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Online, czyli zdalnie by Justyna Zych

Here we are teaching Polish online as most teachers and lecturers of any subject in the times of the pandemic. We transferred our grammar and vocabulary exercises, group activities, and language games on Zoom, Google Meet, or MS Teams. Uczymy zdalnie or w trybie zdalnym, as we would call it in Polish. Are you familiar with these Polish phrases?

You might have a tendency to think that there are no Polish equivalents of the English computer- and Internet-related vocabulary that would be actually commonly used. And, let’s be honest, it seems simpler to use English terms that sound natural and obvious instead of wondering how they could be possibly replaced with a Polish word. But why would you miss out on the opportunity to include Polish versions of all these instructions typical for online teaching in your Polish language class? In fact, this is just another great way for your students to get acquainted with Polish vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar structures, such as different ways of giving commands, in a very authentic and up-to-date context.

So let’s see how to translate the most common Zoom/Meet/Teams-related instructions during your synchronous online Polish language course. Your class has just started. You have sent the link with the invitation to your class – link z zaproszeniem na zajęcia. You might have added a meeting ID and a password - identyfikator spotkania i hasło - as an extra security step. All your students have already joined the online meeting – dołączyli do spotkania. Do you hear some disruptive noise? Instead of asking your students to mute their microphones, you can address to them the following request: Proszę wyciszyć mikrofony or simply Proszę wyłączyć mikrofony. If you see several black rectangles signed with the students’ names instead of your students’ faces you may ask them to turn their camera on: Proszę włączyć kamerę. In case you want your students to use the chat option to ask questions, you can encourage them to do so by saying: Proszę pisać/zadawać pytania na czacie. That’s right, we do use the English word chat in Polish, but we have Polonized it to the point that we spell it phonetically, and we subject it to the case inflection. The Polish word pogawędka does not work in the virtual context. However, it could be still introduced to your students on the margin of these online commands as a synonym of an informal, friendly talk.

Another way to let the instructor know that someone in class would like to ask a question is to use the emoticon Raise Hand (Podnieś rękę) which is available in some of the online communication tools. This option would make your command sound like an instruction given in a traditional classroom: Proszę podnieść rękę or Proszę się zgłosić. The difference consists in the need of reminding your students to lower their hands once their question has been answered – Proszę opuścić rękę – so that you have a clear picture of how many people still want to say something at this point of your class.

And how to inform your students that you are going to share your screen with them? Za chwilę udostępnię Państwu/Wam swój ekran. The default setting is such that only a host of the meeting, that is gospodyni or gospodarz spotkania, can show to everyone a presentation, a file, or a video on their screen but you can also enable any of the participants of the meeting (uczestniczki/uczestnicy spotkania) to share their screen by making them a co-host - nadając im uprawnienia współgospodarza/współgospodyni spotkania.

If you are concerned that some intruder might show up in your class to disturb, you might consider enabling the option called Waiting Room (poczekalnia). That will prevent anyone from joining your class without your permission since you would have to let students in your virtual classroom one by one. Wpuszczać studentów na zajęcia z poczekalni – this is how it would be put in Polish. If you want to use this option, you should search for it in Settings, which is in Ustawienia.

For sure, you have planned many group activities for your language class. We have all got used to the online version of groups known as Breakout Rooms. In Polish, this useful option is referred to simply as pokoje or grupy. Za chwilę podzielę Państwa/Was na pokoje/grupy or Za chwilę znajdą się Państwo/znajdziecie się w oddzielnych pokojach – this is what you could say to your class. Proszę dołączyć do swoich pokoi/grup is an alternative command in this context. When you visit your students in their rooms, you may want to remind them how much time they are supposed to spend in their Breakout Rooms before coming back to the main room. You could say, for example: Za pięć minut proszę opuścić swoje pokoje i wrócić do głównego pokoju. It is also a good idea to encourage your students to ask for help if they need your guidance during a group activity in Breakout Rooms. They have a button "Ask for help" at their disposal, or "Poproś o pomoc," this is how one could translate this option into Polish.

Of course, there are more options available in the online communication platforms, but the ones described above are by far the most commonly used in language classes. I hope that you found these suggestions useful and that you will introduce some of these Polish instructions in your online Polish language classroom. Powodzenia!

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