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Polish Britain: Multilingualism and Diaspora Community


Friday, 9 February 2018, 9:15am – 6:30pm

William Mong Hall, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.


A one-day international conference on the subject of multilingualism among Polish communities in the United Kingdom and in broader contexts. The conference will take place as part of Cambridge’s ‘Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies’ (MEITS) research project under the AHRC Open World Research Initiative.

Please click here to reserve a free ticket.


Polish is now the second most commonly spoken language, after English, in England and Wales. Over a million Poles live in the United Kingdom, and the vast majority of them are multilingual and live in multilingual environments. In this conference, we aim to present a broad view of multilingualism in a range of different contexts connected with Poles, Polish communities, and the Polish language in Britain. We will put a diverse set of different approaches into dialogue, including perspectives from applied and theoretical linguistics, psychology, literary studies, language teaching, education, and community activism.


We will connect the question of multilingualism with broader issues of migration and multicultural society. Papers will examine multilingualism among Poles, but also the phenomena of non-Poles learning Polish and of multilingualism among Ukrainian migrants in Poland.


The conference will be convened by Stanley Bill, Lecturer in Polish Studies at Cambridge, and Edyta Nowosielska, Lector in Polish at Cambridge.

Speakers will include distinguished specialists from a wide variety of fields and institutional backgrounds:

Thomas Bak, University of Edinburgh

Michael Byram, Durham University

Jan Fellerer, University of Oxford

Elwira Grossman, University of Glasgow

Myroslava Keryk, Fundacja ‘Nasz Wybór’, Warsaw

Kinga Kozminska, Birkbeck, University of London

Jakub Krupa, Polish Press Agency, London

Elżbieta Kwiatkowska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw

Anna Martowicz, Association for the Promotion of Polish Language Abroad

Yaron Matras, University of Manchester

Lisa-Maria Müller, University of Cambridge

Anna Seretny, Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Zofia Wodniecka-Chlipalska, Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Katarzyna Zechenter, University College London


Guests are very welcome to attend the entire day or just selected sessions. We will provide coffee and tea for all attendees during the coffee breaks. Attendees should make their own arrangements for lunch. We warmly invite all attendees to a wine reception at the conclusion of the conference. Please reserve a free ticket here.

A full conference programme will be available on this page shortly. 


09:15am:                     Welcome and Introduction

09:30am:                     FIRST PANEL

11:00am:                     Coffee

11:30am:                     SECOND PANEL

1:00pm:                       Lunch

2:00pm:                       THIRD PANEL

3:30pm:                       Coffee

4:00pm:                       FOURTH PANEL

5:30pm:                       CONCLUDING PANEL DISCUSSION.

6:30pm:                       Finish and Wine Reception


MEITS is a major interdisciplinary research project funded under the AHRC Open World Research Initiative. Linguistic competence in more than one language – being multilingual – sits at the heart of the study of modern languages and literatures, distinguishing it from cognate disciplines. Through six interlocking research strands we investigate how the insights gained from stepping outside a single language, culture and mode of thought are vital to individuals and societies.


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