Polish Language Abroad: Teaching and Promotion

The Polish language, a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group, is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. However, its influence extends beyond the borders of Poland, reaching communities across the globe. 

Polish is not only the official language of Poland but is also used by the Polish diaspora worldwide. There are over 50 million Polish speakers worldwide, making it the sixth most-spoken language among the European Union. The language has found its place in various countries due to emigration from Poland at different times, most notably after World War II. 

Countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have significant Polish-speaking populations. In the United States alone, Polish Americans number more than 11 million. The 2000 United States Census reported that 667,414 Americans of age five years and over spoke Polish at home. 

In England and Wales, according to the 2011 census, over 500,000 people consider Polish to be their „main” language. In Canada, there are 242,885 speakers of Polish, with a particular concentration in Toronto and Montreal.

The teaching and promotion of the Polish language abroad are crucial in preserving the language and culture among the Polish diaspora. It also plays a significant role in fostering bilateral relations and cultural exchange between Poland and the countries where Polish is spoken. 

The Polish language’s geographic distribution was greatly affected by the territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II and Polish population transfers (1944–46). The language’s spread in various parts of the world is a testament to its resilience and the strong cultural identity of the Polish people.

The Polish government and various organizations have taken steps to promote the Polish language and culture abroad. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its „Polish language and culture around the world” program, supports Polish schools abroad. The program aims to promote the Polish language and culture among the Polish diaspora and foreigners interested in Polish culture.

In addition to formal education, there are several initiatives to promote the Polish language through cultural exchanges, scholarships, and online platforms. The „Polish Community” program, for example, supports projects that promote the Polish language and culture among the Polish diaspora and Poles abroad. 

The Polish language is also promoted through cultural institutions such as the Polish Institute, which organizes cultural events and Polish language courses in various countries. The Adam Mickiewicz Institute, under its flagship brand „Culture.pl,” provides daily fresh information on the most exciting Polish culture events worldwide.

Moreover, the teaching of the Polish language abroad is not limited to the Polish diaspora. Many universities worldwide offer Polish language courses to students interested in Polish history, culture, and society. These courses often provide opportunities for students to study in Poland, further promoting cultural exchange.

The promotion of the Polish language abroad is a testament to the global recognition of Poland’s rich cultural heritage and the importance of maintaining linguistic diversity in our increasingly globalized world. The continued efforts to teach and promote the Polish language abroad not only preserve the language but also strengthen the cultural ties between Poland and the rest of the world.

Questions to Consider:

1. How can the teaching and promotion of the Polish language abroad contribute to the preservation of Polish culture?

2. What strategies can be employed to promote the learning of the Polish language in countries with significant Polish-speaking populations?

3. How does the spread of the Polish language influence Poland’s cultural and diplomatic relations with other countries?