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In addition, please refer to the article on Teaching English to Young Learners in Poland.


Public sector primary schools

Is EYL taught as an official part of the curriculum in public sector primary schools? Yes (as an alternative to French, German or Russian)
When was it introduced?  1994 (along with the other YL languages above)
At what age do students begin EYL? 10 approximately (Grade 4)
Have any significant changes in teaching EYL taken place since 1980? In 1994 YL languages were introduced in Grade 5.
In 1999 the official starting grade was lowered to Grade 4.
Is there any widespread teaching of English before the official starting age for compulsory EYL? Yes. Many schools, especially in cities offer classes in English, sometimes as regular classes, sometimes as an after-school activity (students usually, although not always, pay a nominal amount.) Sometimes college students are given EYL classes for their teaching practice.

Poland is undergoing educational reform and from 2000 school directors have been given control over their budgets. Some have chosen to start EYL with children in Grades 1–3.

How many hours a week/school year are officially allocated for EYL? Grades 4, 5 and 6 are viewed as a unit, and 240 teaching hours spread over these 3 school years are allocated for EYL. Distribution of hours is discretionary, but there are 3 main options, involving 3 teaching hours/week for 2 of the grades and 2 teaching hours/week for the other grade.
(A teaching hour = 45 minutes)
How many EYL teachers and students are there in the public education system? Not stated
Who does the EYL teaching? Note: There is great variation according to whether schools are in a rural or an urban setting.

• A specialist teacher of English who works in only one school (the largest group)
• A specialist teacher of English who visits different schools to give lessons (10% approximately)
• A person not a qualified teacher who knows English and who works in only one school. (They may have only rudimentary English themselves.)
• Other: a graduate in another subject – not trained as a teacher – who is working as an 'unqualified' teacher of English. This is not an uncommon situation in rural areas.

Who is eligible to teach EYL in the public education system? • A primary teacher who has successfully completed a special in-service training course in English language and/or EYL methodology.
•A teacher who has had pre-service training at college or university and is qualified to become a teacher of English at primary level.
•A teacher qualified to teach English at secondary school, but who is willing to work in primary schools.
• A native speaker of English, who has no recognised qualifications as a teacher.
• Other

Poland has 2 sorts of primary teacher, which complicates the situation with regard to EYL. Some teachers are qualified to teach only in Grades 1–3 and they do not usually teach EYL to their classes. Teachers for Grades 4 and above are university language graduates, teacher training college graduates or teachers who have graduated in another subject (Engineering etc.) and who have requalified as language teachers. These teachers are also able to teach in secondary schools.

Requalification courses run for practising teachers (primary or secondary) who have graduated in another field. Entry requirements have been UCLES First Certificate in English (grade A or B) but now UCLES CAE (Certificate in Advanced English). The required course comprises methodology, including: classroom observation and teaching practice, British and American Studies, Pedagogical Grammar, Psychopedagogy. This course has a Ministry-approved syllabus and each course run has to gain Ministry approval first.

Nationwide are schools able to recruit enough EYL teachers? No. The plan is to upgrade existing teachers' YL teaching knowledge and skills and also to add a YL course to teacher training colleges. The Polish Ministry of Education signed a trilateral Letter of Intent with the British Council and the Goethe Institut in April 1999 stating the intention to promote the teaching of languages to YL by supporting the training of YL teachers at INSETT and PRESETT levels. This is to be achieved through regular information-sharing meetings, financial support, day release for teachers, recognition of inservice curricula and recognition of the position of teacher trainers within the framework of accreditation under preparation at that time.

To date (April 2000) there has been a teacher training course in TEFL to YL of 240 hours. The participants were trainers from TT colleges, practising primary teachers who either co-operated with TT colleges as mentors or who co-operated with INSETT leaders. These participants have now graduated with an officially-recognised certificate as teacher trainers (edukators) specialising in YL. These edukators are now feeding back into the system through PRESETT and INSETT.

What official guidelines exist for EYL teaching? There is a general description of aims for EYL which includes a list of specific skills and one ability (use of bilingual dictionary)
Do EYL teaching materials have to be approved? Teachers may choose any published materials (local or international) provided that they are within budget and that the materials have had official clearance or approval
What materials are typically used? • International published coursebooks (the most common)
• Original teaching materials devised by teachers themselves (but not very commonly)
• Lesson materials adapted by teachers from several published sources
• Locally published coursebooks
What other foreign languages are taught at primary level? German (in second place to English) particularly in western Poland in areas which have German communities/close German ties. Russian is taught particularly in rural areas, where there is a shortage of other language teachers, and along parts of the Eastern border. French is not often chosen in primary schools.
Are any changes in the provision of EYL planned or anticipated? There is a Ministry-stated intention to lower the starting age to Grade 1 in the near future, but the precise date has not been given. At present, early years teachers would not be able to deliver such a course. Practising classroom teachers in Grades 1-3 will have to take an officially recognised requalification course and attain FCE level of English. As a preparation for this, a syllabus for the requalification course is in the process of being written (April 2000). The working team, all Polish, consist of representatives of INSETT, a British Council-trained edukator and a Goethe Institut-trained edukator. As teacher training colleges for Grades 1–3 do not at present prepare trainees to teach foreign languages, another college syllabus is being written to address this issue.


Private sector primary schools

Is there a significant number of these schools? No


Private language schools

Is there a significant number of these schools? Yes
How many Young Learners take private language classes? 35-50% in cities; much fewer in smaller towns
How many hours of English do they typically offer? 2 per week
Is there any perceived conflict between public school and private language school provision in EYL? Children attending private language schools have more advanced lessons than in mainstream education and classes are smaller. The methodology used is often, though not always, more modern and classes more interactive. Additionally, the focus is much less on grammar exercises. There is more access to videos and CD materials.
What materials do they use for EYL? International coursebooks, cassettes, videos, etc.


Private tuition for Young Learners

Is there private tuition for primary age children? Yes
How many Young Learners are involved? Not stated
What is the typical starting age for private tuition? Usually before mainstream education
Why do parents use private tutors? It can be cheaper than fees for lessons in a private language school. Parents think also that their children will progress faster than in a state school or in private classes because the teacher will focus more on their child.

Date information collected: 2000


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