Living Workroom of Polish Culture

The Living Workroom of Polish Culture opens its doors in the middle of October. Its activity will be two-fold. One of its elements will consist in regular Polish Language Workshops, during which the participants will be able to work on their Polish language skills. Additionally, as a part of the Living Workroom, there will take place open meetings discussing the subjects of Polish traditions or the phenomenon of bilingualism.

All meetings and workshops will take place in the lecture hall of the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London: 238-246 (the Polish Cultural and Social Association building), London W6 ORF.

Participation in all events and workshops is FREE OF CHARGE.

Polish language workshops:

During the regular meetings the participants will explore the secrets of their mother tongue. Above all, they will discuss issues in the field of language culture and theory of communication. Practical study of linguistic mistakes (the most frequent syntactic, phonetic, lexical errors) will be interspersed with learning the art of communication, body language analysis and learning the basic theoretical notions in the field of linguistics. During the course, the participants will deepen their linguistic awareness, they will learn to recognise incorrect forms in the Polish language, and they will become acquainted with the methods of effective communication, which will certainly turn out to be helpful in many everyday situations. The workshops will also be an opportunity to spend free time in a creative way and to have fun. The classes will be conducted by Magdalena Kądzioła.

The course will last from mid-October 2013 until the end of May 2014. The workshops will take place once every two weeks. The selection of participants is based on the completed application form. The applications are accepted until 11 October 2013.

Open meetings:

1) Living Workshop of the Polish Flag (10 November 2013)

What connection to the Polish flag do the letter H, water, fire and naval customs have? How to read the age of our country from the flag’s appearance? Bright red, cinnabar or crimson – which red is the most Polish? And is our eagle surely white? The flag and the coat of arms of the Republic of Poland hide many secrets. During the workshops we will turn into vexillologists travelling through subsequent eras, following the trail of those secrets. During games, plays and puzzles we will meet the legendary Lech, we will visit the fields of great battles and take a look into a medieval mint. In an old dyer’s workplace we will mix the pigments and choose the patterns. We will find the oldest colours and surprising forms of Polish flags. We will learn what patriotics, bows and rosettes were. We will also consider what could take their place today. Our ideas will be incorporated into action – in the Living Workshop of the Polish Flag we will prepare art works inspired by the national colours.

One can join the historical games and plays at any moment, throughout the duration of the workshops. The art classes will begin at full time:

11.00 am – patriotic prints on canvas bags
1.00 pm – White-and-red fans for children
2.00 pm – White-and-red tissue paper flowers
3.00 pm – National bows based on a model from 1831

Workshops conducted by Urszula Sobczyk.

2) Sing out Independence – a patriotic singing lesson (10 November 2013, 5:00 pm)

“Sing out Independence” is an action that consists in singing together Polish songs that were once performed by generations of Poles on the occasion of Regaining Independence in 1918. It is going to be a joyful, healthy and happy occasion! Why healthy? Professor Graham Welch from the University of London claims that singing influences both our physical and mental system, as well as the emotional one, in a positive manner. It additionally releases the hormone of pleasure!

11 November 1918 was the day when Poland regained its independence! Those who would like to celebrate this great occasion together and do something useful for their bodies at the same time should come on 10 November to the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London, 38-246 King Street (the Polish Cultural and Social Association) to sing famous national Polish songs.

Everyone can take part in the common singing and celebrating, no matter their age or proficiency in Polish.

The meeting will be conducted by Katy Carr, a British singer of Polish origin, Waldemar Domański, the head of the Library of Polish song and the originator of the idea of “Singing Lessons” in the Krakow Market, and Paweł Żaba, a composer from Bristol. We promise unusual arrangements of the songs, as well as that you will be able to sing as much as your heart (and soul) desire.
The repertoire is commonly known, and the organisers provide free songbooks.

Waldemar Domański is the originator and co-organiser of almost 50 concerts in Krakow entitled “Singing Lessons”, which consist in singing and making music together on the occasion of national holidays. The songbooks provided to the gathered audience remain a precious souvenir, and it is entire families and groups of friends that make use of them and share them during the lessons. In Poland, the lessons contributed to popularising a modern way of celebrating important national anniversaries, also religious celebrations, which is best evidenced by the crowds of participants gathering every year to sing in the Krakow Market. Until now, over 250,000 people took part in the “Singing lessons”. The slogan used by Waldemar Domański years ago – “Patriotism doesn’t have to mean suffering!” had a large influence on the change of the way national holidays are celebrated in Poland – from stilted to joyful occasions.

And now – the “Singing lessons” are also coming to London! If you want to celebrate the independence of your country and the anniversary of its regaining, come on 10 November to the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London. Scientists claim that group singing brings about more advantages than singing on your own: it influences positively one’s self-esteem and one’s sense of belonging. It makes us become more open and empathetic.

3) Living Christmas Traditions (1 December 2013)

Do you know how Christmas was celebrated 100 years ago and which of the old customs have survived until today? Is it necessary to eat borscht with dumplings and carp in order to feel the magic of Christmas? What does the true secret of Christmas Eve dishes consist in? Is the wafer only for eating? Who brought children presents before Santa Claus? What does decorating the tree have in common with getting married? What does “kutia” on the ceiling portend? These are only some of the questions that will come up during the day of intensive experiences with Living Christmas Traditions. Barbara Mołas and Agnieszka Nowakowska from the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow invite everyone to a common, family discovering of the roots of Christmas. We will explore the secrets of this extraordinary time in various ways – from the manual, ethnographic, as well as theatre and music sides of things. There are workshops of artistic handicraft awaiting us: during these, we will prepare traditional Christmas tree decorations. We will discover anew many forgotten, frequently surprising Christmas ceremonies and customs, whose source lies both in Christian and in pagan traditions. While making masks to use during caroling and learning traditional lyrics, we will prepare an improvised, exuberant spectacle of the celebrations with Turoń [the horned creature accompanying the carolers].

Workshops conducted by: Agnieszka Nowakowska, Barbara Mołas

4) Are bilingual children worth having? – workshops for parents bringing children up in immigration (7-8 December 2013)

The decision regarding the change of the family’s country of residence involves, among others, the issue of the children growing up in a different culture from that of their parents. It means, for instance, that they will talk different language in kindergarten or school from their parents’ mother tongue. What language should the parents use when talking to them? The one the child uses in the kindergarten / school? Or maybe the language the parents know the best and with which they feel emotionally connected?

During the workshops we will consider cognitive, social (within and beyond a family) consequences of such decisions. We will reflect whether it is worth it for the child to be bilingual if that means that he or she will be different from most of his/ her school friends. Will it facilitate his/her functioning at school, or make it more difficult? Does bilingualism bring about more advantages or drawbacks? How can a child’s or a family’s bilingualism be supported? How to deal with difficulties? Together with parents and children we will attempt to answer this question, drawing on the knowledge that stems from research over bilingualism, including our own project entitled “Cognitive and linguistic development of bilingual Polish children at the brink of school education: chances and risks” (carried out by a team of scholars from the Warsaw University and the Jagiellonian University, funded by the Ministry for Science and Higher Education / NCN).

Workshops conducted by: Zofia Wodniecka, PhD, Ewa Haman, PhD


Magdalena Kądzioła – graduate of Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University, currently a fifth year student of Inter-faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities of the Jagiellonian University. She completed a year-long course in Dramaturgy of the Body. She has attended classes at the Jagiellonian University Chair of Computer Linguistics. She is passionate about linguistics and social communication. In the academic year 2012/13 she coordinated the activities of the Section of Anthropology of the Word of the Academic Association of Linguistic Students at the Jagiellonian University. She is predominantly interested in sociolinguistics and ethnolinguistics, and the issues of non-verbal communication. She was associated with the “PRÓG” Theatre in Wadowice for 6 years. She has participated in many European theatre festivals and she has cooperated with such organisations as Harangos, AmaroDrom, Ternype. She has co-conducted theatre workshops in Berlin, Meckenbeuren and Friedrichshafen. She has cooperated with the Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London since March 2013.

Zofia Wodniecka, PhD – an associate professor at the Experimental Psychology Unit at the Jagiellonian University Institute of Psychology. She deals in psychological aspects of bilingualism. She was a Fullbright scholarship fellow at the Penn State University in the USA between 2002 and 2003. Between 2005-2007 she finished a postdoc at York University and in the Rotman Research Institute in Canada, and in 2009 she received Australian Group of Eight European Fellowship scholarship, which allowed her to carry out research with Polish immigrants in Sydney. In 2010 she received a Fundacja Nauki Polskiej subsidy for setting up her own research team (the FOCUS programme). At the moment, the team created thanks to the subsidy is carrying out a research programme under her leadership on the subject of cognitive aspects of bilingualism in adults and children, among others, a project co-funded by FNP and an NCN grant entitled “How bilingualism influences the flexibility of the cognitive system. Brain foundations and influence on social categorisation.” In cooperation with the scholars from the Warsaw University, the team is also carrying out an international research project pertaining to linguistic and cognitive development of Polish bilingual children (funded by the Ministry for Science and Higher Education / NCN). Dr. Wodniecka is the author and co-author of articles in international specialist journals, as well as a chapter entitled  “Dwujęzyczność. Właściwości dwujęzycznego umysłu i specyfika badań psychologicznych nad dwujęzycznością” [“Bilingualism. The properties of a bilingual mind and the specifics of psychological research over bilingualism”] (in: I. Kurcz, H. Okuniewska (Eds.) Język jako przedmiot badań. [Language as a research subject] Academica, pp. 253-284), and a publication that popularises the subject of the consequences of bilingualism among teachers (Wodniecka, Z., Cepeda, N. (2007). Beyond the Classroom: Bilingualism, Cognitive Skills and Health. Mosaic. A Journal for Language Teachers. 9, 3-8).

Ewa Haman, PhD – an associate professor at the Laboratory of Psycholinguistics at the Faculty of Psychology, Warsaw University. She deals in the lexical development of mono- and bilingual children and in the intercultural differences in linguistic development. She cooperated with SUNY, Fredonia, USA in the project “Cross-Cultural Examination of Parent-Child Narratives and Conversations”. She was a board member of the European cooperation programme COST Action A33 “Cross-linguistically Robust Stages of Children’s Linguistic Performance” (2008-2010), as well as a co-leader of the work group and a board member of the programme COST Action IS0804 “Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment” (Bi-SLI). Dr. Haman is the author of the first normalised test evaluating the vocabulary range in monolingual Polish children: Obrazkowy Test Słownikowy – Rozumienie (Haman & Fronczyk, 2012) and the author of Cross-Linguistic Lexical Tasks / CLT used to evaluate the vocabulary range and lexical processing in bi- and multilingual children, that are created on the basis of new methodology developed in the Bi-SLI programme. At present, together with scholars from the Warsaw University and the Jagiellonian University, she is carrying out a research project pertaining to linguistic and cognitive development of Polish bilingual children (funded by the Ministry for Science and Higher Education / NCN). Dr. Haman published academic articles in Polish and international journal (e.g. in Psychologia Rozwojowa, Psychology of Language and Communication, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology).

Agnieszka Nowakowska – a respected arts educator who has cooperated with Krakow museums for several years. Her fascinations revolve around working both with the youngest creators, who have just celebrated their first birthday, and with the mentally impaired. She came across the art of the latter in Paris, 2005-2007, while working at a centre for the mentally impaired in Foyer Saint Louis in Versailles. At the same time, she studied the art of illustration at the Paris Ecole Estienne. She transplanted her French experiences onto the Polish ground after returning to the country in 2007, as she became engaged in educational activities, originally directed mainly to the community of persons with disabilities. She is the co-creator of innovative educational projects conducted with people with disabilities in the space of the National Museum in Krakow (Gdzie zaczyna się niebo” 2008/2009 – at the Erazm Ciołek museum, Odyseja Sztuki” 2010/2011 – at the main building of the National Museum in Krakow, „Sztuka z Ducha – laboratorium twórczości Wyspiańskiego” 2011 –  at the Szołayski Tenement House). Since 2011 she has been cooperating with the Association of Cultural Initiatives INSPIRO (Stowarzyszenie Inicjatyw Kulturalnych INSPIRO), where – together with Barbara Mołas – she has conducted many extraordinary family workshops. In 2012, she started cooperation with the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, where, next to projects directed at the youth and workshops for families, she also conducts “Mieszek” – classes for the youngest enthusiasts of culture and art that she has authored.

Barbara Mołas – graduate of Romance Philology and Graphics at the Pedagogical University in Krakow. During her language studies she was a member of the French-language theatre „Théâtre de l’Entr’Acte”. As an arts educator, she cooperates with young creators both at the preschool and at the middle school age. When conducting creative workshops pertaining to the broadly understood matter of image and word, she relies on children’s natural tendency to learn about art and the world. The educational method she has developed is based on the creative process, struggling with the matter, and expression – both plastic and theatrical. She conducted workshops at the Centre of Creative Workshops “The Attic” (Centrum Warsztatów Twórczych „Poddasze”), Royal Baths Museum in Warsaw (Muzeum Łazienek Królewskich) and the National Museum in Krakow, where, together with Agnieszka Nowakowska, she created innovative projects of workshops for persons with intellectual disabilities („Odyseja Sztuki” 2010/2011 – at the main building of the National Museum in Krakow, „Sztuka z Ducha – laboratorium twórczości Wyspiańskiego” 2011 –  at the Szołayski Tenement House). Since 2011 she has been conducting series of weekend workshops that she has authored at the main building of the National Museum in Krakow. She permanently cooperates with the Association of Cultural Initiatives INSPIRO (Stowarzyszenie Inicjatyw Kulturalnych INSPIRO), conducting theatre workshops for children and youth, and – together with Agnieszka Nowakowska – exuberant workshops for families. In 2012 she has begun cooperation with the Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, where she manages to connect the work of an arts educator with passion for tradition and folk culture.

Urszula Sobczyk – graduate of pedagogics at the University of Wrocław and the Postgraduate Museology Studium at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, student of ethnology and cultural anthropology as a part of the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities at the Jagiellonian University, scout master, animator of games for children and youth. Between 2009 and 2011 she was the president of the Pedagogics Students’ Academic Club Etno at the University of Wrocław. Her Master’s dissertation entitled “The cross-permeation of cultures on Lemkivshchyna” was awarded the title of the 2011 Best Diploma at the same university. She is interested in the issues of identity and heritage in the liminal cultural areas. In her educational work she utilises elements of pedagogics of nature. She is an author of scripts of city and field games. She deals with cross-cultural, historical and regional education. She conducted workshops she authored in the Museum of the People’s Republic of Poland in Krakow, in the Gallery of Book in Oświęcim, the Etz Chaim Primary School of Cultural Dialogue in Wroclaw, as well as in other school and kindergartens of the Lower Silesia and Lesser Poland Voivodeship.