September 15, 2014

Training Report: Methodological Training Course in Poland

Teaching Polish as a Foreign Language

In February 2014, I went to Kraków, Poland to attend a five day training course in teaching Polish as a Foreign Language. The training was organised by a local language school, GLOSSA and participants could apply for an EU grant, Grundving available for lifelong learning programmes.


At the training, we mainly focused on teaching adults, as all participants were involved in adult education. We had 4 sessions per day and they were packed with interesting and thought provoking seminars and tutorials. I must admit that I enjoyed the course very much and I found its content fascinating and extremely relevant. 

Kraków Training -- Participants
Monolingual teaching from the very first lesson


I think we are still looking for an ideal teaching method that will allow us to teach both effectively and interestingly. The method presented in GLOSSA mainly focuses on teaching monolingually, that is, in the target language from the very first lesson. We should not use any unnecessary words, but very clearly communicate the essential message, often with the use of visual aids, pictures, photos and short recordings. Lessons should be highly interactive, between tutor and students and among students. Instead of everything being translated and explained by a tutor, they interact with the new material and discover the rules and meanings themselves. It is a very effective approach, as students start using the language quickly, as they communicate in the target language throughout the whole lesson. 

Speaking and Listening

Students relatively quickly express themselves in the target language, as no other languages are used by their tutor. The foreign language communication becomes natural and spontaneous. They listen to various recordings to get used to other accents and different pronunciation. By using only the target language the tutor makes their students become very active listeners and that skill will be very useful throughout the whole process of learning a foreign language. 


When reading, unknown vocabulary should be taught, not by directly translating into the learners native language, but initially iconographically and then later by paraphrasing and using the target language and various examples, e.g. already known vocabulary. After reading to themselves, students are asked to read the text aloud to practice pronunciation and then work with the text, for example, finding useful phrases or completing comprehension exercises.


The writing part is also very important, because students can assess their knowledge. It is usually in the form of a dialogue or a short essay or a form to be completed, using the vocabulary and the grammar they already know. Depending on its length and complexity, the writing task is usually given as a homework exercise, as it takes time to complete.


Although this method focuses on communication, grammar is not omitted. Students learn grammar to be able to use the language correctly and to understand better its rules and patterns. However, they should not only learn to decline and conjugate, but actually practise using the grammar in more natural contexts, by watching videos or readings short texts. Grammar is not the main aim in itself, but it is an integral part of a lesson. 

My Teaching Plan

Although I was already running my elementary and intermediate courses entirely in Polish, since attending the seminar in Poland I have decided to try to use more Polish with my complete beginner’s group. The majority of my beginner students enjoy the lesson being in Polish, although, some of them seem to get confused and do not follow instructions and want everything to be translated into English. However, they are getting slowly used to the new language and they are trying to interact with me in Polish. What is even more important, they want the lessons to be taught in Polish and I am very thankful for their enthusiasm, because knowing your lessons are being positively received is extremely rewarding for every passionate and creative tutor. 
Written by Kinga Macalla

 Photos courtesy of Kinga Macalla  

Kraków Training -- Wawel
September 1, 2014

Third Year Abroad: Internship in Belgrade, Serbia


There are many myths and legends about the Balkans. The best way to decide which of them are true is, of course, to visit the region yourself. Since I am studying the Serbian language, I have been to Serbia several times. Most recently I stayed in Belgrade for half a year and I had there one of the best times of my life.

During the first few days I felt overwhelmed by the big city. On the other hand, however, I had a lot of interesting things to do. One of them was completing my thesis on Borislav Pekić’s short story cycle titled Novi Jerusalem -Gothic Chronicle. I visited the Belgrade University and spoke to literature professors, who had helped me to choose the right resources. I almost met the wife of the writer but unfortunately she fell sick. I wish Novi Jerusalem was translated into other languages. So far I can strongly recommend translations of his other books and one of the stories from Novi Jerusalem, which you can find on Borislav Pekić’s blog:

One month after my arrival, I started an internship in the Polish Embassy in Belgrade. I began my days with reading enormous piles of newspapers as I was writing reports about the current political situation in Serbia. More often, however, I was supporting the cultural department and writing articles about the Polish culture for the embassy’s website. During this time the Embassy organised a promotion of one of Olga Tokarczuk’s books. It was an exciting event for me, as I used to attend her classes which I really enjoyed. She is also one of the best known Polish writers.

Belgrade 3 Julia Euterpe 3 with logo

 My stay in Belgrade wouldn’t be as enjoyable, if I haven’t had met so many wonderful people. They made me like the city more. I joined a German-Serbian Club and some of the meetings took place outdoors, for example in a nice park called Tašmajdan. This is how I discovered some parks of the city and another green place in Belgrade: an island on the river called Ada Ciganlija, where I liked to swim and spend sunny afternoons. After a day spent on the island I liked to go out in the neighbourhood Savamalawhere my favourite cultural centre was situated: KC GRAD,which hosts lots of different events and parties. Sometimes we went out to Jazz Club Čekaonica, located on the top of a huge building, BIGZ, one of the biggest publishing houses in former Yugoslavia. I also liked to visit Bitef Teatar which is located in a reconstructed evangelic German church and it’s a great place for all modern theatre lovers. In may, when my stay was coming to an end and some of my friends visited me, we spent whole evenings on one bench, in the garden of the charming Ružica church, on famous fortress Kalemegdan. We also loved hidden bars, which were really difficult to find, but it was worth the effort. If you happen to find yourself in Belgrade, try to find The Federal Association of Globe Trotters. And if you suffer from Yugo-nostalgia,Muzej Istorije Jugoslavije is the place to be.

Belgrade, Anna Kensoń 1 with logo
During the three months of my internship I went on numerous trips. Countless rides to nearby villages and towns like lovely Inđija will always stay in my memory. The most exciting  trip though was an excursion to Istanbul, where I flew for five days in the beginning of May. Although I went there alone, I didn’t feel lonely. My hosts from Couchsurfing were excellent guides, cooks and entertainers. Several days spent in the sunny, wonderful and magical city were the best holidays I could imagine. My stay in Belgrade was definitely a great experience. It is slowly time to plan another trip to the region. 
Written by Joanna Michta 
Edited by Alicja Zajdel 
Photos courtesy of Julia Euterpe and Anna Kensoń