Advancing Our Language

As many of you know our Polish Language Coordinator Marzanna Owinski has recently returned for a business trip to Boston for the national convention of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).  ACTFL is the premier organization for the development and propagation of foreign language education.  With over 12,000 members from across our nation, this year’s conference drew over 7,000 people.

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Marzanna recognized the importance of being a part of this organization for the good of our mission in Polish language.  So just a short time after formally joining our Polish Mission team, we became members in September.  The next step was in-person attendance to the convention.  To our surprise, Marzanna was the sole advocate of the Polish language in attendance!  What a testimony to the great need for Polish language!  Just under 1,000 workshop sessions were offered throughout the weekend, on a most diverse variety of topics ranging from sign language courses, to metacognition & learning disabilities, to pedagogy & curriculum design.

As part of The Polish Mission’s dedication to the advancement of Polish language, we’ve taken the lead in our state to promote and teach our original language as far as possible.  As a part of this, we’re piloting an initiative to bring the Seal of Biliteracy to Michigan for not only Polish, but all other languages as well, marking a great advancement in our educational landscape.  It’s a symbol of recognition earned by foreign language students that offers future employers a chance to recognize language proficiency, and also gives the students themselves a tangible network of connections once they enter the job world.

Thanks to a late-night delay at the airport, Marzanna didn’t have as much sleep as most of the other participants, but that didn’t stop her from attending between six and eight workshop sessions each day, some focused on the Seal of Biliteracy, some on international student exchanges, some focused on the impact of high-school language programs on college credit,  and others focused on a special area of language development that we’re excited to engage: e-learning platforms.  Not only will Internet-based language education programs soon become conventional, but they allow language education to surmount barriers of travel and time constraints, which are two of the main challenges to teaching Polish here in Michigan.  Investigating and exploring options in this vein could spell a great success for our language throughout the state, considering that the State Board of Education actively encourages innovation in foreign language propagation.  The options are many and the benefits are great for embracing e-learning in nearly all disciplines, and we at The Polish Mission are eager to utilize the future of education in service to our legacy

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A final component of the trip was an opportunity seized by Marzanna: a meeting with David Bong, CEO of Avant Assessment.  It’s an organization that has pioneered assessment of language into real-world proficiency standards.  Researchers at the University of Oregon had presented the world’s first online language proficiency test, and since then David Bong, his wife Sheila, and Dr. Carl Falsgraf have developed our country’s leading organization for measuring language standards.  Language proficiency in Polish is currently measured by a variety of standards, and we’re excited to potentially develop a single, comprehensive standard, which could potentially be utilized nationwide.

All in all, the three day conference was a success that has and will continue to open doors to developing the advancement of our beloved original language.  All this was made possible by a great friend and supporter of The Polish Mission, Mr. Ray Okonski, a dedicated Polish-American whose example is a standard for all advocates of our culture.  Special thanks go to our friends at the Polish Embassy, especially Ms. Dagmara Jasińska, for their support of our work in advancing our culture through language.

If you’d like more information on how to join us in our efforts to promote Polish language, please contact Marzanna Owinski at (248) 683-0433 or mowinski@stmarysprep.com

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