Polish Language Blog

Learning Polish in Poland Posted by on Apr 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

In today’s post Adam presents a few options for Polish courses in Poland.

When you’ve been through Transparent lessons, and you think you know your declensions, conjugations, numerals and spelling – you might want to take your Polish to the next level. Why not test it on living, breathing organisms such as Poles in their natural habitat? There are many, many “Polish for foreigners” classes in Poland. Which should you chose and why?

I highly recommend summer courses organized by leading Polish universities – there’s a high likelihood of getting a good language base, together with an entertaining and informative cultural program. Here is a list of options for you. One thing to know is that Polish universities LOVE bureaucracy and papers. If you prefer a more customer-friendly approach, I’ve found a cool school at the seaside.

My biggest worry is that you might be given an outdated and “folklore” picture of what Poland and Polish people are. I think that in order to get a balanced view – it would be a good idea to choose one of major Polish cities: Warszawa, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Kraków, Poznań, or a bit smaller but thriving Toruń. These cities are filled with beautiful sights, offer pleasant atmosphere during the summer, and quite a lot to do after classes.

Warsaw is obviously the capital of Poland, and Poland’s largest city. Its architecture is not to everyone’s liking, as it is a sort of mix between a European city with historical parts, and American city with ugly inner city streets, huge adverts everywhere and cars as far as the eye can see. It’s also not the cleanest place, however it’s changing and improving very fast, and the changes there are more visible than elsewhere in the country. There’s plenty going on both in the mainstream culture, as well as in alternative circles. It is also the place where Poland’s Eastern and Western (or A and B) elements mix, and it’s visible.

Where to learn Polish in Warsaw?
Warsaw University runs its Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners.
The centre offers a summer course with language classes, workshops and “audiovisual shows”: in English for beginners. Intermediate learners can attend lectures on culture and history of Poland held in the Polish language, text-analysis workshops, and audiovisual workshops focusing on crucial events and phenomena of current popular culture of Poland.
More advanced learners attend culture and literature workshops and academic lectures.
1 month costs 2000zł (excl. accommodation, however university dorms are available at low prices – but with low standard.)

Kraków is considered one of the most beautiful Polish cities. It was Poland’s capital through the middle ages and renaissance, and its architecture reflects that. There are stunning sights to see – including the Wawel Castle (seat of Polish kings, among them a woman – Jadwiga – crowned “the king of Poland”), the city center, former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz and a social realist neighborhood of Nowa Huta. Also nearby there are other popular places to visit – the amazing Wieliczka salt mine, and the sad monument of how low human beings can reach: the Auschwitz concentration camp. Kraków also offers a very vibrant club scene and multitudes of events.
Jagiellonian University offers summer Polish courses at its School of Polish Language.
1 month costs 5855zł (incl. accommodation and boarding)
There’s also a summer language camp for kids (14-17 years old).

Wrocław is the capital of Lower Silesia, a region that has a very rich history. It’s been part of several nations: Polish, Czech and German. Before WW2 it used to belong to Germany and was mostly populated by German people who fled the city when it was to become part of Poland. It was then populated by Poles from Lwów, a city that after the war was to become part of the Soviet Union (today Ukraine). Professors of the University of Lwów have also moved here to continue the University of Wrocław, which now also organizes summer classes in Polish.

Wrocław, as most Polish cities, apart from Warsaw, has a very pleasant medieval city center, which in the summer is filled with open-air cafes and pubs.

Toruń is one of the two capitals of the Kujawy-Pomorze region. It is a medium size city, in which university and student life play a prominent role. Despite its size, there is quite a lot going on, and Toruń has one of the most beautiful Old Towns in Poland. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its medieval charm and architecture. Toruń was thankfully spared from the war damage. Constant renovations in this area assure that it will be even more stunning when you visit. Apart from its medieval history, the city is famous as the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (his house is open for viewing) and for gingerbread cookies which have been produced here according to secret recipes for centuries. There are many things to do: there’s a planetarium, an ethnographic museum in the center where a 19th century Polish village was recreated, there’s also a vibrant art and club scene.
Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń offers summer Polish courses.

2 or 3 week courses range from 250 to 790 euro depending on options.

Gdańsk, together with neighboring Sopot and Gdynia form one metropolitan organism called Trójmiasto, with an easy transport network thanks to Fast Urban Rail (SKM). An important center for trade – sending goods shipped by the Wisła river further to the world. Positioned at the seaside, the city has been disputed between the Poles and the Germans ever since the Polish prince Konrad I of Masovia and Kraków in the year 1226 invited the German Teutonic Order to settle in Prussia to protect his principality from Lithuanian and Prussian pagans. Gdańsk is also the place where WW2 began, and where communism fell. It’s a delight for anyone interested in history. But it’s also a heaven for those who prefer sandy beaches as the resort of Sopot has for many decades served as the summer capital of Poland. It’s also a place where attitudes have always been more relaxed and open. Gdynia, developed during the interwar period as a port city alternative to Gdańsk (then under the League of Nations protectorate), has many wonderful examples of modernist architecture. Less crowded beaches, and clearer sea, may be found beyond the Hel peninsula (Władysławowo, Jastrzębia Góra), around 1 hour by train.

Akademia Języka Polskiego, a private company, offers classes in the Wrzeszcz district of Gdańsk (between the historical center and Sopot) and will tailor its offer to suit customers‘ needs.

Anna’s comment: if you know of any other courses, or can recommend a particular school or program, please tell us in the comments section.

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  1. David Piekarczyk:

    I have to disagree with you about Polish for Foreigners courses at Universities. My wife and I did such a course the first year here and found it more frustrating than beneficial. First of all it was taught by a graduate student who only spoke in Polish. If you don’t know Polish how can you be expected to understand what the teacher is saying, especially when it comes to grammar? Second, the some classes were conducted also by students who were practicing to become teachers and our class was the guinea pig. We started out with twelve students and by the end of the third week there were only 5 of us left. Finally, in the second semester, the teacher got our point and started using English to explain things. For us, we would have been better off to use a private teacher.

  2. Sofia:

    I have to disagree with David about learning Polish in Polish. I started with zero knowledge in Polish (ok, I could say a couple of phrases but that was it) and all the teaching has always been in Polish with very, very little other languages being used. This includes all grammar as well. I think this is the most beneficial way to do it for everybody. The teacher gets to explain things in their native language and the students get to hear Polish a lot more than they would otherwise. If the teacher only speaks Polish from day one, the grammar and other things already sound familiar before you officially learn them. And that is a great advantage.

    As for language courses in Poland, the University of Katowice organizes a course in Cieszyn, a charming little town.

  3. Brigitte:

    Hello, Last year october I attended a language school in Warsaw, called IKO, Instytut Kształcenia Obcokrajowców (The Inst. of Polish for Foreigners). It’s located at Ul. M. Kopernika. Maybe it was due to the teacher, Monika, but it was really great experience. Real Good lessons!
    I surely can recommend it. Greetings, Brigitte, – Holland.

  4. Jan Prygoda:

    Everybody is also welcome to join the PolishLanguageStudyGroup at yahoogroups.com, an e-mail group with over 500 members.

  5. Kel:

    I studied at Prolog in Krakow last summer – it was fantastic. Great teachers and great excursions. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  6. Melissa:

    I am currently studying Polish language at the
    Jagiellonian University in Krakow. So far the “style” of teaching seems totally based on the teacher’s preference. The first class I went to was entirely in Polish and used a difference text than the magority of the other classes, The class that I am in currently uses English to clarify grammar and it very fast paced. The best part about this program is that there are numerous teachers for each level, so if you find that the teaching style does not suit, you can easily change instructors.

  7. Greg:

    http://www.polski-dla-obcokrajowcow-torun.pl, great teacher in Torun, funny and smart! Private lessons.

  8. Ernesto Gonzales:

    Hi there,

    That is true, University lessons are not as good as private. Universty teachers I’ve met were not as engaged as on private lessons.
    I can recommend Polish lessons in Wrocław in Polish World. We’ve been there for three weeks and really enjoyed our stay and course.
    Lessons are in the city centre we’ve been discovering city and practicing our Polish every day after the course. Try http://www.polish-world.pl/en !

  9. Anna:

    I would also add Prolog School of Polish to the list (www.polishcourses.com) – I studied there for two months of superintensive and I had benefited a lot. The school is in perfect location, with a spacy, modern building, and all of the teachers have amazing academic qualifications. I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone wanting to learn this beautiful (yet hard) language.

  10. Andrea:

    I just finished my course at a tiny school of Polish near Gdansk http://www.learn-polish.pl The school is located in a typical small town not far from the Baltic Sea. I was very happy to experience real Poland in a small town.