The article gives an overview of trends in foreign language curriculum construction as the most important determinant of successful language education. Tendencies in syllabus design are here analyzed from the point of view of criteria employed and syllabus types produced. For approximately thirty postwar years syllabus designers based their work on solely linguistic criteria. The work of the Council of Europe on the promotion of the communicative approach started in 1970 invited psychological and pedagogical criteria. Professional mobility within the EU paved the way for a set of criteria springing form the learners' needs. Accurate needs analysis cannot, however, be completed unless factors of range and status of a given language are not taken into account. The missing criterion can be built around Kachru's concept of language range and Gnutzmann's theory of language status as both lead to a distinction between languages taught as 'linguae francae' and those taught as non-international languages. Educational objectives identified for the teaching of 'an international language' are different from those of 'a foreign language' and helps outline varied curriculum scenarios for both groups of languages, with strong implications for the teaching of Polish as a foreign language . Main differences relate to the role of the nativeness criterion, socio-cultural norms and collocational competence. Documents issued by the EU, ALTE and the Council of Europe offer no more than a limited degree of assistance through recommended syllabus structure, sets of descriptors and/or operational can-do statements. The efficient solution can be found in curricular inventories as demonstrated by the SOCRATES TiPS Project including the A1 Level syllabus for the teaching of Polish as a foreign language. Implications for the teaching of Polish as a foreign language are then analyzed
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