Project developed during Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 Semesters

Addressing Diversity, Intersectionality, and Social Justice in the Polish-Language Classroom

by Christopher Caes


Polish language textbooks are marked by an extraordinary lack of diversity with respect to race and sexual orientation. Character arcs, physical descriptions, and vocabulary in everyday context are based nearly exclusively in the world of heterosexual White Europeans/Anglo-Americans, and rare instances in which textbooks do broach racial and sexual diversity are limited to ironizing stereotypes held by Poland’s majority white population. Remarkably, not a single Polish language textbook offers any instruction on preferred terms or self-appellations of Polish-speaking people of color. This means that students of color as well as sexual and gender minority students in the Polish language classroom simply do not see themselves in the materials designed to help them learn the language. Conversely, heterosexual and White students studying the language do not gain the skills needed to interact normally and respectfully in Polish with their non-White and non-gender-conforming peers. It is our intent, with the support of an LRC Instructional Innovation Exploratory Grant, to begin to change this situation. My project assistant and I envision three paths of initial research: a review and summary of the state of diversity in currently available Polish textbooks; collation and elucidation, based on online study, of the preferred, evolving, and still open terms of self-description and pronominal address employed by Polish-speaking racial, sexual, and gender minorities; and, finally, the development of a series of stand-alone and supplementary pilot materials and resources addressing and enabling socially conscious linguistic inclusivity in the Polish language classroom.


[ project presentation ]

Polish LGBTQ