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Sociolinguistic aspects of the functioning of English in post-1989 Poland

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Krzysztof Przygonski

The fall of communism fully opened Poland to the processes and phenomena operating in ever globalizing world. In line with global trends, English in post-socialist Poland has been steadily growing in importance. By employing a holistic integrative approach utilizing relevant theoretical, descriptive, and empirical insights, the author builds up a comprehensive picture of the sociolinguistic functioning of English in post-1989 Poland. In order to supplement his integration and analysis of the state-of-the-art knowledge, the author devises an original investigation probing into the perceived power of English. The result is the first such comprehensive and insightful analysis of English in a post-socialist country.

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Chapter 3: Language planning and ELT in Poland

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3.1. Language planning and policy in post-1989 Poland The educational strategy of Poland in the post-transformational period must be analyzed within the larger framework of the new political, economic, social and cultural challenges facing the Polish government and society. In addition to the top- down strategy of catching up with the West, the market forces and bottom-up pressures began to exert an ever greater influence on the general educational policy. Even before the political transformation, many Poles realized that language skills were to soon become essential for Poland in its international economic and cultural contacts with the world. The first years in fully-independent Poland showed a great need for all kinds of specialists and experts in foreign (western) languages that could help establish and maintain contacts with foreign partners. Unsurprisingly, language skills (especially the English language) soon reached the top of the political agenda and the educational as well as economic strategy of Poland. The dominant position of English in the post-transformational educational policy led it to acquire the highest status of all the foreign languages taught in Polish schools. Before long it became clear to a host of Poles that formal measures should be taken to control the ever increasing power of English. This started to constitute the second strand of the language policy of Poland with respect to English, i.e. restraining its power and curbing its negative influence upon the Polish language and culture. Accordingly, any discussion on the management of English in Poland should take into consideration...

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