The Czech Prison Service Academy has developed another unique programme within its language training. A former Polish prison director was invited to help facilitate a two-day workshop for a Czech group of eight prison professionals and four probation officers held in January 2020.
The goals were: improve communication skills with Polish counterparts, learn about the differences between the Czech and the Polish systems and share experience with organizing bilateral meetings.
The Czech and the Polish languages might seem quite similar to foreigners, but they differ a lot. They contain different sounds (phonemes) difficult to pronounce for each other. A number of words sound similar in both languages but they have totally different meanings, which often causes awkward misunderstandings. General Polish might be learnt either at language schools or with the help of dictionaries and textbooks. However, there is no penitentiary dictionary for Czech professionals who want to understand and be understood by their Polish colleagues.
That is why the seminar organized by the Czech Prison Service Academy can be considered highly practical.
The seminar helps to develop the Czech-Polish cooperation and to improve mutual understanding between Czech prison professionals and Czech probation officers.
Such language seminars should be supported by the prison and probation managers.
Iva Prudlová, the training programme initiator, coordinator and leader, joined the Prison Service of the Czech Republic in 2020. She was responsible for the international relations unit at the Office of the Director-General between 2008 and 2014. Since 2014, she has been working at the Prison Service Academy as a specialist in staff education within international cooperation.
Jacek Matrejek, the seminar Polish facilitator, started to work for the Polish Prison Service in 1987. Between 2005 and 2012, he was Director of Tarnow Prison. He is retired now and works part-time in Nowy Wiśnicz Prison, Poland. He also volunteers as a probation officer. Jacek teaches penitentiary pedagogy in a private school.
Pavel Zange, the seminar coach, is a bilingual prison professional. He is Director of Ostrov Prison, Czech Republic.