The Linguist

The Linguist 57,1 – February/March 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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24 The Linguist Vol/57 No/1 2018 FEATURES Joanna Biernat discovers an app that is providing children around the world with a 'full' Polish education P roviding a great education for children and teenagers is no easy task, and it becomes even more difficult when the children do not live in the country of their parents' origin. While previous generations of migrants often denied children access to their heritage language, believing this would give them the best start in life, today there is a greater understanding of the importance of mastering the heritage language. Increasingly, parents are anxious that their children not only learn their mother tongue, but also achieve a level of education in the language that will allow them to continue learning should the family return to their home country. For Polish parents, this often means making contact with educational institutions in Poland, and with the Polish Embassy in their resident country, to seek advice on how to find Polish schools and tuition. The Polish Education Foundation – the body responsible for promoting Polish education abroad ( – is also a good source of information, running online campaigns to promote Polish language learning abroad. Interestingly, the desire for children to speak Polish does not appear to come from parents alone. I spoke to Polish parents and their children in the UK, and analysed comments on online forums for Poles living abroad, and found many young people expressing frustration at their lack of fluency in Polish. Because English is their primary language of communication, they frequently use English words when speaking Polish, add English suffixes to Polish words and make orthographical mistakes. Saturday and Sunday schools are usually run by churches for free or a small donation, and occasionally by local community groups. However, provision and quality can be patchy. Even where supplementary schools are available, it can be difficult for parents to commit to attending every week, and provision is not always sufficient. In an attempt to improve the situation, parents, teachers and educational institutions came together in 2002 to found Libratus, an online Polish school promoted and run by the Polish Education Foundation, which offered education to Polish children and teenagers living all over the world. Although this ambitious, innovative programme was recently replaced by Polonijka (, the learning tools and materials, curriculum and teachers remain the same, enabling students to gain a similar level of education as they would receive at schools in Poland. How does it work? Polonijka offers education to young people aged 5-15 as far afield as Australia, Korea and Canada, although the majority are based in the UK – home to the largest Polish community outside Poland and the US. Following a simple registration process, children receive a student ID card and supporting materials, including books approved by the Polish Ministry of National Education, lesson scripts, ideas and suggestions for parents. The school starts on 1 September and runs according to the Polish school timetable (ten months divided into two semesters). It follows a compacted version of the full-time Polish curriculum, adapted to make it manageable for young people who are already in full-time education in the country where they live. The school functions as an interactive platform, using new technologies, such as computer-based exercises and assessments, web conferences, virtual classrooms and Skype, to provide modern and interesting ways of learning. The educational programme and progress criteria are communicated to learners and parents at the beginning of each Top of the klasa "It requires a great amount of self-discipline and commitment." A small number drop out ENGAGING WORK Children use the learning materials and prepare for examinations at a test centre in London

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