Some thoughts on mediation in the matura exam

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dr Piotr Steinbrich

Mediation has been present in our educational system since the introduction of the school leaving exam at the primary level (egzamin ósmoklasisty). It consists in processing two short texts in English and then performing a gap-filling activity in the text presented in Polish or English. Generally, what the mediation exam task amounts to is information transfer at three levels: linguistic, textual and substantial.


At the level of language, the learner has to demonstrate an ability to see and understand the relationships between the source texts and the target one. At the textual level, the learners deal with different text types. The information given in English is presented in two texts, usually representing different genres, for example an advertisement and an email, and the task itself is performed with only one. That requires primarily the ability to synthesise information, but also the awareness of different genres. Thirdly, at the level of content the task addresses the understanding of a written text. The major differences between the mediation task and a typical reading comprehension task is the inclusion of Polish and checking the understanding with another text rather than resorting to reading comprehension questions. With the introduction of the new school leaving exam at the secondary level (matura), the situation is nearly identical. The learners, however, will be confronted with four, not two short source texts in English in order to perform a gap-filling task in the target text in Polish. Except for the number of texts, what is different is the level of language and text complexity.