Visiting a Polish School in Amsterdam

One of my favourite pastimes is to engage with younger generations about language and history. I could do so again yesterday, this time to talk about new research that I have only just completed, on Dutch-Polish bilingualism in the 17th century: who could speak Polish and Dutch at the time, where and why? My presentation included Dutch traders in GdaƄsk, Polish students in Franeker and Leiden, and Jewish translators in Amsterdam. What made this event special was the fact that my audience itself was bilingual, as I was a guest at Fundacja Polskie Centrum Edukacji i Kultury Lokomotywa in Amsterdam, where I gave a talk about Dutch-Polish historical relations last year as well. Lokomotywa is a Saturday school for children of Polish descent (there are dozens of such schools in the Netherlands – I myself attended the Polish school in Goirle for many years). Talking to bilingual children about bilingualism: I was over the moon, and I think they liked it too, especially when we got to the quiz about old Polish and Dutch words!

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