Information on Poland and the Polish Language


Information on Poland and the Polish Language

Achievement & Equality Team

Information on Poland and the Polish language

Poland has not yet succumbed/As long as we remain/What the foe by force has seized/Sword in hand we’ll gain

National Anthem of Poland


Location – East Europe

Neighbours – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Kalingrad Oblast (Russian enclave)

Size – 120,728

Population – 38,115,641 (34th)

Life Expectancy – Male / Female 71/78

Capital city – Warsaw

Potted History

At the heart of Europe, Poland came into being in the 10th century. A brief period of independence was curtailed by the invasion of Nazi Germany in 1939. The People’s Republic of Poland emerged after the second world war within the Eastern Bloc, under strong Soviet influence. After the collapse of communism in 1989, Poland became a unitary state known as the Third Polish Republic.

Political pressure points

Poland joined Nato in 1999 and the EU in 2004. The country has uneasy relations with Russia following its break from the Communist Bloc.

Population mix

Ethnic Polish 97%, other (including Belarusian, Ukrainian, Jewish, Greek, Macedonian, Russian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Czech, Roma, German) 3%

Religious makeup

Catholic 96%, Orthodox Christian 2%, approx 3% atheist

Main languages

Polish (official) German

Living national icons

Wislawa Szymborska (author), Andrzej Wajida (film director), Jerzy Stuhr (actor), Łukasz Fabianski (footballer), Leszek Blanik (gymnast), Robert Kubica (formula one driver)


The Nottinghamshire Context

Nottinghamshire has a well-established Polish community which settled in the area following the Second World War. In addition to a sizeable community in Nottingham which has an established supplementary school and community centre, areas such as Mansfield and Newark have long seen Poles make up part of the local population.

Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia became part of the EU in 2004. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007. This has enabled residents from these countries to have freedom of movement and the ability to work anywhere in the EU. This has meant increased migration to the UK for economic reasons. Migrants from these countries may work in low paid unskilled jobs, although be highly skilled in particular industries back in their home country. Some jobs may also involve shift work which can impact on family life and ability for parents to attend meetings.

Polish Roma

Some of the pupils in Nottinghamshire may be Roma but many families may be reluctant to disclose this.

Poland has a Roma population of about 55,000, almost all of whom are settled. Roma in Poland are from several different cultural and linguistic groups including Polish Kalderash and Lowland and Highland Roma. Some Polish Roma, particularly from rural areas, speak Romani as their first language, although many families now speak Polish. Literate Roma parents use Polish as their first written language. Some Roma girls are discouraged from attending school after reaching puberty. Polish Roma girls often marry at a young age, sometimes under the age of 16. Child protection teams, healthcare providers, and school staff with responsibilities for safeguarding young people, need to be mindful of this.

Education in Poland

The Polish educational system consists of elementary (primary) schools, middle schools, secondary schools (general grammar schools, technical grammar schools and vocational schools), universities and other institutions of higher education. Tuition in the state schools is free and mandatory until the age of 18.

  • Following the reform, pupils begin their education at the age of 6/7 in ‘Form 0’, where they acquire preliminary skills for reading and writing, and learn simple mathematical concepts and operations.
  • They continue their education at primary school (szkola podstawawowa). This 6-year period of school ends with a test; the purpose of which is to provide information on how much pupils have learned.
  • Next, pupils move on to a middle school (gimnazjum). The 3-year period at middle school concludes with an examination divided into a humanities paper, a mathematical and a natural sciences paper.
  • Secondary schools are selected on the basis of the results of this examination.
  • Students choose from 3-year general education grammar schools (lyceum), 4-year technical grammar schools (technikum), or 2-3 year vocational schools (szkola zasadnicza).
  • Education at a vocational school concludes with a professional examination of an external type (i.e. it is graded by an independent external examiners’ board)
  • Generally class sizes are small in comparison to the UK, with approximately 15 pupils in a class.
  • Classes are well-disciplined and corporal punishment may still be used.
  • Pupils’ experiences of learning English vary greatly. Some pupils learn German as their second language.

Information about the Polish language

Polish is spoken by almost all of the 35 million inhabitants of Poland, by about 700,000 people in the United States, and by smaller groups in Lithuania, Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, and other countries. It is one of the Slavic languages and thus part of the Indo-European family.

Polish is written in the Roman alphabet, with q,v and x missing, and with j pronounced y, w pronounced v, and c pronounced ts.

However, there are a bewildering number of diacritical marks, including accents, dots, hooks, and, in the case of the l, a bar(ł). The letter ć is a soft ch (e.g., ćwierć- quarter); ś is a soft sh (śnieg – snow); ść is a soft shch (iść - to go); dź is pronounced like the English j (niedźwiedź - bear); ń is pronounced ny as in ‘’canyon’’ (jesień – autumn); ó is pronounced oo (góra – mountain). The letter ż is a hard zh (żona – wife), the letter ą and ę are nasal vowels (sąsiad – neighbour, pięć - five), and the barred ł is pronounced approximately like a w (głowa – head). Ch is pronounced as in German, but sz = sh (szkoła – school), cz = ch (czysty – clean), szcz = shch (szczotka – brush), and rz = zh (grzmot – thunder).

The stress in Polish is always on the next to last syllable.

Polish vocabulary naturally resembles that of the other Slavic languages. Such Polish words as bez (without), most (bridge), cena (price), and zima (winter) are identical in Russian, Czech, Bulgarian, and Serbo-Croatian. But ‘’peace,’’ which is mir in Russian and mir in Czech, in Polish is pokój, while ‘’island’’ (ostrov in Russian and Czech) in Polish is wyspa. The Polish words for ‘’north,’’ ‘’south,’’ ‘’east,’’ and ‘’west’’ are respectively północ (which also means ‘’midnight’’), południe (noon), wschód (rising), and zachód (setting).

Here is an example of a piece of Polish literature


Mateusz się porwał w ten mig do niego, ale nim mógł zmiarkować co bądź, już Antek skoczył jak ten wilk wściekły, chycił go jedną ręką za orzydle, przydusił aż tamten dech i głos stracił, drugą ujął za pas, wyrwał z miejsca jak kierz, nogą drwi wywalił na dwór, i poniósł go prędko za tartak, do rzeki ogrodzonej plotem i cisnął z calej mocy, aż cztery żerdki trzasły kiej słomki, a Mateusz niby kloc ciężki padł we wodę.

Mathew sprang instantly at him, but before he knew what happened Antek pounced upon him like a crazed wolf. With one hand he clutched his collar, stifling both his breath and voice, with the other he grabbed his belt and tore him from his place as one roots out a bush. He kicked open the door, rushed with him beyond the sawmill to the river fence, and hurled him with such fury against the fence that four of the posts snapped like straws, and Matthew fell into the water like a heavy log.


Władysław Reymont, the Polish novelist and short-story writer, was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924.

Words and Phrases



HelloDzień dobryD-jen dobry

How are you?Jak sie maszYak shy mash


Well done!!Bardzo dobrzeBarto-dobsha


Do it againZrób to jeszcze razZrub to yeshta ras

Say it again, repeatPowtórzPoff-tush



What is that?Co to jestSo to yest





HomeworkZadanie domoweZadan-ye Domove

Complete for HomeDokończ na zadanie Do-konch na zdan-ye


Do you understand?RozumieszRozu-mish

Can I help youCzym mogę służyćChim mogey surig



Write PiszPish




Pen DługopisDugo-pish


Exercise BookZeszytZe-shyt

Text BookKsiąszkaKershonshka


English / Polish / Correct/easy pronunciation
Red / Czerwony / Ch-ier-voni
Yellow / Żółty / Zu-ti
Blue / Niebieski / Nie –b-ye-ski
Green / Zielony / Zie-loni
Purple / Purpur / Purpur
Orange / Pomarańczowy / Pom-aran-chowy
Grey / Siwy / Shi – vi
White / Biały / b-ya-wi
Silver / Srebrny / S-reb-ni
Gold / Złoty / Zwo-ty
Black / Czarny / Char-ni
One / Jeden / Ye-den
Two / Dwa / Dva
Three / Trzy / Chi
Four / Cztery / Ch-teri
Five / Pięć / p-ye-ch
Six / Sześć / Sh-e-sh-ch
Seven / Siedem / Sh-e-dem
Eight / Osiem / O-sh-em
Nine / Dziewięć / d-ye-vien-ch
Ten / Dziesięć / d-ye-sh-ech
Eleven / Jedenaście / Je-den-ash-che
Twelve / Dwanaście / Dva-nash-che
Thirteen / Trzynaście / Chy-nash-che
Fourteen / Czternaście / Ch-ter-nash-che
Fifteen / Piętnaście / P-ye-t-nash-che
Sixteen / Szesnaście / Sh-e-sh-nash-che
Seventeen / Siedemnaście / Sh-edem-nash-che
Eighteen / Osiemnaście / O-sh-em-nash-che
Nineteen / Dziewiętnaście / D-ye-vet-nash-che
Twenty / Dwadzieścia / Dva-d-jay-sh-cha
Thirty / Trzydzieści / Chi-d-jay-sh-chi
Forty / Czterdzieści / Ch-ter-d-jay-sh-chi
Fifty / Pięćdziesiąt / P-je-d-jay-sh-ont
Sixty / Sześćdziesiąt / Sh-esh-d-jay-sh-ont
Seventy / Siedemdziesiąt / Sh-edem-d-jay-sh-ont
Eighty / Osiemdziesiąt / O-sh-em-d-jay-sh-ont
Ninety / Dziewięćdziesiąt / D-yeven-d-jay-sh-ont
One hundred / Sto / Sto
Maths / Matematyka / Ma-te-ma-ti-ka
English / Język Angielski / Yen-zyk An-gel-ski
French / Język Francuski / Yen-zyk Fran-cu-ski
Polish / Język Polski / Yen-zyk Polski
Chemistry / Chemia / Hem-ya
Biology / Biologia / Bio-log-ya
Physics / Fizyka / Fiz-ik-a
P.E. / W.F / Vu F
Geography / Geografia / Geo-graph-ya
History / Historia / Hist-ori-ya
Music / Muzyka / Muzyk-a
Religious Education / Religia / Reli-g-ya
Monday / Poniedziałek / Pon-ni-d-ya-wek
Tuesday / Wtorek / V-tor-ek
Wednesday / Środa / Sh-rod-a
Thursday / Czwartek / Ch-war-tek
Friday / Piątek / P-i-otek
Saturday / Sobota / So-bo-ta
Sunday / Niedziela / Ne-d-ye-la

Useful guidance is available from:

New Arrivals Excellence Programme Guidance

(2007) Ref 00650 – 2007BKT- EN

This resource is for primary and secondary schools and contains guidance on admission and developing classroom practice.

A language in common: assessing English as an additional language

QCA (2000) (QCA/00/584).

This document sets out steps used in assessment of EAL, linked to English National Curriculum levels. It provides guidance and exemplifications.

Aiming High: guidance on supporting the education of asylum seeking and refugee children (DfES 0287 – 2004)

This guidance helps explain the value of an inclusive ethos and curriculum to all pupils.

Aiming High: meeting the needs of newly arrived learners of EAL

(DfES 1381 -2005)

Information on working with newly arrived isolated EAL pupils in settings that have little or no access to EAL support.

Excellence and enjoyment: learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years (DfES 0013 – 2006PCK- EN)

Key Stage 3 National Strategy: Access and engagement in English:teaching pupils for whom English is an additional language (DfES 0609 – 2002)

Publications/Catalogues are available from:

MUNDI Tel: 0115 8546418


Global Education Centre

Foxhall Lodge

Foxhall Road



(under construction/Aug 2010)

Mundi loan resources to schools in Nottinghamshire free for up to half a term e-mail:

GRANT AND CUTLER Tel: 0207 734 2012

55-57 Great Marlborough Street,


A one-stop shop for foreign language resources including language-learning material, reference books, technical dictionaries, literature, history, politics etc.

MILET PUBLISHING Tel: 0207 603 5477
6 North End Parade
London W14 0SJ


Milet publishers a wide range of bilingual picture dictionaries, including board books for use in early years settings.

TRENTHAM BOOKS LTD Tel: 01782 745567

Westview House,734 London Road,
Stoke on Trent,
UKST4 5NP Web:

Trentham publishes 'a wide range of titles plus seven professional journals, mainly in the field of education and social policy.

MANTRA LINGUA Tel: 0208 44 55 123

Global House

303 Ballards Lane

N12 8NP


Mantra Lingua creative learning resources Audio CDs, Big Books, e-books, fun tales, folk tales, friezes, games, language learning, packs posters, story props, toys videos and so on.

Classroom Resources are available from:

Interactive video clips showing children teaching their home languages

Website written by a Nottinghamshire teacher containing translated admissions booklets for parents and schools as well as a variety of resources and key recorded phrases recorded in Polish

The following website translates words, phrases and short paragraphs from English to Polish available at;

The Dingle Granby Toxteth Education Action Zone website; Useful letters for parents translated into Polish available at:

DLTK's Crafts for Kids features a variety images that can be used for creating pupils own subject-specific dictionaries

Activities for ESL Students can be adapted for EAL pupils in primary and secondary schools. Has bilingual quizzes in large number of languages, available at

Omniglot writing systems and languages of the world available at

EMA Online resource base for teachers has been developed by Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester LAs with funding from the DfES, available at;

Racist bullying. Advice designed for schools to dip in and out as appropriate for them and offers discussion topics and activities to stimulate debate and spark activity involving everyone in the school community, available at;

Teachernet states that a successful home–school relationship can be a key element in making a school stronger and more effective. In particular, it can make a real difference to groups of underachieving pupils and their families, available at;

Nottinghamshire Achievement & Equality Team