Teaching – Krzysztof E. Borowski
  1. Teaching Philosophy
  2. Featured Courses
    1. Multicultural Central Europe
    2. The Politics of Laughter: Polish Comedy Culture
    3. Migrant Nation: The Polish-American Experience
    4. Europe of Regions and Ethnic Minorities
    5. Elementary/Intermediate/Advanced Polish
  3. Courses Taught
  4. Students’ Digital Projects

As a teacher, I see myself as a classroom facilitator whose role is to spark students’ interest in all things Polish. My courses are an eclectic mix of open-ended discussions, short lectures, group work, and occasional personal anecdotes. Whether teaching Polish language, literature, society, or history, I employ storytelling to foster students’ engagement. I maintain a dynamic classroom environment by planning for and implementing communicative tasks, frequent student-student and student-instructor interactions, and leaving time for free expressions of thought. I facilitate students’ immersion in the material through digital projects and tools, promoting learning through creative expression.

In my Polish language courses, I employ a communicative approach that emphasizes interaction and combines interactive tasks with concise grammatical instruction to build students’ confidence in the language. In my experience, students perform best when they possess relevant metalinguistic awareness and have multiple opportunities to practice new constructions. To facilitate students’ immersion, I rely on creative activities, frequent in-class collaborations, and occasional metalinguistic comments that draw on their knowledge of languages. Learning languages can (and should) be fun for everyone, which is how I approach my lesson design. In December 2021, my Polish-language teaching materials received a distinction from the North American Association of Teachers of Polish (NAATPl) in the Instructor Award for Exemplary Teaching and Learning Materials competition.

In my culture and society courses, I engage with major global issues — migration, multicultural heritage, politics, and comedy — in the context of Poland and/or neighboring areas. As I often say, Poland has over 1,000 years of history and millions of stories to tell. My job as an instructor is to excavate intriguing stories that teach us something valuable about the world around us. I aim to de-exoticize Poland by showcasing it as a fascinating case study within Europe and the world.

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Multicultural Central Europe

Is the presence of multiple cultures and languages in Poland and the region a myth or a forgotten reality?

This is the question we study in this course, which takes a bird’s-eye view of the various cultures, languages, and traditions that influenced and continue to influence Poland and the broader region from the middle ages to the early 20th century. Designed as a survey of the region’s diverse languages, literature, and cultures through the lens of ethnic, linguistic, religious minorities, and multicultural cityscapes. Topics include Vikings in Poland, Jewish history in the region, Slavic-German borderlands, and cultural influences from the East. For the final project, students completed a collaborative multimedia mapping project. Features guest lectures by Leszek Gardeła, Tomasz Grusiecki, and Oksana Stoychuk.

Student enrollment: 60. Download the course poster here.

Politics of Laughter: Polish Comedy Culture

Can comedy provide relief and help people survive political turmoil and oppressive political systems?

This is the question we entertained in this course, which introduces students to the history of oppression and power relations in 20th-century Poland and its representations in Polish culture. Among the discussed texts are literature (e.g., The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma by Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz), film (e.g., The Cruise/Rejs by Marek Piwowski, Sexmission/Seksmisja by Juliusz Machulski), TV (Chairman’s Ear/Ucho prezesa satirical web series), and music (e.g., WW2 song Axe, hoe/Siekiera, motyka, Chłopcy radarowcy by Andrzej Rosiewicz). The course package also included an official Spotify playlist featuring Polish protest songs. For the final class project, students designed and presented brand-new posters for selected literary and film texts. Featured a guest lecture/presentation by Irena Frączek (PHC Wisconsin, Madison) on life and resistance in communist Poland.

Student enrollment: 40. Download the course poster here.

The Politics of Laughter: Polish Comedy Culture
Migrant Nation: The Polish-American Experience
Migrant Nation: Polish-American Experience

When and why did Poles migrate to the Americas? How was their experience reflected in literature and film?

This is the question we entertained in this course, which introduces students to the history of migrations from the Polish lands from the early 18th to the late 20th centuries. Among the discussed texts are literature (e.g., After Bread: A Story of Polish Emigrant Life to America/Za chlebem by Henryk Sienkiewicz, Lost in Translation: Life in a New Language by Eva Hoffman) and film (e.g., Jack Strong by Władysław Pasikowski, Happy New York/Szczęśliwego Nowego Jorku by Andrzej Zaorski), the course examines representations of migratory movements throughout the last two centuries. For the final class project, students completed digital storytelling projects on migration, showcased on the UW–Madison Polish Studies page. Featured a guest visit/poetry reading by Polish-American poet John Guzlowski.

Student enrollment: 12. Download the course poster here.

Europe of Regions and Ethnic Minorities

What is Europe from the perspective of minorities and other traditionally marginalized communities?

This is the question we entertained in this course, which reverses the traditional approach to European area studies. The course introduces students to the ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity of the European continent, and surveys it through the lens of its non-titular groups and communities. Topics include Silesia, Pomaks, Catalonia, and the Romani community. For the final class project, students prepared policy briefs with recommendations on existing conflicts. Featured guest lectures by Renee Perelmutter on the European Jewish experience and Carolina Costa Candal on Galician regionalism in Spain.

Europe of Regions and Ethnic Minorities
Elementary/Intermediate/Advanced Polish
Elementary/Intermediate/Advanced Polish

As a language, Polish boasts a centuries-long history and is spoken by some 50 million people worldwide, from the U.S. to Australia. I have been teaching Polish language courses at the college level since 2014 (with a year-long break in 2019/2020), including an intensive Polish course in the summer of 2021. My courses adopt a communicative, interaction-based approach combined with a healthy dose of grammar instruction to provide students with much-needed language scaffolding. My additional teaching materials extend traditional coursework (textbook, grammar) to such topics as Polish culture, media, traditions, and society. Rather than exoticizing Polish, I present it as drawing from and similar in form and substance to more popular European languages.

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Courses Taught

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Language courses

First Semester Polish (Fall 2020***, Fall 2022*, listed as Slavic 111)
Second Semester Polish (Spring 2021**; Spring 2022*, listed as Slavic 112)
Third Semester Polish (Fall 2021*, Fall 2022*, listed as Slavic 207)
Fourth Semester Polish (Spring 2022*, listed as Slavic 208)
Advanced Polish (Spring 2021**; Fall 2021*, listed as Slavic 277/278/305/306/331/332)

Culture and Society courses

Multicultural Central Europe (Spring 2022*, listed as Slavic 245)
The Politics of Laughter: Polish Comedy Culture (Spring 2021**, listed as Slavic 245)
Migrant Nation: The Polish American Cultural Experience (Fall 2020***, listed as Slavic 245)

University of Pittsburgh

2021 Summer Language Institute (SLI)

Beginning Intensive Polish** (primary instructor)
Intermediate Intensive Polish** (secondary instructor)

The University of Kansas

Language courses

Elementary Polish I* (Fall 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, listed as PLSH 104)
Elementary Polish II* (Spring 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, listed as PLSH 108)
Intermediate Polish I* (Fall 2016, listed as PLSH 204)
Intermediate Polish II* (Spring 2017, listed as PLSH 208)
Advanced Polish I* (Fall 2016, listed as PLSH 504)

Culture and Society course

Europe of Regions and Ethnic Minorities* (Spring 2017, listed as SLAV 379)

* in person, ** online, *** in-person/online

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Students’ Digital Projects

My students have completed numerous multimedia projects. These include final projects in the form of websites, videos, and podcasts for the Polish-American experience course.

Digital Storytelling - the Polish-American Experience final projects section
Section featuring students’ final projects in the Polish-American experience course (screen capture from https://gns.wisc.edu/languages/polish)

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