Despite the poor command of the Polish language, special school students are taught according to the general basic curriculum. They have to face Macbeth or Ferdydurke in high school. Meanwhile, level A2 just means knowing frequently used words and understanding basic expressions. It is difficult to assume that students will come across plain language in these readings. The texts that deaf students struggle with or, according to the core curriculum, should struggle with, are completely incomprehensible to them. Their motivation to learn the Polish language decreases significantly.
I invited Agnieszka Bednarska, a teacher of Polish at the Institute of the Deaf, and a student of the Institute of the Deaf, Jolanta Korzec, who has mastered the Polish language at a high level, thanks to which she is able to communicate freely in this language. I believe that the student’s opinion, feelings and ideas, despite the lack of methodological knowledge, can be an inspiration and the basis for making changes.
BW: Jolu, when you talk to me, the hearing person, do you prefer to blink or talk? JK: I prefer to blink. I speak when the situation requires it. I don’t like being forced to speak. Sign language is my first language, so I’d like to sign. BW: But outside of school, in everyday life, do you use Polish?
JK: Yes. The Polish language is necessary for normal communication so that others don’t think the deaf are worse. I remember when I knew little Polish and communicating with hearing people was difficult. They were fooling even though I tried to convey my best message. Often, when I gave them information in Polish and they saw my mistakes, they would whisper to me: But stupid deaf …
Knowledge of the Polish language by the deaf will certainly help to overcome such a bad opinion. This language helps me a lot. For example, I can deal with my mother in the office. I know Polish better, so I speak or write on a piece of paper. Also, deaf people who know Polish well have better jobs. BW: How did you learn to speak?
JK: You could say that I have not studied at all, but I have talked since I was born, because my mother has given me a camera since I started going to kindergarten. I also went to speech therapy, because no one in my family could check if I was pronouncing certain sounds correctly. With profound hearing loss, it is very difficult for me to pronounce sentences accurately.
Now I use the word not only in school, but also when speaking in a shop, for example. If I ask others and they understand me, it means that I speak well, if they don’t understand I try to improve my way of speaking. However, to be able to converse normally with others, it is necessary to have a good command of the language. I myself started talking to other people after learning the Polish language. The first steps were very difficult because I can’t hear what others are saying. I always have to look at my lips and read their speeches, and it’s not easy at all.
BW: How did you learn the Polish language? JK: In primary school I didn’t study at home because I have a deaf family with whom I communicate in PJM. I lacked the motivation to study independently. It wasn’t until I was 13-14 that I started getting serious about my studies. Then I joined a sports club and met a hearing friend who was much older than me. He made me learn and controlled me all the time. Thanks to her, I gained some experience and have since learned Polish on my own.