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quote of the day

Avoid in youself what you think wrong in your neighbour.




: : European club
.:Return:.


 

     "Strength in European Diversity"

This undertaking covered partnership with a few European schools within eTwinning programme on the project about cultural diversity of our countries and breaking stereotypes about particular nations. We have also made the PowerPoint presentation summing up our conclusions about national stereotypes and giving examples of the best jokes about Europeans.

  1. Project Schedule & Assignment
  2. Polish Jokes
  3. Jokes about stereotypes and their explanation
  4. How Nations See Others
  5. Stereotypical image of Poles
  6. Breaking stereotypes
  7. Should we based our opinion on stereotypes?
  8. Negative aspects of making stereotypes
  9. Poles - our weak points
  10. Proposal for web presentation including the best jokes about foreigners
  11. Exhibition in school hall
  12. Visual Material – Vices of Poles and German.
    Welcome to Poland and Germany
  13. Student's emails


Project Schedule & Assignment

TITLE: Strength in European Diversity

SHORT DESCRIPTION:
We will exchange ideas about culture aspects: stereotypes made by various nations and traditions preserved by each country. It will be both entertaining and educational because it will allow us to get to know our customs better. What’s more, it’s good to be able to laugh at our national vices and strive for better.

AIMS
The more knowledge about a foreign country and its local people, the better understanding of European diversity”: breaking stereotypes, awareness that variety lies in diversity; process from unknown to better understanding, tolerance towards others; use of IT,developing language skills.

WORK PROCESS

  • October – Let’s know each other better; auto-presentation, group photo; Our hometown – optional.
  • November – Our school environment: education system and school life/events
  • December – How do we celebrate Christmas and spend Christmas holidays?, regional customs and dishes.
  • January – Welcoming New Year: New Year’s Eve Party and winter vacation, practicing sports.
  • February – Jokes about Europeans; what national characteristics they imply
  • March – Breaking stereotypes –exchanging opinions about false images of particular nations, their origin and consequences on our attitudes to other nationalities , how we see foreigners and if such stereotypes make sense
  • April – Preparing common multimedia presentation, making video films
  • May - summing up: similarities and differences; posters and/or website presentations.

STUDENT'S PRODUCTIONS
Email,. Forum, Chat Skype, pictures, survey, posters or school exhibition, webpresentations powerpoint, video films, web publishing.

Assigment
Your task is to do research into the stereotypes concerning your country and its citizens, their possible reasons and consequences, and any changes about the way people from your country are perceived abroad

The main source of information is the Internet. Browsing it, students are to find jokes based on national stereotypes. Later, they read them out to the rest of group who are to guess what national characteristics are implied by particular jokes. Then, pupils express their opinions if they agree with this stereotype or not. They could also find reasons of such a stereotypical thinking and try to explain its origin. Further step for each group is to present the findings to their European peers to compare and exchange ideas in the forum, by chat or emails. Finally, all members of eTwinning team make up a visual material to summarize the project in the form of a power point presentation, a poster or a written report.

Let’s sum up. I hope it made you more aware of the stereotypical image of Poles, French, Portuguese and German, its reasons and consequences, as well as of the need to create a new image of your country and its citizens. Although stereotypes are by nature resistant to change, we must do our best to prove them erroneous. After all, they are false, aren't they?

Prepared by Mirona



POLISH JOKES
The most charcteristic jokes about Poles:
'At the international congress the chairman looks at his watch and says: "Well, it's five to two and the Polish delegation hasn't arrived yet. Let's wait for them another ten minutes." After ten minutes he wants to look at his watch once again and then he finds it's missing. "Well, I see that Poles have already arrived.'

Others
Polish Joke 1 - Two Poles are building a house. One of them is putting on the siding. He picks up a nail, hammers it in. Picks up another nail, throws it away. Picks up a nail, hammers it in. Picks up another, throws it away. This goes on for a while, and finally his friend comes over and asks him why he is throwing half of the nails away. He replies, "Those ones were pointed on the wrong end." His Polish friend gets exasperated and says "You idiot, those are for the other side of the house!"

Polish Joke # 2 - Two Poles emigrated to America. On their first day in New York City, they spotted a hot dog vendor in the street. "Do they eat dogs in America?" one asked the other. "I dunno." "Well, we're going to live here, so we might as well learn to do as they do." So they each bought a hot dog wrapped up and sat down to eat them on a nearby park bench. One Pole looked at his hot dog, then over at the other Pole and asked, "What part did you get?" (?)

Polish Joke # 3 - These two Polish guys rent a boat and go fishing on a lake. They are amazed at the number of fish that they caught that day, so one says to the other, "We'll have to come back here tomorrow!" The other asks, "But how will we remember where this spot is?" The first guy then takes a can of spray paint, paints an X on the bottom of the boat, and says, "We'll just look for this X tomorrow." The other guy says, "You idiot! How do you know we'll get the same boat?" (idiot - thoughtless)

Polish Joke # 4 - Did you hear about the Polish Admiral who wanted to be buried at sea when he died? Five sailors died digging his grave. (too patriotic)
Polish Joke # 6 - Q: Why do Polish names end in "ski" ? A: Because they can't spell toboggan.

Polish Joke # 7 - A Polish worker is hired to paint the lines on the road. On the first day he paints ten miles, and his employers are amazed. But, the second day he painted just five, and on only the third day, he painted only a mile of the road. Disappointed his boss asks what the problem was. The Pole replies, "Well sir, every day I have to walk farther and farther to get back to the paint bucket." (thoughtless)

Polish Joke # 8 - Q: What does it say on the bottom of a Coke bottle in Poland? A: Open other end. (addle-head – tępak)

Polish Joke # 9 - Q: How do you break a Pole's finger? A: Hit him on the nose. (?)

Polish Joke # 10 - Two Poles are talking about their friend who immigrated to America. "Did you hear about Bartek? He opened up a jewellery store after just one year in America!" "How did he do that?" "With a crowbar."

Polish Joke #11 - How to drive a Pole nuts? Put him in a round room and tell him to stand in the corner.

Polish Joke #12 - Q: How did the Germans conquer Poland so fast? A: They marched in backwards and the Polish thought they were leaving.

Polish Joke #13 - A blonde was telling a priest a Pollock joke, when halfway through the priest interrupts her, "Don't you know I'm Polish?" "Oh, I'm sorry," the blonde apologizes, "do you want me to start over and talk slower?"


JOKES ABOUT STEREOTYPES AND THE ORIGIN
French stereotypes
During the second world war , Americans had some love with French girls. That’s why they are considered like « easy » girl or prostitutes. Movies describing the years 1800-1900, where we could see a lot of girls trying to support themselves as prostitutes. By advertising where the women are naked. Every American thinks that the French are impolite and snotty because we aren’t as friendly as Americans: what they mean by “friendly” is that we don’t try to hold a long conversation with someone and we respond to things with very few words. During the religion war, the catholic people didn’t want use water to wash themselves because it meant that they give an attention about their body so they have the devil-inside. Le Pen is a negative point and gave a negative image of France in the United States of America and in Europe. Globally, the stereotypes that Americans have on the French seem to be explained by history, literature, fashion, sport and the media.
(Prepared by the French Group)

German Jokes and thier interpretation
In a restaurant, a Frenchman, a Chinaman, a German, a Russian, and a Jew all were served tea, and in each glass there was a fly floating. The Frenchman looked at the fly, threw up, and ran out. The Russian drank tea and swallowed the fly. The German pulled the fly from the tea, sucked it thoroughly, threw the fly to a garbage can, and drank his tea. The Chinese ate the fly and left the tea intact. The Jew sold the tea to the German, the fly to the Chinese, and ordered another tea.
Content
In a restaurant a group of 5 persons of 5 different nationalities orders tea, which has been served with a fly in each cup. Actions of the protagonists are pointed out and the reaction of the antagonist follows with the punch line.
Analyse
Each person represents a certain nationality which is supported and shown up by their behaviour. The used stereotypes of the Frenchman, Chinaman, German, Russian and the Jew are demeaning to these nationalities. The Jew plays the most important role in this joke. He is described as the one who uses all his advantages and tricky knowledge to satisfy his greed.
Characterization and punch line
  • Frenchman - bourgeois, gourmet, can’t stand the situation, stands for good manners
    Origin - Frenchmen are often described as gourmets of the upscale cuisine and that they can’t bear up against anything.
  • Russian - doesn’t care about the fly, characterized as hard guy
    Origin - Russians, oppositional to the Frenchmen, are told to be experienced in hard situations. What they have shown in the past against the Americans while Cold War or 2nd World War.
  • German - clean and correct type, accuracy
    Origin - Often compared with bureaucratic correctness. Everything has to be at its place for the German and used as it should be used.
  • Chinaman - poor taste
    Origin - Chinamen are told to be people with an exotic taste like eating cats and dogs
  • Jew - uses his cleverness to gain an economical advantage
    Origin - During the centuries the stereotype of the Jews has been constituted as cash hungry businessman, who would make out of everything a deal.


Italian Jokes and comments
A man dies and goes to heaven. He finds two doors: one is German and the other Italian . He decides to have a new experience; that’s why he enters through the German door. “What shall I do?”- he asks. A German answers: “There’s the shovel, there’s the cart, fill it up with the compost and take it beyond the mountain”.
Days, months, years go by. The man regrets his choice: he would have worked less if he had chosen the Italian door. So he goes out and enters through the Italian door. “What shall I do?”- he asks. An Italian answers: “There’s the shovel, there’s the cart, fill it up with the compost and take it beyond the mountain”.
He replies: “But I’ve already done it by the German people! There’s no difference!”. “No”- the Italian returns- “when you were there you were working, now one time the shovel is out of order, another time the cart runs out…”

Commentary:
These are two German jokes: the former is about the Italians’ height, the latter about an Italian social aspect. According to Germans, Italians are short, which is quite understandable because Germans compare themselves to Italians. Also, Italians are considered as people who don’t want to work hard. They generally complain about the poor equipment or malfunction of something as an excuse to postpone work.
Like most jokes, the points made can reflect two aspects of the Italian culture, but actually truth includes their reverse, too.
Let’s never frame and label people and situations without valuing carefully circumstances.

HOW OTHERS SEE US
In a restaurant, a Frenchman, a Chinaman, a German, a Russian, and a Jew all were served tea, and in each glass there was a fly floating. The Frenchman looked at the fly, threw up, and ran out. The Russian drank tea and swallowed the fly. The German pulled the fly from the tea, sucked it thoroughly, threw the fly to a garbage can, and drank his tea. The Chinese ate the fly and left the tea intact. The Jew sold the tea to the German, the fly to the Chinese, and ordered another tea.

When a German doesn't know one thing... HE LEARNS IT.
When an American doesn't know one thing... HE PAYS TO LEARN IT.
When a British doesn't know one thing... HE BETS ON IT.
When a French doesn't know one thing... HE PRETENDS HE KNOWS IT.
When a Spanish doesn't know one thing... HE ASKS FOR AN EXPLANATION.
When a Greek doesn't know one thing... HE CHALLENGES YOU ON WHO IS RIGHT.
When an Irish doesn't know one thing... HE DRINKS ON IT.
When a Swiss doesn't know one thing... HE STUDIES IT.
When an Italian doesn't know one thing... HE TEACHES IT!!!


Once upon a time Devil attracted a Pole, an Englishman, a German guy and a Frenchman on the rocks. He walked up to Englishman and told him:
- Jump!
- No! I won’t jump.
- The gentleman would jump.
Englishman jumped to the precipice.
Devil came up to German guy and said:
- Jump!
- No! I won’t jump.
- It is an order!
German guy jumped.
Devil walked up to Frenchman and said:
- Jump!
- No! I won’t jump.
- But now so there is a fashion.
Frenchman jumped.
Devil came up to Pole and told him:
- Jump!
- No! I won’t jump.
- Jump!
- No! I won’t jump.
- Won’t you jumped? OK. Don’t jump.
Pole jumped to the chasm.
Compiled by Polish, French, German and Italian


WHAT'S THE STEREOTYPICAL IMAGE OF POLES? Love enjoying themselves during shows/spectacles or parties
Drunkenness – many drunk men (drunkards) in the streets especially in villages
Eager to find a pretext so as not to do anything e.g. when sth happens, a crowd gathers, lots of onlookers, passers-by who stare at sb’s misfortune or any malfunction
Badly organized at work
More creative at work than other nations – ask questions, don’t do tasks only because the boss ordered to do (contrary to Americans who follow superior’s orders automatically without questioning)
Quarrelsome – susceptible to disagreements
Prone to perversity (przekorni)
Love freedom, independence
Show lack of respect for other people’s property
Emotional & homely –show emotional attachment to family and strong ties with friends
Attractive, sensationally pretty women
Prejudiced policemen
Corrupted politicians
Devoted patriots paying attention to tradition and proud of history
Translated by Mirona


BREAKING STEREOTYPES
A FIXED SET OF IDEAS ABOUT WHAT A PARTICULAR TYPE OF PERSON OR THING IS LIKE , WHICH IS WRONGLY BELIVED TO BE TRUE IN ALL CASES.

Heaven - is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it's all organized by the Swiss.
Hell - is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it's all organized by the Italians.


Did you find the joke amusing? Would you change anything about it? Would you improve it by changing some of the nationalities? Where would you put the Poles/Portuguese/Czech?

NATIONS AND THEIR CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES:
Polish – hospitable
Italian – amorous
Swedish - formal, stiff
Belgian - show lack of fantasy
Dutch – pedantic, meticulous
Greek - homosexuals
British – kind, reserved
German – accurate, punctual
Japanese – attached to tradition
Do you have other ideas? Add other adjectives describing nationalities.

DO NATIONAL STEREOTYPES MAKE SENSE?
To some extent yes because:
Stereotypes help us understand the behaviour of others
Due to background knowledge, we are less offended or disgusted by the behaviour of foreigners, it helps us avoid unpleasant situations - we know what to expect as we can identify customs abhorrent to us and not to act in an offensive way (e.g. burping in some countries is common and means that meal was great)
Stereotypes give us incentive to travel and/or learn about others
They could give us an impulse for further learning, encouragement to visit the country, interest in culture. Thanks to travels, we can see cultural diversity of other countries, get to know different lifestyles, become more tolerant.
Stereotypes might be a stimulus for self-improvement - We feel tempted to eradicate vices and improve behaviour to prove to others that the stereotype was false.
Compiled by Mirona
STEREOTYPES ARE UNFAIR
People base their opinions about foreigners on national stereotypes. Do you think it’s fair and gives real image of a particular nation?

People like going by simplistic outlook. We size other people up on the strength of stereotypes. If we saw a blonde and a brunette, we would think a blonde isn’t as smart as a brunette. However, it isn’t true. Predominantly, this stereotype is very unfair. The Color of hair isn’t measure of intelligence, especially that today hair dying is common and it’s hard to distinguish genuine colour. What’s more, we know a lot of stereotypes about other nationality. It’s a mixed blessing because Poles are looked on as very hospitable people. On the other hand, foreigners think that every Pole is a drunkard. I think it’s really unjust. Why do people base their opinions about foreigners on national stereotypes? There are a lot of answers.
Firstly, I think that people don’t want to get more information about other culture. If they heard bad things about foreigners, they aren’t eager to get to know them better. Such an attitude is not conducive to debunking this stereotype. Secondly, a lot of stereotypes are based on historical aspect. For example, in the Second World War Germans thought that they were the best nation in the world. They fought with Poles and Jews. Germans aren’t nationalistic now. We can’t say every German thinks that he is better than different nations. It was Adolph Hitler’s idea but not all Germans. One German historical person created this stereotype.
As for nowadays, we are learning how to be tolerant. We try to break stereotypes and get to know more about others before we judge them. Our government is struggling against the negative image of our country and the nation. For instance, Polish days are organized in foreign countries. Germans, Frenchmen or Spaniards have a chance to compare stereotypes with the real face of the Polish nation.. Besides, it’s worth mentioning here some national stereotypes in Europe. Swedish are looked on as very formal and stiff people. British are said to be kind but rather reserved. Dutch are thought to be pedantic and meticulous, Belgian show lack of fantasy. Italians are amorous. I think we can’t generalize. Every person is different from others. As for German, Swedish or Dutch their stereotypical features are caused by a peculiarity of their government’s organization. The British are compared to royalty and they are looked on as reserved because of their gentility designation. As for Italian, their stereotypes is caused of their ‘hot’ temperament.
To sum up, I think sizing people up on the strength of stereotypes is very unfair. We ought to try to find out more about others before we give a judgement. Nowadays nations are fighting with their stereotypical face and show their real features.
Elaborated by Radosława Bociek, class 2e


NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF MAKING STEREOTYPES
In the world of culture there are a lot of stereotypes which unnecessarily are true. People are guided by them but is it good? To my mind - not because stereotypes can give us only a general idea of the country and its inhabitants. Through overgeneralization, we have a distorted or incomplete image of a nation.
To start with, stereotypes are a source of misunderstanding and ethnic discrimination. Most stereotypes show a false image of people and cultures. Those who believe in them are likely to look at others from a wrong perspective. They treat them as inferior and are full of racial prejudices.
What is more, stereotypes can also make beautiful and interesting countries or nations become unpopular. They show usually a negative image of a country and prevent foreigners from visiting it. For example- Germany. Stereotypes of German people often show them as menacing, unkind and strict. After all, not every German is such a person. We shouldn’t pigeonhole the whole nation into one category. Many of them are highly valued for their incredible accuracy and punctuality, and their country is worth being visited by foreigners to see many interesting historic buildings and other tourist attractions etc.
Besides, stereotypes generate tensions between people. Some of them often misinterpret other people’s words and actions, basing negative opinions on stereotypes. What’s worse, they don’t take trouble of finding out for themselves what the other people are really like. If someone believes in stereotypes too much, one is likely to violate customs or traditions and get into trouble or argue with somebody.
I think we should break certain stereotypes which are harmful to people as they ascribe vices displayed by a small number of people to whole nations. Many people who represent those cultures may feel offended by such unfair treatment. The best idea would be to visit a foreign country and spend a certain period of time with its inhabitants to have a chance to confront a stereotype with reality. Such a visit will surely teach us tolerance to others as well as treat our weak points with a grain of salt. Another idea would be improving our behaviour to prove others that the stereotype was false. I wish in future stereotypes would show only positive image of each country and its local people.
Compiled by Joanna Madura class 1 c


POLES - OUR WEAKER POINTS
What about the nature of Poles , so praised by Winston Churchill during the Second Word War? Are we still perceived as a great nation ? Not necessarily . Undoubtedly, we have many character traits in our favour such as hospitality , generosity and patriotism . However , our Achilles heel is our lack of optimism . Polish people seem to be gloomy , unenthusiastic and unfriendly. We rarely smile and have no confidence in our abilities . In the West , especially in the United States , it is standard to “ keep smiling”, even in times of trouble, but in Poland most people are fatalist who prefer to complain and grouch. Moreover , we are accused of being un-enterprising and lacking in initiative. We are inclined to sit on our hands and wait for instruction rather than tackle challenges on our own. At the same time , we are envious and ready to label achievers “thieves” and “cheats” .
Another classic Polish vice is laziness .Most of us are loafers who do not have any sense of personal responsibility, and prefer idle time away. Celebrating , feasting and partying seem to be more important than work and duty. Furthermore, we are not persistent enough and often do not complete the tasks which are assigned to us.
At the same time, we are lousy at understanding and processing simple texts , messages , and instructions , for example for using household equipment . A report presented recently by “OECD” indicates that the most Poles are functionally illiterate and cannot interpret data in charts and diagrams or do simple calculations such as the interest rate on a bank deposit. The authors of this report claim that our ignorance reduces Poland‘s chances for dynamic economic growth and effective competition . If we don’t change our mentality and eliminate national faults, we will lag behind other countries in the civilization race. That’s why the educational reform was introduced a few years ago focused on completely different tasks done during A-level exams to teach pupils new skills: logical thinking and cause-effect analysis, problem-solving abilities and not only cramming words and learning by heart.
Nevertheless now it’s a bit better. In the past Poles had a very poor knowledge of foreign languages .They also lacked in many practical skills such as operating computers, using the Internet or even a mobile phone. They were neither musical nor athletic .The list of things we couldn’t do included: playing instruments, playing tennis, chess, bridge, horse riding, skiing and swimming.


PROPOSAL FOR WEB PRESENTATION
THE BEST EUROPEAN JOKES:
  1. Q: Why do Italian men wear lots of gold chains around their necks?
    A: So they know when to stop shaving.
  2. Once upon a time Devil attracted a Pole, an Englishman, a German guy and a Frenchman on the rocks. He walked up to Englishman and told him:
    - Jump!
    - No! I won’t jump.
    - The gentleman would jump.
    Englishman jumped to the precipice.
    Devil came up to German guy and said:
    - Jump!
    - No! I won’t jump.
    - It is an order!
    German guy jumped.
    Devil walked up to Frenchman and said:
    - Jump!
    - No! I won’t jump.
    - But now so there is a fashion.
    Frenchman jumped.
    Devil came up to Pole and told him:
    - Jump!
    - No! I won’t jump.
    - Jump!
    - No! I won’t jump.
    - Won’t you jumped? OK. Don’t jump.
    Pole jumped to the chasm.
  3. Q: What do Frenchmen do after making love with a woman?
    A: 5% lights a cigarette, 5% has a snack, 10% turns back and snores, 80% gets dressed and comes back to a wife.
  4. Q: What’s the difference between an Englishwoman and a Frenchwoman?
    A: On 21st June the first will say: It’s the longest day in the year, and the other: It’s the shortest night in the year.
  5. In Portugal people become more and more pessimists. Once, when the Portuguese was asked: How are you? He used to say: Thanks, very well. Now to the same question he answers: Much better than tomorrow.
  6. The talk between two German drivers who got stuck in a traffic jam on highway:
    - we pay a lot for motorways
    - but we also make use of them very long!
  7. Why are there so many churches in Rome?
    So that pedestrians could pray before crossing the street.
  8. The Simpsons stop their Rover in front of the cathedral in Chartres.
    Mr Simpson says: You go inside and I will do sightseeing from outside and just then we will gain time.
  9. Guiseppe Alitalli from Palermo found a job in Anti-mafia Ministry. He comes back home very tired.
    Your job is so tiring, isn’t it? – his wife Rosita asks.
    You’re absolutely right! The boss ordered us to work as if there were 5 of us. Oh, you poor thing!
    It’s good that there 10 of us in the office.

EXHIBITION IN THE HALL

VISUAL MATERIAL
Foreigners can expectPerfect PolePerfect GermanWelcome to Germany

STUDENT'S EMAILS
Christmas in Poland and France - Spotting Similarities and Differences

Hello!

I’d like to tell you something about similarities and differences in celebrating Christmas in France and Poland.
When it comes to similarities, in both countries that holiday is very popular and people like it very much! In Christmas time people from Poland and France are decorating fronts of the houses, Christmas trees with lights and special shining balls and what's more, under that trees we can find presents! Next similarity is Christmas Eve when we have special supper with our families and sing Christmas carols. In both countries that holiday is an occasion to reconciliation and spending a lot of time with our families.
How about differences? Well, the first one is having different meals on Christmas Eve supper. In Poland we consume 12 various dishes, for example carp which is the most popular fish in our country, a red or white borsch, dumplings filled with fried cabbage and mushrooms There can’t be any meaty dish because Poles refrain from eating meat on that day !Quite the contrary, the French eat foie gras (a pate made from goose liver marinated in cognac and truffles) and turkey (so there could be meat). In both countries we put gifts under the Christmas trees, but the time when we open them is different – in Poland soon after supper but in France at midnight. When French people open boxes with presents, Poles go to church to spend a few hours at special Midnight Mass (“Pasterka”), which is only once a year. There are a few differences and a few similarities but they are not very important. I can definitely say that the meaning of Christmas is the same in both countries.

Lots of love, Ada (Sztuka)



Similarities and differences in celebrating Christmas holidays and customs in Poland and France.
Let’s start from similarities in celebrating this holiday. In the letters of both our groups I read that it’s one of the most important holidays in the year and I agree with it. You wrote that it’s the most important because of family gathering and nice atmosphere. Another similarity is that we gather with our family to eat special supper. In Poland it’s called “Wigilia” (Christmas Eve) and in both countries we decorate a tree which is symbol of new life starting with “Jesus Christ birth” Another similarity is that both you and we keep one empty place at the Christmas table for an unexpected guest. In both our countries we used to sing carols after Christmas Eve supper and during Yule. And these are all similarities which I can find in celebrating Christmas.
When it comes to differences I think the most important is that we have different dishes which are eaten during the Christmas Eve supper. In France you eat: turkey with potatoes, salmon, oysters and foie gras. According to the Polish tradition we have 12 meals and we can’t eat meat during the Christmas Eve and the main meal is carp (fish). Second difference is that we in Poland open presents just before supper and you in France open it at midnight. At midnight we are at the church to attend a special liturgy called “Pasterka” (Midnight Mass). You have written that between supper and midnight (opening presents) some of you watch tales (e.g. Disney tales) – in Poland we don’t do that.
In Poland we always have some customs like: sharing a holy wafer which is connected with exchanging wishes, putting hay under the table-cloth before Christmas Eve supper and these are only some of our traditions. I couldn’t find any reference to this sort of customs in France, so I don’t know if they are similar or different. To conclude, I think both of us have similar Christmas holidays, there are only some small differences but generally meaning of Christmas is the same.
“May all your Christmas holidays be full of God blessing and the Peace of Lord every year will fill your souls”

Yours,
Matthew (Lorenc)


Hi, J I’ll tell you something about New Year and I’ll try to describe my Winter season. As a matter of fact New Year ‘s Eve, which is called ‘Sylwester’ in Poland falls on 31st of December. People say goodbye to Old Year J and welcome New Year with their friends or family. In villages, the day and evening is spent more traditionally. The last evening of the year is usually accompanied with meetings with friends or family reunions. These private parties are filled with fabulous dancing, drinking and music.
New Year's Eve in Poland has evolved over the years. The earlier community celebrations have given way to more and more private parties and celebrations. Many of the older generations prefer visiting the church for a quiet prayer. The ways of celebrations have changed in Warsaw as well as in Cracow. In Warsaw, people congregate in Castle Square, in front of the King Castle. The national Christmas tree is placed there. In Cracow, the people gather in front of the Market Square in front of St. Mary's Church. The church fireman plays the bugle call at midnight. Poles watch quite a lot of firework displays as well. The heralding of the New Year is done in style and the whole country rejoices at the crack of midnight. The New Year is welcomed by greetings to family and friends and toasting the New Year continues till late at night.
I spent the last New Year Eve with my friends. We were at a club, dancing almost all the time. J It was a great party, especially a charming display of fireworks.
As for Winter season, it varies each year – now it falls on the period from 14th to 28th of January in our province. Like many other young people I left for the Tatra Mountains, a mountain range which forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. I was in Zakopane for five days and in Slovakia for two days.J Zakopane is the centre of winter sports. The town is situated in a valley in the Tatra Mountains. I was there with my two cousins and our friends.J We practised mainly snowboarding & a little skiing. I enjoy "living on the edge" like the freedom that comes with the speed, the jumps and the daring board tricks. I love the thrill and risk which are associated with it. We also admired the beautiful panorama of the mountains or went for a long walk in the National Park. The Tatras are a real paradise. We had an unforgettable experience. From there we could see a wonderful view of the surroundings. We could admire majestic mountains covered in white snow and evergreen spruce forests. We put on waterproof pullovers, to protect ourselves from snow and wind, hiking boots and headed for hiking trails.. The beauty of the mountain landscape and the communion with nature made my holidays an unusual experience.
Next year I would like to go to the mountains again because I had a very good there.

Hot regards for all,
Edyta (Grądziel)


Education system in Poland

Hello,


I’d like to tell You something about the education system in Poland.
In our country, education is obligatory when children are 6 years old and then they go to the so called “0” class in the Kindergarten. Kids learn an alphabet, numbers, they play with other children and strike up an acquaintanceship or friendship with them. Recently, in most kindergartens children learn English! They sing songs and introduce numbers and an alphabet in English. When children are 7, they start education in the Primary School. It lasts 6 years. In the first three classes children learn only a little of each subject. Within the last three years, they get acquainted with about 13 subjects. They are for example: Polish, Mathematics, English, Art, Music, Natural Science, Religion, Physical Education and IT. After finishing the Primary School kids must sit a special test which checks level of their knowledge. Then, they can go to Junior High School (Gymnasium). It starts at the age 13 and lasts for another 3 years. Teenagers learn subjects similar to Primary’s School subjects, but of course they get familiarized with more advanced knowledge. Moreover, pupils have a chance of studying another foreign language. It could be Russian, German or French. After that school students are supposed to tale a special test of Humanities and Natural Science. Then, they are supposed to choose High School, having a choice of either Secondary Comprehensive School where education lasts 3 years or a Technical School which lasts 4 years.
At the moment I’m going to a Secondary Comprehensive School (Grammar one according to the British standards) to the class with the extended curriculum of the major subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics. I focus more attention on these subjects than on the others, but I also learn History, Math, IT, Geography, Polish and so on. In my school students have a variety of foreign languages to pick up for example English, German, Russian, French or even Latin. After completing the third class, we are expected to take the A-level Final exams called in Poland “Matura”. During these exams students have to prove their good command of Polish, English and other subjects that they can choose. I’ll probably select Biology and Chemistry. I’m considering sitting the exam in Physics, too. In Polish school, lessons continue for 45 minutes and between them there are breaks which last 5, 10 or even 20 minutes. We have about 7 lessons a day, sometimes less but sometimes more, it depends. The atmosphere in our school is very nice because people are very friendly.
Besides, in our school there are many opportunities of activity. I belong to Ecological Society, School Choir and European Club. Also lots of my peers are members of Africa Support Club, Journalism Society, School Sports Club (they play volleyball, handball or even basketball) and others.
When it comes to trips, we can go on one or sometimes two trips within a school year. This term my class has been on an integration trip in the old town called Sandomierz. It is a really beautiful town with old tradition. We’ve seen lots of interesting landmarks, having a lot of fun at the same time! This first trip was organized by our teacher, but another one will be arranged by ourselves. It seems that I have told you a lot of things about education system in Poland and my school and I hope it will interest you. I’m waiting for a letter about education in your country.

Take care, Ada (Sztuka)


What changes would you introduce into the Polish education system?
Schools exist in every country. They couldn’t be replaced by any other way of teaching. School is a very important part of life for each person. Without this experience, a person lacks at least the basic knowledge and skills, without which it is difficult to function in the society as a responsible citizen. Besides, school life is important for the emotional and mental development of a child. Moreover, children learn how to communicate and co-operate with others. However, I would introduce some changes into the Polish educational system.
First of all, I’d change duration of learning in particular levels of education. In my opinion, children should attend primary school for 8 years. After that they ought to take an exam. Besides, I would eliminate junior high schools (Gymnasium). After primary school students would go to secondary school, where is better atmosphere to learn and an opportunity to develop skills and interests as at the end of secondary school pupils take important exams which are called “Matura”.
Secondly, I’d introduce larger scale of evaluation. In my opinion, the best would be 10 degree scale. Nowadays we have 6 grades. The current assessment system seems unjust to some students. The larger scale the more objective evaluation could be.
Another innovation I’d introduce is that lessons should start not earlier than 8 a.m. and last until 2 p.m. at the latest because of poor transport connection in the late afternoon hours for students who have to commute to school.
All in all, the traditional way of school teaching is indispensable. However, I would change some things to make everything better. The current Polish education system is not bad but it needs a few changes to function more efficiently.

Suggestions made by Małgorzata Machnik, class 2e


English is a passport to the world. Do you agree with this saying?
I totally subscribe to this statement. Nowadays English is spoken in almost every single country in the world. It’s our global language. I can even say that it is essential to lead less stressful and more varied life.
Firstly, English is helpful in overcoming differences. The existence of English facilitates communication between people of different cultures and speakers of different languages who in today’s world often live side by side. Having a common language improves the understanding between them and helps to overcome obstacles.
Secondly, thanks to it we can travel less stressfully. We do not have to worry that we will not be able to communicate with the local people if we go abroad. English is taught in almost every single school in every town of the world, so there will be someone who can speak English for sure. The knowledge of it makes every external journey much more comfortable and easier.
Thirdly, English encourages progress in science. Since English has become the international language of science, most of the resources for various fields are in English. It enables scientists to participate in international conferences, trace the latest developments in their fields and contribute to the results of their own research for the benefit of others. It means that not only is it beneficial to scientists, but also to us – ordinary people.
Finally, English offers equal opportunities to everyone. As a world language, it helps people enjoy the same opportunities, regardless of their cultural background. If you want to learn it, it is not important where you live. You just must be ambitious, tenacious and never give up. As you learn the language, you will gain access to literature, music and Internet resources which are mostly in English. You can also study and work in many countries and communicate with people from the most distant places in the world.
To sum up, I think that thanks to English our lives can be much easier. We all ought to improve ourselves in speaking this language, because it is our passport to the contemporary world.

The opinion expressed by Karolina Zielińska, class 2e


The rapid development of IT is affecting our reading habits? Do you agree?
I could not agree more. In modern times reading has became less popular than a dozen years ago or so. Nowadays people do not read as often as before. Why has it changed so much? Have our reading habits really changed in such a great way? Are printed books going to be replaced by e-books? I will try to consider all these aspects.
To start with, people’s attitude to reading has considerably changed. Reading is regarded by some of us as dull and time-consuming whereas watching DVD films as exciting and faster. Presently, fewer and fewer young people read books. They prefer watching films that are book adaptations because movies are more effective visual presentations. If teenagers read classics, they do it for the sake of obligatory school duties, not for pleasure. What is more, adolescents do not really like a specific literary genre, for instance historical novels as they have little to do with the present. They rather choose adventure books or horrors as such books stir their imagination and raise adrenaline level. Both youngsters and adults read less often because of lack of spare time. Besides, people are tempted by other more attractive forms of leisure activities such as practising extreme sports or doing DIY and gardening.
Secondly, thanks to rapid development of IT getting information is much easier nowadays since we can find many things in the Internet. It is not necessary to spend long hours in libraries or reading rooms. Surfing the Internet is much faster and convenient. We have the access to the information from home or office, and not a bookstore. What is more, owing to electronic press, we can obtain the information for free without necessity of paying for books or newspapers.
Thirdly, the progress of information technology has developed new habits and expectations. We might have more options available at once, like for example DVDs featuring subtitles in many languages. Moreover, in the times of fierce competition we expect to find the information quickly, often before others are able to spot it. Thus, there are some commonly employed techniques of reading for example: browsing, dipping into, scanning or skimming. Hence, we do not need to read every single word of a book to have an idea what it is about. Another benefit is storing more information in a compact form, easily portable, without the need of heavy encyclopedias in many volumes.
(Nevertheless, there are also people who like reading printed books. Most of them have many criteria that they consider before deciding which book to read. Firstly, who is the book written by? It is important because if it is made up by a trendy author, it can be very good and interesting. Secondly, does it deal with problems he/she is interested in? Everyone has different interests. But there are so many various books that everybody can choose something for themselves. Finally, has it been read and recommended by someone he/she trusts? People just do not want to waste their time while reading something that is boring – if the book is bad, what does he/she has to read it for?)
To summarise, I think that e-books will not replace printed books. In spite of so many advantages of the IT-based information, I can also see many arguments in favour of reading books. First of all, books on the shelf can be consulted many times while the information posted on the web can quickly disappear.
Many books often have interesting stories and can even be passed from one generation to another! For me full book-cases look more impressive than CD racks. I hope that in future more people will read in their leisure time because a good book can really have a positive impact on our life.

Compiled by Karolina Zielińska, class 2e

 





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