Does a foreigner living in Poland need to speak Polish fluently?
There is no single answer to that question, as everything depends on the individual situation. You should bear in mind, however, that pursuant to the Polish Language Act, Polish is the only official language of the Republic of Poland and consequently – the only working language of constitutional bodies, administration and institutions performing public duties. What is more, many Poles do not speak foreign languages proficiently enough to ensure unhindered communication. If you intend to stay longer in Poland, not speaking the language can prove to be inconvenient. The knowledge of the language will increase your chances on the labour market and will make it easier to establish relationships. Briefly speaking, there is no official obligation to learn, but it is definitely worthwhile to master the rudiments.
Learning the language and the mindset behind it constitutes a key element of foreigners’ integration. The official definition, adopted in the document entitled “Polish policy of foreigners’ integration – assumptions and guidelines”, describes the integration of foreigners in the following way:
Integration is a complex and dynamic bilateral process, which involves the foreign nationals and the host society. The goal is to ensure full and equal participation of foreigners in the society of the host state. Integration should lead up to a situation in which the foreigner can function in Poland in an autonomous way, including the labour market, making him or her independent from social welfare and support.
The full and equal participation implies the knowledge of the language, which the Polish state considers to constitute national heritage legally protected pursuant to the Polish Language Act. Unfortunately, so far there is no coherent, standardized and nationally coordinated system of language courses for migrants. It means that the task of choosing the right course falls to the person concerned. Luckily, the course offer is developing in a dynamic way and practically every foreigner will be able to find a solution best suited to his or her needs. In this article, we want to give you an overview of the available learning offer and the possibilities of obtaining a certificate of language proficiency.