Lead with Polish
Why Learn Polish?
Because about nine million Americans reported Polish ancestry in 2017 according to the Census Bureau, and there is a good chance that you, too, belong to this group, even without knowing it! Polish-Americans are the largest Slavic ethnic group in the United States, the second-largest Central European group, and the eighth-largest immigrant group overall. There are over 55 million Polish language speakers around the world.
Polish is a Gateway to Other Slavic Languages
When you learn Polish, you get another Slavic language for free (well, almost free…). A Polish speaker can communicate with Czechs, Slovaks, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Russians. Learning Polish does not require the study of a new alphabet because it uses Latin letters with only nine additional characters.
Because Polish is a less commonly taught language, it may be more likely for you to study in smaller classes and receive a lot of individualized feedback from your instructor. Also, you will be eligible for multiple funding opportunities to finance your studies, which will be more readily available to you because of the smaller competition.
Poland is a Partner on the World Stage
Since Poland became a member of NATO in 1999, and a member of the EU in 2004, it has become one of the most attractive markets for foreign investors. For example, it was the first former Soviet bloc country to enter the Financial Times and Stock Exchange (FTSE) list of “developed economies”—one of the best indicators of country’s economic success. The country is ranked the third-best place in which to invest, according to World Bank’s forecast for 2018, and the first place in Europe in terms of the number of jobs created as a result of direct foreign investment, according to the fDi Intelligence: Global Greenfield Investment Trends report.
Many American companies are active today in Poland. The American Chamber of Commerce in Poland has registered over 300 companies, including 80 from the Fortune 500 list. Sixteen of those companies have close to 50,000 workers employed across Poland.
U.S.-Poland trade relations are one of the fastest growing in the world. Polish exports to the United States include road vehicles and automotive parts, furniture, meat, silver, medical and control equipment, electrical cables, plastics, and many other goods. Currently Polish capital is involved in about 70 entities operating in the United States, and that number does not include businesses owned by U.S. citizens of Polish origin. Polish investors represent various industries, ranging from mining, to chemistry, to cosmetics and even film. In addition, a large group of small businesses and startups from the IT industry and the new technologies sector operate in the U.S.
Even though English is the language of business, proficiency in Polish helps to develop closer personal and professional relations, while cultural competency acquired through language learning helps to bridge cultural differences.
Poland Offers Top-Notch, High-Quality Education
Studying in Poland can be a great experience, not only because you will have a chance to receive an excellent but also because you will have an opportunity to obtain a diploma from a prestigious university while partaking in the richness of the Polish culture.
Over 400 universities in Poland host almost 60,000 first-time international students every year. The Polish higher education system is rooted in centuries-long tradition and has adapted to our modern times.
The Bologna three-stage education system provides a high-quality of education for everyone, and the cost of studying and living in Poland is surprisingly affordable. Poland is the home of some oldest universities in the region—Jagiellonian University was founded in 1364! Six Polish universities were included in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, with Medicine and European Studies particularly popular among international students.
Poland Spotlights East and West at Their Best
All roads lead through Poland, whether you travel from North to South, or from West to East. The permeation of cultural influences has always been an inherent feature of Polish culture: from charming old towns, to medieval architecture, magnificent churches, monumental castles, royal palaces, and eccentric mansions, all representing different periods and styles.
Poland’s cutting-edge, interactive museums present history in a way that wows all who enter with innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions recognized around the world. According to LonelyPlanet.com, Poland is among the best value destinations in the world in 2018.
Europe’s ninth largest country, it’s also a beautiful destination with natural attractions from mountains to sandy beaches (including twenty-three national parks, among them a primeval forest), and a rich culinary reputation that draws visitors to sample endless varieties of pierogi!
And if these reasons weren’t enough…
One of the Best Video Games was Designed in Poland
…and its Polish version is even better than the English one! The Witcher was included in the video game reference book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die and is presently ranked as the fifth best-selling Playstation video game ever produced. Play it in Polish!
Meet Kevin – Dean of Resident Students at a Michigan preparatory school who dedicated a year to studying Polish at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
In his words:
The biggest reason for me on why I chose to learn Polish was to connect with my ancestral roots. For me it was such a rewarding experience to be able to communicate in a foreign country using Poles’ native language and not force people to try and speak English. You really gain an appreciation for other people that have had to learn English as a second or third language.
I don’t think many people realize the richness of Poland’s history, from the start of WWII, the solidarity movement which ended communism, and the horrors of the Holocaust, Poland was front and center to so much, not too many countries can offer what Poland has in terms of history.
I think all visitors to Poland should experience the old towns of Krakow and Gdańsk, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Wieliczka Salt Mines, and the mighty Malbork Castle.
“Living in Poland for a year was the best experience of my life.”
Studying Polish at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow was the most challenging and rewarding thing I ever could have done. Poland is an amazing country that I would recommend to anybody that loves to travel. The country has it all!
Be sure to speak with your school counselor or advisor, and also to search for opportunities local to your state or region, including specific universities of interest. In addition to federal and other awards available for Polish language studies or experiences abroad, nationally available scholarships include:
ACPC grants multiple scholarship awards and competition prizes for Polish studies, as well as lists awards offered by affiliated organizations.
The Foundation offers graduate, undergraduate, exchange, and summer study scholarships, including those for Americans of Polish descent.
PNA offers funding to qualified members of the Alliance who are college sophomores, juniors, or seniors.
Polish language teacher associations, like NAATPL, are a great place to seek information about university programs and job listings.
NAWA offers a wealth of information on study abroad in Poland, including scholarship opportunities, summer language courses, and a “Study Finder” search tool to locate the right academic program for you!
This digital resource on language and culture is a Joint project of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jagiellonian University.
This video explores the creation of Polish school programs in New York City.
Polish Programs in the Spotlight
Interested in kick-starting your Polish adventure at home or abroad? These are just a few of the many immersion experiences available to you at the university level! Check out:
- University of Pittsburgh Summer Language Institute (U.S.-based, also available abroad)
- The Sopot School of Polish for Foreigners
- Jagiellonian University
- John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
- The Polish Language and Culture Centre for Polish People from Abroad and Foreigners (UMCS)
- School of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners
- List of programs curated by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) (U.S. & international)
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