Multilingualism in Europe Poland

Multilingualism in Europe: Language Learning in Poland

The number of people learning foreign languages in Poland has increased in recent years, especially since joining the European Union in 2004. Many young people have taken the opportunity, myself included, of studying or working abroad.

The European student exchange, along with freedom of work and travel around Europe opened up the door for a better future for many people. I often say I have grown up together with Poland. I remember those days when I would dream of traveling all round the world and speaking as many languages as I could possible learn. Back In late nineties the English language wasn’t as in demand as it is now. I started to learn it at age 12, but it was rather a very passive learning, memorizing grammar rules and doing exercises. My parents decided to enroll me in a language course after school to get a chance of speaking with a native speaker. The idea of combining language courses with my interest in music helped me to become fluent in English.

There is constant criticism towards public schools and their poor language programs. As a result, parents are forced to enroll their children in after school classes. This has created a large and rapidly growing market for private language schools across Poland. However, freelance tutoring has become a competitive alternative due to its lower cost and more personalized approach.

Language Learning in Public school

Students start to learn their first foreign language beginning in the first year of Primary School, and it is continued through Middle School . At the start of Middle School students are required to choose a second foreign language to study. In High School each student learns two or even three languages.

According to a Report from the Center Development Education for school year 2011/2012 91.6 % of students were studying English, 38.9 % German, 3 % French and 5,1 % Russian at non-university public schools. The reports aims to provide an overall view on language learning in Poland in order to help teachers implement more successful language programs in schools.

Despite the demographic, there has been a significant rise in Spanish language students. Around 60 thousand students were studying in school year 2012/2013 compared to just 40 thousand in school year 2010/2011. On top of that, 12 universities offer Spanish Philology or Iberian Degree with around 13 thousand students total. Furthermore, the number of bilingual Polish-Spanish schools has more than doubled from 16 to 33 in past few years and with plans to open 5 additional in school year 2014/2015.

Further language education at University has a lot to offer: at University of Warsaw students can learn up to 40 languages, including English and German , or less popular choices such as Hungarian or Macedonian.

Private Language Learning

On the whole, in more developed regions in Poland people tend to be better at languages than those living in the countryside. In cities such as Warsaw, Cracow , Wroclaw or Gdansk knowing one language is not enough, young people invest time and money in brushing up on new languages. In addition, Tourism, travel, living, and working abroad are the main reasons why people invest in language learning.

English has become the main office language for many foreign companies in Poland. The booming in-company courses are on high demand where a language tutor can earn much more than teaching children or teenagers. There are many language schools in Warsaw, but choosing a good one can be a daunting process. Stationary language schools have traditionally been the main choice of learning foreign languages.

However, mobile schools have seen an increase demand for their services recently. Mobile schools utilize language tutors who are able to be flexible with hours and locations without having the financial burden of a permanent physical location. Although in its infancy, the network of mobile language schools continues to steadily grow.

Photo: Nico Trinkhaus – Krakow Photos

Lucja is the founder of, a professional language match-making service. She is a Polish and Spanish language trainer and has a keen interest in online education.