As Teaching and Learning slowly emerges from the past two pandemic-struck years that saw unprecedented formal education closures, the emergence of (emergency) remote instruction and the almost universal adaptation of digital learning tools across the board. There had been much written (Here and beyond) about Why Learning in a Post-Pandemic World Will Never Be the Same and unless you’ve been living under a rock of late, it’s hard to argue against this. Recent experience and indeed common sense would strongly suggest that going forward we need to develop blended or hybrid curricula that incorporate the best of face-to-face and online, across all levels of the education sector. A prime example of the potential and effectiveness of such a model is when its used in the teaching of minority languages and the announcement this week from Cavan Monaghan Education Training Board of its Blended Leaving Certificate Polish programme, demonstrates real progress is being made in this space.
The provision of Polish (And other minority languages) as a Leaving Certificate subject poses a challenge for post-primary schools, due to lack of critical mass of students in one single school and the availability of suitably qualified specialist teachers. This is where blended learning can assist and provides great opportunities to address the challenge of introducing minority languages in schools.
On Monday last it was announced that 17 Leaving Certificate students in 4 CMETB schools are the first students in Ireland to prepare for the new Polish Leaving Certificate through a Blended model of teaching and learning. The course is delivered through online, face to face and self-directed learning in participating CMETB schools during school time. The course covers all aspects of the new Leaving Certificate Polish specification, and it is taught by fully qualified Polish teachers, experienced in blended teaching and learning employed by Post-Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI). PPLI have been supporting foreign languages education in our schools for over twenty years and are responsible for implementing key actions in Languages Connect – Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026. PPLI are also currently involved in a number of other pilot projects for online and blended models of language teaching and learning. These pilots will inform the future development of additional courses and modules.
The new Polish LC course was introduced following a 6-week taster module for Transition Year (TY) students, which was implemented from March to April 2021. Students participating in this course will sit the Leaving Certificate Examination in 2023. The teacher is employed by PPLI and receives the support of e-Mentors designated by each participating school. The hope is that this mode of provision will become available to students in more schools and that this would enable significant numbers of migrant Polish speakers to maintain literacy in their home language.