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Polish is a West Slavic language spoken by around 50 million people in Poland, parts of the countries which it borders, and the large worldwide diaspora which includes communities in the UK, the USA, South America, and Australia. It is one of the largest Slavic languages by number of speakers, second only to Russian, so it’s an excellent choice for anyone interested in Slavic culture. As one of the official languages of the European Union, it’s a key language on the continent, while its people have been instrumental contributors to Western scientific, technical, and cultural developments for centuries. The historically multi-ethnic nature of Poland and its geographical proximity to various key European empires has led to a rich vocabulary and a unique cultural heritage composed of various influences. One of the main reasons our students want to learn Polish is to find out more about this intriguing society and to be able to communicate directly with a people renowned for their hospitality, their resourcefulness, and their strength in the face of adversity. What’s more, Poland is the most linguistically homogeneous country in Europe, with 97% of the population speaking Polish as their first language. You’ll therefore get lots of opportunities for language practice when you study here!
Our Polish courses are offered in two of the country’s key cities: historic Kraków and chic, multicultural Warsaw. Both these locations offer exciting attractions, interesting cultural sites, and great transport links to the gorgeous Polish countryside. After your immersive lessons have finished, you’ll be able to experience the sights and sounds of these cities first-hand and put your newly developed language skills into practice. This will give you the best possible chance of success in your studies.
When you learn Polish with us, you’ll discover how Poland has been a hub of European culture for hundreds of years, thanks in part to its long tradition of educational excellence and of welcoming creatives from other countries. The Kraków school of Historicist art, for instance, is renowned the world over, while Poland itself is famed for its many musical sons and daughters, including Frédéric Chopin, Karol Lipiński, and Artur Rubenstein. Several of the country’s most influential writers have been awarded Nobel Prizes for Literature, while local philosophical movements have had a profound effect on Polish society, such as 19th-century Positivism, which encouraged widespread education and the improvement of civil rights and equality. Polish nationals have also made significant contributions to science; great names include double Nobel laureate Marie Curie, medieval scholars Nicolas Copernicus and Michael Sendivogius, cryptologist Marian Rejewski, and virologist Hilary Koprowski, inventor of the polio vaccine. You can find out about all these prominent figures and more in the museums of Warsaw and Kraków.
You’ll also learn about the unique customs and traditions of Poland when you study with us. As a largely Christian country, many of these are based around religious feast days, such as dressing up as the soot-blackened Siuda Baba on Easter Monday, adorning cemeteries with candles on Zaduszny (‘All Souls’ Day’), and the 12-dish Christmas Eve supper called Wigilia, where it is customary to lay an extra seat at the table in case an unexpected guest comes to call. Other traditions date back to far earlier Slavic rituals, like the winter kulig - a horse-drawn sled procession in the mountains - and Noc Kupałi (‘Kupali Night’, or St. John’s Eve), where flower wreaths lit with candles are sent downriver or paper lanterns are sent into the sky. The latter is immortalised in Kraków’s annual Wianki festival, which features live music, folk dances, and an incredible firework display. The Kurpie region, in the forested areas of Mazowsze, is around an hours’ drive from Warsaw and is home to one of Poland’s oldest ethnic groups. Here you’ll still find traditional wooden cabins with thatched roofs, musical groups dressed in colourful costumes, and regular crafts markets where local artisans sell their wares. To get a true insight into the multi-faceted nature of modern Poland, attend one of our Polish courses and see it all for yourself!
Don’t hesitate to contact us for further details of our language schools and the packages available.