Language Education

Controversies, Observations and Proposals

by Danuta Stanulewicz (Volume editor) Karolina Janczukowicz (Volume editor) Małgorzata Rocławska-Daniluk (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 282 Pages
Series: Gdańsk Studies in Language, Volume 10


This collection of papers explores various issues in English language teaching in Poland, mainly at the secondary and tertiary levels. The topics include Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), English for Specific Purposes (ESP), and e-learning. The contributions also deal with teaching public speaking, pronunciation and writing. The contributors explore language education from the perspective of cognitive linguistics and propose solutions concerning English for Specific Purposes (Technical Writing in English and Maritime English) as well. The book also investigates teaching not only languages but also, inter alia, geography and linguistics, concentrating on the use of metaphors, prototypes and cognitive models.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Controversies, observations and proposals in language education: An introduction (Danuta Stanulewicz)
  • Controversies and questions
  • Some critical remarks on the current state of English language education at Polish senior secondary schools (Olga Aleksandrowska)
  • Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): An administrative directive or educational opportunity? (Hanna Kryszewska)
  • Which English for the Polish EFL classroom? The presence of varieties other than British English in Poland’s secondary and tertiary education (Maciej Rataj)
  • Tutorial as a quality teaching methodology at the Faculty of Languages at a Polish university (Beata Karpińska-Musiał)
  • Non-native bilingual family configurations (Sonia Szramek-Karcz)
  • Observations and proposals
  • Public speaking as a tool in developing oral skills (Karolina Janczukowicz)
  • Towards a native speaker like pronunciation: Challenging aspects of English pronunciation for Polish learners and ways of dealing with them: The English vowels (Zbigniew Czaja)
  • Why do Poles fail to produce Polish sounds in foreign words? (Mikołaj Rychło)
  • Implementing a process-writing approach in a Polish academic setting: An examination of processes and learning outcomes (Krzysztof Karaś)
  • Effective use of e-learning in language education (Iwona Mokwa-Tarnowska)
  • Teaching Maritime English: Selected aspects (Michał Golubiewski)
  • An inquiry into happening in school education: Some of the questions it poses to teaching English as a foreign language in schools (Martin Blaszk)
  • A directed utterance as a personal educational event and a tool for seamlessness between (L1 and L2) reception and production (Michał Daszkiewicz)
  • The cognitive linguistics perspective
  • Explanatory metaphors and the matryoshka phenomenon (Olga Sokołowska)
  • Some remarks on experiencing and sharing meaning in L2 (Tadeusz Danilewicz)
  • Prototypes and their educational role in animated films for children: A case study of CARS (Joanna Redzimska)
  • Cognitive models and language education: Towards a cognitively-oriented coursebook (Danuta Stanulewicz)
  • Author index
  • Subject index
  • Series index

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Controversies, observations and proposals in language education: An introduction

Language education is an area of research much broader than foreign/second language teaching/learning. Alongside traditional glottodidactic issues, it takes into consideration foreign/second language teacher training, first language education, the role(s) of language in teaching other school subjects, teaching second languages at home and language policy concerning both native and foreign languages. One of the aims of this volume is to bridge the gap between theory and practice by presenting solutions researchers can offer to practitioners specializing in language teaching at all the levels of education.

Language education has been a flourishing discipline for a long time. The main reason is as simple as the need to learn languages which enable people to function in the contemporary world. The command of two and more languages not only strengthens one’s position on the job market, but also allows for participating in culture: reading books, watching films etc. in other languages, let alone travelling and making friends. The multitude of constantly evolving approaches to teaching and learning foreign/second languages and emerging new technologies as well as the publication of innumerable coursebooks and other teaching materials, all confronted with changing educational systems at all levels of education, provide fertile grounds for reflection, research and discussion. However, solving the evergreen problems language learners face is frequently still far from being satisfactory; in numerous cases, it is the individual teacher whose education, classroom decisions, creativity, personality and treatment of students count most.

The volume is divided into three parts. The first one contains chapters discussing controversial issues in language education, the second presents observations and proposals, while the third one considers various issues in language education from the perspective of cognitive linguistics. The majority of chapters deal with problems set in the Polish educational context.

The first part consists of five chapters. Researchers have always been interested in the state of language education at school – in our volume, it is Olga Aleksandrowska who makes an accurate diagnosis of English language education at senior secondary schools in Poland. Two other chapters also deal with teaching English. Hanna Kryszewska offers her detailed answer to the question whether Content and Language Integrated Learning is an administrative directive or educational opportunity. Maciej Rataj, in turn, considers the sociolinguistic issue of the varieties of English used at Polish schools and universities. In the fourth chapter, ← 7 | 8 → Beata Karpińska-Musiał discusses problems of language teacher training at Polish universities. Finally, Sonia Szramek-Karcz analyzes the controversial issue of non-native bilingualism, providing her classification of non-native bilingual families.

The second part of the volume contains proposals and observations concerning teaching English (and, occasionally, other languages) to teenagers and adults. Karolina Janczukowicz suggests treating public speaking as a tool in developing oral skills, Zbigniew Czaja analyzes typical Polish ways of pronouncing English vowels and offers techniques to deal with pronunciation problems, while Mikołaj Rychło provides an answer to the question why Polish learners fail to produce Polish sounds in foreign words. Further, Krzysztof Karaś presents the process approach to the development of the writing skill in students of an English department, Iwona Mokwa-Tarnowska writes about employing e-learning in teaching English to students at a technical university, whereas Michał Golubiewski discusses selected issues of teaching Maritime English. The chapter by Martin Blaszk deals with exploiting happening in school education, and in the last chapter of this part, Michał Daszkiewicz argues for using directed utterances as a successful technique in teaching a foreign language.

The third part of the volume includes chapters which explore education from the viewpoint of cognitive linguistics. Olga Sokołowska concentrates on explanatory metaphors used in such disciplines as physics, chemistry, biology and geography, and in teaching them at school. Tadeusz Danilewicz reflects on experiencing meaning in a second/foreign language from the cognitive perspective, and Joanna Redzimska analyzes the educational role of prototypes used in an animated film for children. The last chapter, authored by Danuta Stanulewicz, concerns the presence (and absence) of cognitive models in coursebooks designed for teaching English.

The editors would like to thank the Reviewer for the valuable comments which helped them to give the final shape to the volume.

The editors cherish the hope that not only researchers who express lively interest in language education, but also practitioners – teachers of languages and other school or academic subjects – will find this volume useful and inspiring.

Danuta Stanulewicz
Gdańsk, 16 August 2016

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Controversies and questions

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Some critical remarks on the current state of English language education at Polish senior secondary schools

Olga Aleksandrowska

University of Gdańsk

Abstract: The aim of this chapter is to give an overview of English language teaching and learning at the senior secondary school level in Poland. Some of the issues explored in the first part include: foreign language learning and teaching programmes implemented at schools, learners’ proficiency levels, characteristics of adolescent learners and elements of the Polish Curriculum Framework. In the second part of the chapter, some common features of classroom instruction at the secondary school level are presented, such as methods of class work, types of lesson activities, testing techniques and coursebooks used at Polish schools. The school final examination (called Matura in Polish) requirements are also discussed as impacting the nature of English language teaching and learning. The chapter ends with a discussion of the role of English language education at the senior secondary school level.

Keywords: foreign language education, Matura, school leaving examination, senior secondary school, National Curriculum Framework, teaching English, washback

1. Introduction

The main aim of the educational reform initiated in 1999 was to improve the overall quality of Polish education. Several important modifications were made concerning the structure of education in Poland, the evaluation system, the Teachers’ Charter (Karta Nauczyciela) and foreign language learning. As a result, a new system of education was formed, comprising 4 major levels: kindergarten (preschool education), 6-year primary school (grades 1–3 at educational stage I and grades 4–6 at educational stage II), 3-year junior secondary school (educational stage III), and 3-year senior secondary school1 (educational stage IV), which makes 12 years of ← 11 | 12 → compulsory schooling in total.2 Other main changes included the creation of The National Curriculum Framework3 (Podstawa Programowa, from now the NCF in short), and the introduction of a system of examinations at the end of primary and junior secondary schools.

With regard to foreign language education, two major modifications deserve particular attention: the fact that foreign language learning became an obligatory subject and that a new model of the Matura examination in modern foreign languages was established. The changes in the educational system and the two above-mentioned innovations have brought about important educational consequences with reference to the teaching of foreign languages at Polish schools.

The following sections aim to discuss the current condition of English language teaching at educational stage IV. The description of its main characteristics also allows us to notice what impact the Matura examination exerts on the didactic process.

2. Teaching English to Polish learners at senior secondary school

2.1. Types of the teaching/learning foreign language programmes and students’ proficiency levels

In Poland, learners are obliged to start their foreign language education from grade 1 of primary school. This means that, on average, when a student enters senior secondary school, he/she should already have been learning one foreign language for minimum 9 years. The authors of the National Curriculum Framework took the length of the learning experience into consideration when planning the didactic process at each educational stage. As a result, according to the NCF ← 12 | 13 → guidelines, classes of modern foreign languages at senior secondary school are conducted at the following levels:

A minimum of 450 hours (in the basic programme) and additional 180 hours (in the extended programme) are to be divided between two modern foreign languages taught in the 3-year period of learning. In practice, this means that there might be, on average, 3–6 lessons of English a week, depending on the programme which a given student follows. After the three years of learning at educational stage IV, the learner is expected to reach at least the pre-intermediate/intermediate competence level (A2+, B1 according to the CEFR4) in a foreign language. It is hoped that many senior secondary school learners’ knowledge and skills in L2 are much more advanced, reaching the B2/B2+ or even C1 level, which enables them to successfully pass the extended level of the Matura examination in English.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (September)
Glottodidactics Teaching English Academic Teaching Senior Secondary School Cognitive Linguistics
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 282 pp., 1 b/w ill., 12 b/w tables

Biographical notes

Danuta Stanulewicz (Volume editor) Karolina Janczukowicz (Volume editor) Małgorzata Rocławska-Daniluk (Volume editor)

Danuta Stanulewicz holds a Ph.D. and D. Litt. in general linguistics. She is employed at the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Gdańsk, Poland. Her interests include semantics, pragmatics and sociolinguistics as well as language acquisition. Karolina Janczukowicz is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English and American Studies at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. Her academic interests include psycholinguistics, public speaking and teaching English pronunciation. Małgorzata Rocławska-Daniluk is Professor at the Department of Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. She is also a speech therapist and teacher trainer. Her research interests are language development, language awareness in multilingual contexts and speech pathology.


Title: Language Education