed because of an illness or injury.

The last task lasts 5 minutes. Choose one picture and reject the other two, providing arguments. E..g, you are looking for a summer job. Which one would you choose?

Then students are asked two questions out of four:

E.g,
What are the disadvantages of getting a summer job?
Would you prefer to find a summer job in your country or abroad?





Lyzko 20 | 6,340
21 Mar 2019  #33
Problem is though, the textbooks appear to be written almost exclusively in Polish! How then will the learners of English become immersed in the target language unless either a native English instructor, at the very least, a target language text, is used regularly?

For very young learners, I can understand, but as for more advanced high schoolers, I can't imagine how.
Guess it depends on the school system, funding, and so forth.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
21 Mar 2019  #34
Being totally unfamiliar with the Matura exam Pawian, is it conducted in pairs, or individually with examiners?
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
21 Mar 2019  #35
1st class - paper torn up (for dramatic effect) and a big fat "F" given to them on a A4 piece of paper.

Oops, you are strict! :) When I discover they are trying to use smartphones to translate words, I tell them to put them away. But it happens quite seldom as I walk around the classroom all the time. :):)

the Matura exam Pawian, is it conducted in pairs, or individually with examiners?

A few years ago there were three of us, today 2, including one teacher from another school.

Problem is though, the textbooks appear to be written almost exclusively in Polish!

Not really. Most books are fully in English, only vocabulary banks allow Polish translations. Sometimes books have exercises with Polish instructions. Poland is a part of the global market, these books are sold everywhere, so serious publishers won`t bother with making a book exclusively in Polish.

Look at this Revision Book, one of my fav.
eshop.egis.com.pl/matura-repetytorium-p-rozszerzony-podr-niewieloletni-kod-digibook-id-1574

eshop.egis.com.pl/dane/full/e/e06139ee30dd4427823b31fbb0c6d518.jpg
mafketis 17 | 6,897
21 Mar 2019  #36
How then will the learners of English become immersed in the target language

Not the point of language classes in public schools (where the secondary benefits of language learning are more important)...
Lyzko 20 | 6,340
21 Mar 2019  #37
These then are authored by the BC in the United Kingdom, right?

Solid point, Maf. I wasn't able to enlarge unfortunately and so couldn't see right away for which age group the instruction was
intended!
mafketis 17 | 6,897
22 Mar 2019  #38
how do you handle cheating during tests in the classroom?

My preferred method is to make cheating pointless. I'm big on open book tests... they don't help unprepared students but for students who know the material they relieve some unnecessary stress... though mostly tests are kind of pointless, I'm almost never really surprised by the results.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
22 Mar 2019  #39
Likewise. Every single year, I bring forward a proposal to get rid of tests and exams and to replace them with something more practical, and every year, I'm told "...parents expect tests and grades". It doesn't matter how much evidence I bring, or how well the point is argued, it's just the same old story.

I remember when I first started in my current job, I gave some 4th class kids an open book test - they had to prepare a comic strip, using any materials they could find. Of course, one parent whined, because she wasn't able to prepare her darling child in advance and it wasn't a fair test blah blah blah.
Shitonya Brits
22 Mar 2019  #40
It doesn't matter how much evidence I bring, or how well the point is argued, it's just the same old story.

We know what they are going through with you.

You're no different in real life as you are online.

Please pass them our sympathies.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
22 Mar 2019  #41
We know what they are going through with you.

Don't worry. I appreciate that you have no idea about working life.
mafketis 17 | 6,897
22 Mar 2019  #42
I'm told "...parents expect tests and grades".

I have no problem with grades, but the idea that exams (separate from actual classes) are much of a indication... no. They're not except in extremely broad ways.
Shitonya Brits
22 Mar 2019  #43
Why don't you take your alternative ideas regarding teaching and testing to an all Jewish school?
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
22 Mar 2019  #44
but the idea that exams (separate from actual classes) are much of a indication... no.

This is the exact discussion I've had time and time again. I've only ever had one use for exams, and that was for determining entry into advanced classes. I devised a system where we would run Cambridge examinations for school kids, but the specialist classes would only be open to those that actually wanted to prepare for the exams. The entry exams are effectively a way of weeding out those that didn't want to learn - if they couldn't be bothered to learn something for the entry test, it was unlikely they'd be interested in a year-long course with an exam at the end.

As for the poster above, his jealousy and bitterness suggests that he never achieved much with his life.
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
23 Mar 2019  #45
Guys, I find it so fascinating that we disagree at last. :) Better late than never. :)

Well, I am a great fan of testing and examining. Polish students need to feel pressed to do some schoolwork at home. If not, they will do nothing. Just like everywhere in the world, I suppose. I strongly believe relying only on school classes to teach kids sth isn`t a good idea, they still need to revise the material at home and a test or exam are a perfect opportunity. I can see it on my students - if I didn`t set a test after each chapter (10 per year on average) they would laze around throughout the whole year. It also applies to brilliant ones. What about final exams then? Besides, the imminent test has a beneficial influence on students in class. When I tell them to pay attention because they need to have exercises correctly done for good revision, they stop all pranks and get down to work.

I'm big on open book tests...

I had to think a little to guess what you mean. :):) So unPolish, I must say. :):)

As for the poster above, his jealousy and bitterness suggests that he never achieved much with his life.

So true but remember, let`s not be discriminatory, it can also be a female. :)
Bagel
23 Mar 2019  #46
you can always blame the fate you know :)
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
23 Mar 2019  #47
We say here: Life is dangerous and full of zasadzkas.
mafketis 17 | 6,897
23 Mar 2019  #48
So unPolish, I must say. :):)

Yes Poland has an unhealthy (and very counter-productive) obsession with exams - that all but insure that most students don't learn as much as they could...
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
23 Mar 2019  #49
But exams are also in other countries. E.g., British GCSE, A levels. What`s wrong with them? :):)

Of course exams don`t ensure that most students study hard for them. But at least those gifted and ambitious ones do, for various reasons - because they care about their marks/grades or care about their parents` reaction- doesn`t really matter. Whatever they learn to the exam, it is beneficial for them.

Sorry, maf, nobody will ever convince me exams are counter-productive. They aren`t and I have learnt it after 30 years of teaching in various schools. Besides, if I hadn`t been forced at my own schools or uni to study hard, I wouldn`t have been able to become a teacher.

I sometimes meet my former students and they thank me for giving them "hard time" at school.

Sayings like "I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest." do not really pertain to school and education. I would prefer to propagate this one: "What doesn`t kill you, it makes you stronger."
mafketis 17 | 6,897
24 Mar 2019  #50
Sorry, maf, nobody will ever convince me exams are counter-productive

But Poland has a learning culture based on cramming (trying to learn the material at the last minute) which just doesn't work for languages.

I'm more in favor of individual assignments that the student has to go over one-on-one together with a teacher. That's where real learning takes place, not in a big classroom where it's easy to disappear in a crowd or in an exam where half the students are stressed from cramming...
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
24 Mar 2019  #51
But Poland has a learning culture based on cramming.

) Yes, cramming is a Polish tradition but your opinion it doesn`t work for languages is wrong. I can show you pictures of my 4 English high school textbooks with vocabulary banks at the end of each one and words highlight by me for better memorising purpose. I had to cram them in order to be able to pass the English philology entrance exam which was extremely difficult. Later, we had practical English exams throughout the school year in which we had to explain words with their synonyms. That was a challenge. High school learning proved useless. So, I learnt vocabulary from library books - first I used to keep a few copybooks where I put the words down, later I wrote the translations in the stuff I owned.

I remember it as if it was yesterday and I apply the same methods onto my students today and see good results of it. 35% of points at each test I set comes from bare vocabulary translation. Those motivated and ambitious students DO learn it to have a higher mark. Later they remember it better and better because each chapter repeats some words over and over again.

Nobody will ever convince me it is not beneficial for students. Sorry for being so stubborn but those things are so obvious to me.:)

I'm more in favor of individual assignments that the student has to go over one-on-one together with a teacher.

Sorry, let`s stick to reality, leaving daydreaming aside. :):) Currently, Polish schools can`t provide each student with individual classes. Do any schools in the world act like that with all their students?

where half the students are stressed from cramming...

Remember: what doesn`t kill you, strengthens you. :)
Lyzko 20 | 6,340
24 Mar 2019  #52
English exams, English exams! If the teacher's nonetheless a Pole, probably some state-salaried "refrigerator monster" from the good ol' Commie days, who
speaks Poglish, perhaps took some English courses in the UK, yet isn't a native speaker, all the exams in the world aren't going to break the cycle of government-perpetuated and sponsored mediocrity!!

Think anybody will ever spring for some native US or UK teachers for kids UNDER twelve so at least they'll hear authentic English BEFORE they enter university?

Long overdue, of course, because it's expensive and/or the state's simply too damn cheap.
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
24 Mar 2019  #53
who speaks Poglish, perhaps took some English courses in the UK,

It can be even worse, ex Biology teachers can also do postgraduate studies and teach English.

aren't going to break the cycle of government-perpetuated and sponsored mediocrity!!

Show me a country where all students are provided native speakers as teachers of foreign languages. Additionally, where all students are sent on long and frequent exchanges to native countries to avoid state mediocrity.

Ly┼╝ko, I already said it above: stick to reality and cut down on daydreaming.
Lyzko 20 | 6,340
24 Mar 2019  #54
Reality?

Why then does "Europlish" continue to sound/look as it does?? Think that I think it's just a Polish problem?
Was once in what passed for an English class in Berlin quite a few years back, the so-called guest of an erstwhile girl friend
who was currently teaching at a high school in the Borsigwald district.

My friend walked into the class and proceeded, with a decided German accent, to elucidate some of the finer points of English pronunciation, later on

(unintentionally, no doubt) torturing my ears even more with some 'expert' knowledge of American idiomsLOL

Thought I would die laughing inside, yet naturally maintained the proverbial composure under pressure.
When class was over, Noelia rushed over eagerly to where I'd been sitting throughout the lesson, and asked me what I thought of her instruction.

As still a friend, I smiled broadly and said, "Just fine. Thought for a moment I was in San Fransisco!"

How could I possibly have hurt that poor girl's feelings?:-)

By the time "students" are finally released from their clutches and sent on those long and frequent exchanges, much of the damage has already been done and although sixteen through eighteen, for instance, is darned young in years, it's starting to get old in terms of fluid second-language acquisition.
mafketis 17 | 6,897
24 Mar 2019  #55
Why then does "Europlish" continue to sound/look as it does?? T

For the most part in Europe English is not taught as a foreign language representing particular countries or cultures. It's taught in a deracinated way that emphasizes use with other non-natives. The great majority of those in English class have no real desire to live (or in some cases even visit) an English speaking country and aren't especially interested in the history or culture of English speaking peoples (beyond mass market fare they consume in their own languages).

Those that are really interested in anglophone culture and history major in English philology (though most students there also treat it as a lingua franca with 'just barely good enough' standards rather than a foreign language).

In a sense it's the new Russian - a language class to get through but not something most are interested in beyond the most immediate practical purposes which do not involve trying to mimic native pronunciation (British materials seem to have completely abandoned the idea of native pronunciation as any kind of ideal to obtain).
Lyzko 20 | 6,340
24 Mar 2019  #56
Well stated, Maf.
Thanks, as always for your input! Sadly, I couldn't agree with you more.
All the pity.
mafketis 17 | 6,897
24 Mar 2019  #57
If English weren't required in all schools and if only those interested in English speaking countries/cultures were taking classes then I'd agree, but Euro-English is becoming its own thing and will probably eventually evolve into something English speakers won't be able to use or understand without special instruction...
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
24 Mar 2019  #58
Of course not. Our textbooks and resources are either imported directly from Great Britain (most) or written by local authors, both native and Polish. Also, one can use online aids which are also British oriented. The fact that a part of English teachers in Europe/Poland possess low competence doesn`t mean we should condemn all.

How could I possibly have hurt that poor girl's feelings?:-)

Yes, that happens in Poland and everywhere in Europe.

But the choice is simple - either you allow such people to teach and students learn faulty English or you ban such lousy teachers and then students learn nothing at all because no one will teach them, e..g, in an armpit village in the outback. Which one is better, what you think?

If English weren't required in all schools and if only those interested in English speaking countries/cultures were taking classes then I'd agree,

But it is required, fortunately. :)
Jaskier
24 Mar 2019  #59
Oh for Pete's sake...
Yes, it would be lovely if we all could learn foreing languages since we are 1 day old from native speakers in a natural way thus making as bilingual (tri- etc) with the accent of a British lord however the reality is what it is and it's the same for any foreign language.

Stop thinking English is some special case. Unless you have a strong community of native speakers of the target language you are forced to do your best . Unless, of course, you stop teaching foreign languages...

Plus, of course, accent is only one part of language. If someone has tick e.g. Polish accent but great understanding, knows a lot of idioms, express himself without difficulty etc what gos language skills are? Good or bad?
OP pawian 153 | 8,419
24 Mar 2019  #60
Unless you have a strong community of native speakers of the target language you are forced to do your best.

Exactly. :) Idealism is a great thing but life is brutal (and full of zasadzkas). :)


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