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Foreign Languages Centre – History

In the autumn of 1945 the first team of teachers of English and Russian languages was established at the newly created University of Technology. In the following year the team was expanded to include teachers of German and Romance languages. The members of the first team of language teachers were: Ms Janina Rowińska, Edward Deszberg, MA, Eugenia Turtenlaub, MA and Maria Fonferko, MA. In that period there were no curricula for language teaching, no obligatory number of language classes, teaching programmes or additional materials. Nevertheless, there was enough involvement and enthusiasm for the process of studying.

The situation changed only in 1952 when the Ministry of Tertiary Education established the didactic units known as Foreign Languages Centres, which involved introducing an organizational structure and the first curricula. In full – time studies, two languages over the period of four semesters were taught and in extramural and evening studies, one language over the period of four semesters. The first Head of the Foreign Languages Centre at the Silesian University of Technology was Mrs Janina Rowińska, the Deputy Head was Irena Krzeczewska, MA and the Leaders of language teams were: Edward Deszberg, MA (the English Team – 3 teachers), Irena Krzeczewska, MA (the Russian Team – 7 teachers) and Hildegarda Pająk. MA (the German Team – 2 teachers). The only teacher of Romance languages was Maria Fonferko, MA. Also, the course of Polish language for foreigners was introduced, run by Olga Batowska, MA. The Centre was equipped with the secretary’s room and one lecture room. The library of the Centre was opened in 1953.

Over the next years the Centre grew larger together with the Silesian University of Technology. More didactic units were introduced, including the Evening Vocational Study in

Katowice, the Centres of Full-Time Studies and Extramural Studies in Bielsko-Biała, Kędzierzyn, Opole, Oświęcim, Rybnik and Tarnowskie Góry. In Gliwice in the 1960s the Centre was located on the third floor of the Faculty of Mining. Apart from lecture rooms, the teachers` room was organized, there was also a screening room. In 1964 an important event took place in the Centre: the first language laboratory in Poland was opened here. The laboratory was equipped with audiovisual facilities, constructed solely at the SUT. The laboratory had ten listening booths. The fact of opening the language laboratory at the SUT was highly acclaimed all over Poland and many important guests visited the laboratory, including H. Goliński, the Minister of Tertiary Education, and H. Minc, the Deputy Minister of Tertiary Education. Many articles about the language laboratory were published in Polish national newspapers. There were also numerous radio and television shows presenting the laboratory.

In the second half of the 1970s the Centre was given more didactic rooms, including one teachers` room for each Language Team. The teams at that time were: the Russian Team (24 teachers), the Team of Romance Languages (10 teachers), the German Team (6 teachers), and the English Team (14 teachers). 86 academic books and handbooks for students were published as well as exercise books from the Języki Obce (Foreign Languages) series.

The curricula and teaching methods of the Centre evolved over the years. The language laboratory and the screening room were closed and audio and video players and recorders were introduced in classes. The computer laboratory was opened in 1999. The academic books were withdrawn and original language handbooks were introduced. The language offer of the Centre was extended with the courses of French and Italian languages. For some time courses of Swedish and the Esperanto language were also organized.

At present the Centre offers the following language courses: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Polish as a foreign language. The offer is available to students of all fields and all cycles of study in Gliwice, Katowice and Zabrze.

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