The latest analysis of the Matura exam results shows yet again that the greatest challenge for most learners lies in their poor knowledge and management of vocabulary, fixed expressions, functional English items and more demanding grammar tested in the English in Use section. The students’ less than desired performance in this part of the exam may be caused by a number of factors from the general difficulty of coping with a variety of the language areas tested, novelty of some exam tasks or simply insufficient exposure to the types of the items tested. What is needed, it seems, is a more systematic and ‘Polish learner-friendly’ programme of teaching vocabulary and grammar in the context of the Matura tasks as well as a clever way of incorporating the necessary language in non-exam tasks. This is precisely what this Small Talk series sets out to achieve. The first part encourages the teachers to look critically at the factors which make English a challenging language for Polish students to master. I will explore the main language areas which cause the most problems to the learners and discuss the need to introduce a comparative approach to the Polish and English language systems while preparing the students for the Matura exam.
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