MEITS Conference: ‘Polish Britain: Multilingualism and Diaspora Community’

A one-day international conference provided scholars and practitioners with the opportunity to present research findings and to share their experiences of Polish communities worldwide and multilingualism in Poland. It was convened by Stanley Bill, Lecturer in Polish Studies, and Edyta Nowosielska, Lector in Polish, both from the University of Cambridge. The event took place at Sydney Sussex College on 9 February 2018 and was very well-attended. After some introductory words from the conference convenors, the attendees were welcomed by Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Principal Investigator of MEITS.

The conference comprised of four panel and a final discussion. The first panel focused on learning Polish in multilingual settings, its analysis as a heritage language, and it place on the linguistic map of the city of Manchester with presentations by Elwira Grossman, University of Glasgow, Anna Seretny, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and Yaron Matras, University of Manchester. The second panel considered cognitive effects of bilingualism with Thomas Bak, University of Edinburgh, Zofia Wodniecka, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and Lisa-Maria Müller, University of Cambridge, presenting their research findings.

The third panel considered bilingual practices within a wide geographical scope – from a comparative study of Polish-English bilingualism in the UK and the US by Katarzyna Zechenter, University College London, to the analysis of language practices of Ukrainians and Belarusians in Poland by Myroslava Keryk, ‘Our Choice’ Foundation in Warsaw, and Elżbieta Kwiatkowska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. The final panel consisted of another three presentations of research findings on how language practices and identities are changing within the diasporic context by Kinga Kozminska, Birkbeck, University of London, Anna Martowicz, Association for the Promotion of Polish Language Abroad, and Jan Fellerer, University of Oxford. A full conference programme can be accessed via this link:

Current challenges and future opportunities for the development of the Polish language and its role in the multilingual world were discussed during the final part of the conference by Jakub Krupa, Polish Press Agency in London, Krystyna Olliffe, Polish Educational Society, and Anne White, University College London.

More than one hundred people attended the conference, providing very positive feedback with one of the attendees stressing that the conference ‘has broadened my understanding of multilingualism’ and that ‘there is a crying need for sharing awareness about the benefits of multilingualism in the public eye and with policymakers’.

The series of the MEITS international conferences continues with the ‘Global Approaches to Multilingualism and Standardisation’ conference on 16 April 2018. More information can be found here

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