Poland - Teaching Geography in English

Geography and English Integrated Learning
a report from the international conference
Aleksandra Zaparucha
School Complex number 10, Toruń, Poland

Teaching in and about Europe

 Teaching in and about Europe was the main theme of the international conference held in Toruń, Poland, on 5 – 8 October 2006. It was a meeting designed for Geography teachers in Poland who teach their subject through the means of English. The conference was held at the National Centre for Further Training of Geography Teachers in Toruń, and co-sponsored and organised by the Herodot and Eurogeo organisations and the Didactic Laboratory of the Geography Faculty of the Nicolas Copernicus University in Toruń.

The conference aimed at bringing together the teachers in Poland who teach Geography in English as well as academics involved in Geography Teacher Training and the representatives of teacher development institutions. Another objective of the meeting was to create a place for exchanging practical ideas and techniques on how to teach Geography through English effectively and the variety of experiences in that field. The discussion on the didactical resources available was also expected. The organizers hoped for establishing a network of the teachers involved in such a manner of Geography teaching.

The main part of the event included the conference itself with the participants’ presentations, and three Geography lessons taught in English in the School Complex number 10 in Toruń. A great opportunity to entertain the guests was a field trip to Golub-Dobrzyń Castle and a guided tour around the city centre.

The conference opening took place on 5th October 2006 at 6pm at the National Centre for Further Training of Geography Teachers in Toruń. The welcome speeches were delivered by Antoni Stark, the President of the Association of Polish Adult Educators, Toruń Branch and Karl Donert from the Liverpool Hope University, the President of the EUROGEO and the HERODOT network Coordinator, followed by a representative of the Toruń authorities.

Karl Donert was the first to give a presentation on the newest project of the Herodot, i.e. geoinformation (the full title: Geoinformation and education: a revolution waiting to happen in Europe). The day finished with a welcome dinner.

            Friday 6th October was the school day. The conference participants were welcomed by the school headmaster Andrzej Drozdowski. The school introduced bilingual teaching of subjects three years ago, starting with Geography and History. Presently, Mathematics and Biology are also taught with the elements of English. 

Next, three Geography lessons were taught to Polish students. First, Ms Małgorzata Kubik from Gdynia Bilingual High School No 3, IB School No 0704), conducted a lesson on Population distribution to the last year of the Gimnazjum level (15-year olds). The next lesson, Introduction to the United Kingdom, was taught by John Little from the European School of Culham. The students were from the second grade of Gimnazjum. The last lesson was conducted by Aleksandra Zaparucha, who taught a lesson to the first-grade Liceum students on Map reading.

After lunch the following presentations were held:

·        Daniela Schmeinck (Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany), To o late or to o early - Teaching Geography in Primary School on how young learners see maps;

·        Andrew Powell & Jonathan Edwards (Kingston University, the UK) on Teaching about Europe on a Primary BA Teaching Degree Course);

·        Olivier Mentz (Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg, Germany) on several aspects of teaching about Europe: Europe matters! 10 reasons why School Geography should teach a European dimension);

·        John Halocha (Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln, the UK) on Images, perceptions and questions: Europe through the eyes of children in England;

·         Servet Karabag, Salih Sahin & Mustafa Öztürk (Erciyes University & Gazi University, Turkey) on Geography Curriculum of 2005 and its Reflections to Teacher Education Programmes of Geography in Turkey: Expectations and Recommendations.

After dinner, the entire group got on a coach to take part in a trip to the Castle in Golub-Dobrzyń, which is about 40 km from Toruń. There, after a guided tour and an exciting presentation of the medieval knight show, the shooting contest started followed by an evening meal.

On Saturday the presentations included the following topics:

·        Aleksandra Zaparucha (10th School Complex in Toruń, Poland) on how bilingual Geography teaching is viewed by an English teacher: How much English teaching in Geography teaching,

·        Mustafa Öztürk (Erciyes University, Egitim Fakültesi Kayseri, Turkey) on European Dimension in Geography Teacher Education Programmes in Turkey: Student Teachers' Experiences;

·        Dorota Grudzińska (Gdynia Bilingual High School No 3, Poland) on 
Bilingual Geography Course;

·        Iwona Piotrowska (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland) on
Cognitive and application aspects in the bilingual teaching of Geography;

·        Desmond John Bowden, Mark Chidler & Pam Copeland (Newman College of Higher Education Birmingham, the UK) on Brussels: Enquiry Based Learning: more than just a way of thinking;  

·        María Luisa De Lazaro Y Torres (Real Sociedad Geográfica, Spain) on
Spain in the web: a GIS way of teaching;

·        Cichoń Małgorzata (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland) on
Pattern and environmental determinants of perception during experimental field classes;

·        Aleksandra Zaparucha (10th School Complex in Toruń, Poland) on 
Teaching geography through a project: a European and a linguistic dimension

            This day ended up with a guided tour around the city centre and an evening farewell meal. There was folk music to entertain the conference participants and plenty of opportunities to exchange the ideas.

            The most important gain of the conference was the first ever opportunity for the Geography teachers who teach their subject through English to take part in a conference organized especially for them. All the presentations were given in English, which itself was a great chance to practice listening skills. Additionally, the teachers could discuss their personal experiences and difficulties in delivering their subjects through a foreign language.

As the event proved to be successful, the National Centre for Further Training of Geography Teachers in Toruń, the main organizer of the conference, is already planning two meetings next year. In March there will be a weekend session for teachers from Poland. It is hoped to be prepared by the teachers themselves, who would have an opportunity to present their own practical ideas of delivering Geography through English. The next even will be held in summer and will be a week-long training conducted by Olivier Mentz from the Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg and Daniela Schmeinck from Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany. It will be a course designed purposely for the Polish Geography teachers who have no formal preparation for teaching English.


Map reading” - a lesson in Geography and English Integrated Learning 

Aleksandra Zaparucha
This article presents a lesson taught at the School Complex number 10 in Toruń during the conference on bilingual Geography teaching, which took place from 5th to 8th October 2006.

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