Anna Grzywacz

Warsaw University



Language policy is a major factor assisting a country foreign policy. Polish language policy seems to be less effective than Indonesian. However, both states have equally considerable potentials, but in the case of Poland, it seems that significance of culture policy is not appreciated. Cultural policy, which primarily is important element of creating country’s image in the world, strengthens the international position and seems to have ability to impact on imposed by the West’s cultural domination. This article presents discussion on the Polish and Indonesian language policy. Starting with the general concept of soft power and language policy, the writer presents general comparison of Indonesian and Poland’s language policy. This article concludes that Indonesian language policy is somewhat better than that of Poland.

Keywords: soft power, language policy, Indonesian language, Polish language

Globalization, the term extremely popular, is alluring and sometimes abused, for most had its beginning in The Age of Discovery. “Discovered” were new trails, other regions and continents. So, “discovered” were people and their cultures. “Discovered” not became known, understood, but “discovered” (Dussel 1995, 2000).

This word is an element of domination discovering over discovered. Today, cultural sensitivity, and its proper understanding should lead to the process of Re-Discovery of the others, with the understanding of colonial history of “baggage”. Understanding is the relevant communication tool and its strength is determined by language.

Research area of this work is language foreign policy, a wider cultural policy of Poland and Indonesia, the importance and impact of this policy on the perception of the state in the world, and its significance to the building soft power resources. In this article, it is hypothesized that language foreign policy –defined as the promotion of language abroad- significantly increase the soft power resources and is effectively to lead, support regional and global political aspirations of the state. It is also an instrument of creating and changing the state’s image, and primarily is a means of better, more appropriate and “truer” understanding of other cultures. This article is written based on the Polish and Indonesian language policies. It is hard to compete for attention with hard power, which is why cultural policy is so important. Cultural elements regarded as attractive, have been acquiring growing number of adherents.

This paper is an attempt to show that the language policy – which is central of culture – is a major factor assisting the Polish and Indonesian foreign policies. The intensity of supporting the foreign policy depends on the policy’s effectiveness. Polish language policy seems to be less effective than Indonesian. However, both states have equally considerable potentials, but in the case of Poland, it seems that the significance of culture policy is not very much appreciated. Cultural policy, a primarily important element of creating country’s image in the world, strengthens the international position and seems to have ability to impact on the influences by the Western cultural domination.

First, this paper will discuss the basic concept of soft power and language policy before embarking on the discussion on the Indonesian and Poland’s language policy.

Soft Power and Power of Language

The author of the concept of soft power is Joseph S. Nye, an American scholar of international relations and political science. He used this term for the first time in 1980.  The phrase coined the literature of the international relations studies in 1990, when his book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power was published. Joseph S. Nye developed the concept in Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics in 2004. This term is then widely used in international politics and affairs. Soft power is “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments” (Nye 2004).

The state power can be divided into two categories: hard power, composed of military and economic resources and soft power, composed of three resources: culture, political values and ideas, and foreign policy (Nye 2004).  Hard power and soft power are related to each other. However, strictly differentiating of the two is very difficult. Culture, values and institutions which are found tempting for states in international system are elements which enable the use of soft power (Nye 2004: 8). Using soft power can be seen through the spread of radio, television, newspapers, academic and cultural exchanges, training in foreign languages. Those are forms of public diplomacy, which strengthen the state and their influence over the masses (Nye 2008; Atkison 2010).

Increasing prevalence of a state’s culture, values and institutions gives the possibility that citizens of other states may become fascinated by the attributes of the dominating state, and the following, trying to mimic it. Enticed by the culture, power of a state can increase and other states try to imitate the desirable features.

 Hard power considers military and economy strength and size. The power of a state is based on the concept which makes it easily operated and quantified. The influence of education, as well as promotion of education and language abroad of media and the spread of culture are other manifestations of power. They are not included in this conceptualization of hard power. Soft power is an important type of power in an increasingly globalized world, where the international community may discourage the use of military or less often economy force (McClory 2010).

Soft power unlike hard power is not a commodity; however both can be used for specific objectives but in different methods. Soft power is a relative and intangible concept. Components of hard power like military are relatively easy to quantify. Soft power, by “its nature”, is difficult to measure, count or analyze. This relational nature of soft power makes also cross-national comparison difficulties. Perception of one country may be significantly different from that of others (McClory 2010).

Power is influential factor in international politics. Soft power avoids traditional foreign policy, implements and allocates instead the attractiveness of institutions, culture, politics and foreign policy to shape the preferences of others (Nye 2011a).

After Cold War, global affairs have a nature changing and international environment seems to be more complex, and it fosters more to soft power mechanism. What we call soft power right now is not new. But information revolution and global media have increased into well-informed global public with emerging ability to influence politics (see Nye 2011b).

Promoting culture values has been received universally, with which other nations can identify and naturally they seem attractive, important and appreciated. Volume and extent of cultural output are crucial for soft power strengths; however, mass production is not what mass influence is. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider culture quality and international achievement of country’s cultural outcomes, if culture quality can be measured somehow. However, culture needs to be promoted in the world, and language seems to be a “comfortable tool” in extending influence in the world.

Soft power’s global profile and its explanatory value have been increasing for two decades now. This made it a central feature of wider discourses on international politics. Leslie Gelb has argued that “soft power now seems to mean everything” (Gelb 2009: 69). Criticism is based on overexposure of concept and using soft power by policy makers without the sufficient understanding of concept are two challenges to soft power’s integrity (MacClory 2011).

Power, in international relations, has traditionally been considered as a predominantly realist concept. From realist perspective, only material and substantial resources, like military, population, and territory are worth to be considered in international politics. During twentieth century, international relations studies evolved and competed to challenge the realist perspective and its interpretation of power in international politics. The study of international relations can be perceived as a constant struggle between realism, liberalism and critical theories (see Morgenthau 1948; Waltz 1979; Keohane, Nye 1977; Wendt 1992, also Viotti, Kaupii 1999).

Soft power has a long history and its growing appeal lies in its utility in the present-day context. International politics is in the process of transformation, and this process has been bringing difficulties for policy makers and diplomats. There are four primary factors: diffusion of power, information and communications technology changes, networks and the decline of traditional propaganda. Diffusion of power can be seen in two ways. First, power seems to drift between states, moving from West to East (see Mahbubani 2008). Second, non-state actors play a more significant role, moving power from states altogether. Communication and information revolution can be connected to global affairs. Increasingly informed and active global public are outcomes of delivering information throughout the world and extended access to information. Information can make any individual more powerful than ever in history. International network is the factor linked to previous era. International networks can comprise set of actors like states, society, groups, organizations, also individuals. As a result of cooperation, the forms can be movements of working for solutions for global or specific problems. The last factor, the decline of propaganda, is because many politicians are hard to accept. It is hardly possible to deliver a message to domestic audience while international community gets another. Inconsistencies between state’s policy and messaging are more conspicuous. Information crosses borders, and information, being a power, inquires proper usage (MacClory 2010, 2011).

Language Policy in International Relations

Harold F. Schiffman notes that language policy and language planning should not be treated as one topic. He refers (after Bugarski) the term language policy “to the policy of a society in the area of linguistic communication—that is, the set of positions, principles and decisions reflecting that community’s relationships to its verbal repertoire and communicative potential”, and language planning is “understood as a set of concrete measures taken within language policy to act on linguistic communication in a community, typically by directing the development of its languages” (Schiffman 1996: 3). For Schiffman the basis tenet is that language policy is grounded in linguistic culture. Linguistic culture is defined as a set of behaviors, assumptions, cultural forms, prejudices, folk belief system, attitudes, stereotypes, ways of thinking about language, and religio-historical circumstances related to a language (Schiffman 1996: 5).

Language can be used for many and for specific purposes such as government decisions, political debate, media and is related to the ability to express the relevant content in the language. Major investment would be needed to provide a language used so far for other cultural purposes. In standardization process, the breadth of the tolerated area of variation is of essential significance. This is what Peter Sutton calls “language engineering” (Sutton 1991: 141).

Language policy’s outcomes can be divided into two categories: effective or ineffective. A state can support minority languages or indigenous languages, also involves in a foreign language planning that has an economic or strategic significance. Those outcomes can be failure or success. Outcomes are related to planning process, which should considerate factors like forces of economic, technological, social and political changes (La Bianco 2010: 38).

Learner or user of language is connected in time and space to cultural tradition. It is                  a significant process in which link with the past to provide a unique form of access to other tradition. Process is the effect of using tools, that language requires, that has been invented not by learner and re-circulated for long periods of time by others. These observations have educational consequences. In studying history, what is acquired is knowledge about other time. In studying geography, what we encounter are other places. Learning does not only involve gaining knowledge, but also appreciation of otherness – the cultural conceptualizations –  which are the foundations influencing other groups’ collectively to encounter with reality, whether it is other times, belief or values. Every cultural group has its own semiotic systems, experiences or values. Learning different artistic traditions or religions allows encountering what and how they really are. Ideally, this has effect of re-imagination assumptions about what is “normal” and appropriate to enriching perspective that diversity makes intercultural awareness. Accepting different languages can lead into intercultural competence.

Significant extension of intercultural competence can form a disposition of world-mindedness what La Bianco defines as a “state of thinking and an attitude that extends knowledge of difference and acceptance of its nature to groups and traditions beyond those the individual has directly studied and known”. In all those processes—intercultural awareness, fostering intercultural competence and shaping world-mindedness—the vital role is assigned to language policy (La Bianco, 2010: 44).

Foreign and second-language teaching by definition provide enchantment of the studied group, its culture, religious belief, traditions or aspirations. Foreign language culture teaching implies “compressing” the knowledge and generalizing information. World-mindedness seeks to invest this method in a wider scope, so learners can gain and study Others. Studies of comparative art, philosophy, religion, law, and history introduce Otherness. However, unlike these fields of study, language has an exceptional perspective in learning and understanding difference and Otherness. It is without significance connection between language and behavior. Language is not a simple knowledge or cognition of past or places, it requires more than that which are activating and performing the new knowledge, considering on a different cultural system (La Bianco 2010: 44-45).

Language policy-making can be divided into four main domains or spheres of activity: sovereignty, jurisdiction, influence and behavior. Characteristic modes of participation in the process are: public texts (such as laws, regulations and planning), public discourses (statements, discussion and public attitudes) and performative actions (behavior, what the powerful individuals, institutions and actors do) and deliberative process (facilitated degree of discussion on policy problems, strategic planning and implementation) (La Bianco 2010: 48).

The purposes of language planning activity are: (a) actions that formalize or elevate the status of language, (b) actions that modify the corpus of a language, (c) actions that promote the learning of language and the acquisition of literacy, (d) actions that extend the domains and usage of language, (e) actions that elevate the prestige and esteem of language, (f) actions that modify the discourse and attitudes towards the language. From these actions, promoting the learning of language means planning relatively free of public texts, laws and sovereignty provisions of government. However, it is highly dependent on effective administrative action, technical skills of teachers and theirs educators and administrators (La Bianco, 2010).

Foreign language teaching also belongs in this category of actions; however, it typically depends on education ministries. There are several types of foreign language teaching policies, divided on the basis of social hierarchies, positions and interests. Prestigious languages have been privileged by social elites, especially those have been seen and admired by theirs cultural or intellectual history and traditions. Some languages are “used” because they are strategically important for trade, diplomacy or international relations. This is involved in economic or human capital development planning (La Bianco 2010: 54).

Language policy is primarily a social construct, consisting of various elements; juridical and administrative elements may be extant in some jurisdictions. Policy has explicit nature. Language policy as a cultural construct reposes primarily on other conceptual elements, like belief system, myths and as a whole complex it refers to linguistic culture. Linguistic culture is ensemble of ideas, beliefs, religious structures, values and “cultural baggage”- that a speaker brings from his background. Also, a linguistic culture concerns with the transmission and codification of a language. This involves the role for language in replication, construction and transmission of culture itself (Schiffman 1996: 276-280).

Language is a construct; however, its deconstructions or changes can be implied by, for example, political scholars. Every language policy is culture-specific. To understand why and how policies evolve or how people are influenced by them, see the discussion in the study of linguistic culture (Schiffman 1996: 280).

In nineteenth-century in Tsarist Russia language policy was based on Russian only. However, actually some variations occurred from this policy, especially in partitioned Poland from the occupation of Russia. From anecdotal evidence, like autobiographies of Polish speakers, here Maria Skłodowska-Curie, it is known that teacher in the school covertly taught in Polish. However, during the inspections the best students, those who are speaking Russian, who are considered the best, were parading before the school inspector. This is what Schiffman calls “Potemkin” policies. Potemkin village was a construction of false-front, with actors smiling and waving to Tsarina Catherine the Great (Schiffman 1996: 6).

Language in education can be divided into two major categories: medium of instruction and language taught as a subject. These functions of language can be classified into four categories: cognitive, instrumental, integrative and cultural. The cognitive functions are related to learners’ intellectual development, the instrumental function refers to knowledge how to use language for material gains. The integrative function makes oneself a member of the group using language as a symbol of identity. The last is cultural function, which is related to possibility of gaining a deep understanding and appreciation of the culture to which language belongs (Nababan 1991: 121, see Lin, Martin 2005).

At this point, this function seems to be the most important. Learning a language is a process when not only language skills are acquired. Accompanying learning process knowledge extends to many areas, including country’s economy, history, political system, and social issues. It could be also a “clash of civilizations”, which improves, corrects and shapes knowledge about the Other “world”. Edward W. Said in his Orientalism proved that gained knowledge is what we imagine about the Others, without understanding how this knowledge was shaped by history, politics or discourses. Orientalism world is stereotypically perceived, this is a main reason to learn about the others cultures, to understand them.

About knowledge and power relationships, Said wrote in his monumental work “Orientalism”, which was first published in 1978. According to him, there is no “pure” scientific knowledge, because inevitably it is linked to power. Interdependence between knowledge and power – referring to Michel Foucault – has shown that Western science was used to legitimization of European / Western imperialism. Mentioning Orientalism is a frame in an epistemological frame in which it presents as “a geographical and cultural, political, demographic, sociological and historical complex”, which traditionally is controlled by “real Europeans”.  The juxtaposition of East and West divides the quality as follows: The West is a logical, normal, empirical, cultural, rational, and realistic. While East is backward, degenerate, uncultured, retarded, rigid, illogical, despotic, and it does not participate creatively in the world’s development. Orientalist, according to Said, describes East as entirely in the needs of the West, preferring the enlightenment model of knowledge than non-European reality. As a result, there is a one-sided, biased and subjective science, which, however, aspires to formulate “objective truth” (Gawrycki 2010).

Edward W. Said defines Orientalism as “a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western experience. The Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. Yet none of this, Orient is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture. Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles” (Said1978: 35).

Language is a power, which has a soft power building measurement. It also has not only a linguistic knowledge and but also a support to the state’s foreign policy.

Indonesia’s Foreign Language Policy

Indonesia is generally regarded as a “pivotal” state. Many Indonesian leaders, after Indonesia’s independence in 1945, perceived country’s size, history, resources, economic and cultural potential as component of state which is predestined to a leadership role in Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s history showed that the country was not always prepared for such a role in region and reflection like this seemed to be just a postponed conception. Scholars nowadays admit that Indonesia has been more and more growing. The regional and global profile of Indonesia seems to be not questionable as many as before. Indonesia has been playing a very important role in building political and security community in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Apart from this regional cooperation, Indonesia strengthens bilateral partnerships with the most and very important countries such as United States of America, Australia, Russia, emerging countries such as India or China. Indonesia is an important participant of United Nations Security Council and G-20. Moreover, Indonesia is engaged on many international issues, including climate change, energy security, and food security or combating terrorism. More importantly, Indonesia’s consolidation of democracy improved domestic resilience for many countries and international community. Indonesia has experienced an impressive economic growth, annually between 4 to 6 per cent, which places Indonesia in  very good position (Laksmana 2011: 157-158).

Indonesia’s influence in Asia has increased remarkably over the past decade. The increase in economic power is the most significant one, especially in Southeast Asia. In 2008 OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) report the points that Indonesia was included as the member of BRICS (an acronym for leading emerging economies- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, re-named it to BRIICS. Beyond the economic growth, the strengthening of Indonesia’s soft power has been essential in expanding the regional influence. Indonesian values and culture have potentials to compete in Southeast Asian region, and widely in Asian region. In terms of entertainment, Indonesian TV and radio broadcasting  stations have attracted people all over the Asia region, especially in Asian countries. Being active in regional multilateral organization in ASEAN and  others, Indonesia attracts the interest of international students and promote the study of Indonesian language.

Indonesia’s foreign policy, taking historical and political experiences, could be regarded as  “independent and active”. Government expresses this doctrine in the country’s soft power in shaping the regional environment and participating in international organizations. In addition, the government believes and adheres to the principles of non-intervention and multilateralism. Eventhough democratization improved Indonesia’s soft power, it has made more difficult for the government to proceed a coherent and stable foreign policy. By the increasing roles of the parliament and stronger public opinion influence, the foreign policy becomes more complicated. Foreign policy is influenced by thinking of the defense and military establishment, however, material capabilities, such as economic, military, demography, are not enough to fully account for the rise of global power. To understand Indonesia’s regional and global profile, it is crucial is considered non-material factors (Laksmana 2011: 177-178, see also Dibb 2001).

Indonesia, ranked after United States of America and India, is world’s third largest democracy. The location at the geographic nexus between Southeast Asia and Australia fills strategic potential. Moreover, Indonesia is an important partner in global commerce and harbors with rich cultural heritage. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesian constitution guarantees religious tolerance. Unfortunately, Indonesia is not widely known, understood and studied by both scholar and students. At this point, it is important that United States of America and Indonesia decided to “complete the project” of broadening relations not only to share ideas and innovations, but also to build understanding. U.S. after 9/11 became driving force of building image of Muslims as terrorists. Indonesia has a potential to re-build this negative “picture”.

It is almost impossible to find the country in the world with the same populations of one ethnic origins, language, culture and religious belief. The significant difference can be seen on every continent, especially in new emerging nations of Southeast Asia like Indonesia.  National awareness is often described as a common sentiment. From all the elements of culture, language is one of the most effective means for shaping and creating community (Hoy-Kee, 1971: 73; Laitin, 2001).

Every new independent country in Southeast Asia has attempted successfully in adopting a national language. Southeast Asian states have believed that the adoption and development of a national language is crucial for making sense of national identity. Without this identity process, the building powerful state is hampered and could be incomplete effectively (Hoy-Kee 1971: 73). The new independent postcolonial nation seeks to “independent construction” which reflects its own desires and aspirations. It also expresses the willingness of removing “the blemish of colonial history”.

Some attention has been paid to the aspects of Indonesian development; however, it is not enough to view. One of the more accessible aspects called “the nationality problem writ small: language development. Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) by Geertz is a significantly robust language of the developing world; however, some elements are unexplored. Language and its dialects are symbols of ethnic identity and community affiliation. Language is a primary means in shaping social relations process and basis of effective communication. For those reasons, forms and ways of using language can be described as articulated elements of a broader social phenomenon (Erington, 1986: 330).

When new or changed patterns of ethnic and national allegiance appear, it can build up the emergence of new things. Take for example communication need in new institutional setting emerges, the perception of social status and role changes, knowledge about the complex patterns of verbal interaction appears useful, the whole things are as a basis of explanatory process. Patterns of language use:  in different contexts, situations, depending on the subject or speech partner, can become a socially important basis reflecting the changes in the language between ethnically and socioeconomically different communities. The Indonesian language development is a multifaceted process, which effectively shapes the language of the nation in the world too. In addition, it constructs the so-called a symbol of indigenous Indonesian identity. Those patterns of change are the guidelines to the broader patterns of social change, in which linguistic changes have been introduced and disseminated (Erington, 1986: 330, see also Sneddon, 2003).

Benedict Anderson argued that Indonesian is “an enterprise for the mastery of a gigantic cultural crisis, and a partly subconscious project for the assumption of ‘modernity’ within the modalities of an autonomous and autochthonous social-political tradition” (Erington 1986: 331). Anderson studied Javanese linguistic influence on Indonesian culture, with its center in Jakarta. Jakarta was founded by the Dutch as Batavia in 1619 and has always been ethnically complex. Among the Jakarta’s spoken languages are dialects of Malay, language of southern Sumatra, the Riau Archipelago, the coast of Kalimantan and on the Malay peninsula. Malay was used as a lingua franca by traders or travelers for many centuries and from its dialects Indonesian language derived. Bahasa Indonesia has been influenced by languages of indigenous ethnic groups, foreigners, traders and others, as it has always been receptive of impact of languages from inside and outside Southeast Asia such as Arabic, Portuguese, and Chinese. Likewise, Malay was adopted by the Dutch as a language of colonial administration, over time being standardized among elite of the Dutch East Indies (Errington 1986: 334-335, also Anderson 1990; Nugroho 1957).

Joseph Erington notices in Colonial Linguistics (2001) that Malay as a lingua franca in the Dutch East Indies can be considered by its status shaped as object of colonial linguistics. Malay became an object of descriptive and codifying attention “because of its growing salience for regime that progressively penetrated territories and communities. Linguistic work offers evidence of underlying tensions between colonial needs for effective communicative praxis across lines of sociolinguistic difference on one hand, and colonial ideologies of languages as marks of identity on the other” (Erington 2001: 29).

Indonesia’s national language policy has been called a “miraculous success”, “a great success” and “perhaps even the most spectacular linguistic phenomenon of our age” (Paauw 2009: 1, also Dardjowidjojo 1998).

Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan)  in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kementerian Luar  Negeri)  have been organizing a scholarship program for foreign students which is called “Darmasiswa”. This scholarship is provided for citizens of countries which has diplomatic and close relations with Indonesia.

Darmasiswa students can study some disciplines such as: Indonesian language, arts, craft and music. The program was created to promote and increase the interest in the Indonesian language and culture. It provides stronger cultural links among participating countries.

This program involves 45 different universities in Indonesia. Darmasiswa program has been started since 1974 as a part of ASEAN initiative. For the first two years, this program was limited to ASEAN area, and it was extended to include students from expanding countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and United States of America.

Table 1. Numbers of Participants and Countries in Darmasiswa Program


Number of participants

Number of countries
















Source: Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia

This program involves 45 different universities in Indonesia. Darmasiswa program started in 1974 as a part of ASEAN initiative. For the first two years, this program was limited to ASEAN area, and it was extended to include students from countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and United States of America.

In 90’s this program was extended again to include all countries having diplomatic relationship with Indonesia. Today, more than 75 countries are participating in Darmasiswa Program. Year by year more students participate in this program. In 2011 it prepared scholarship for 750 students (Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia). As it is shown in the Table 1, 2010 was the year of significant increase. Scholarships was received by 550 more students than in 2009 in 33 more countries (Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia)

Poland’s Language Foreign Policy

Polish language seen from the cultural perspective seems unattractive to average European. Slavic languages generally, Polish in particular, are poorly known and regarded as useless in Western Europe. Traditionally and stereotypically they are associated with cultural backward and poor countries. This perception builds stereotypes, for example, about their supposedly exceptional complexity or difficult “rustling” pronunciation. Consequently, it creates a feeling of cultural alienation of Polish language and other Slavic languages (Pawłowski, 2006:8)

Ministry of Science and Higher Education works with foreign Polish language teaching academic centers to do cooperation in education and culture for promotion, dissemination and development of language teaching.

Every year, the ministry consults with Polish diplomatic mission to improve the relation with new academic centers. The cooperation has been implemented via diplomatic missions. Cooperation and assistance for foreign universities is based on submitted requirements. Teachers are directed by Ministry of Science and Higher Education.  Ministry of Science and Higher Education organizes annually training course for candidates for teachers of Polish as a foreign language in a foreign academic centers. For several years, this course has been organized in cooperation with the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska in Lublin. It should be emphasized that this system is a complementary system to the direct exchange programs of academics, conducted by Polish universities and their foreign partners. In the academic year 2011/12 they were sent to 31 countries (97 academic centers) 104 teachers.

Table 2. Number of countries and Academic Centers with specialist in Polish language and culture in academic year 2011/2012 (first 12 countries).


Number of teachers











Great Britain




Czech Republic










Source: Writer’s own elaboration based on data from Minister of Science and Higher Education


Table 3. Number of certified examination candidates (2004-2010) by 10 first countries of origin.













































South Korea






Source: Minister of Science and Higher Education, data processed by the writer

Polish language belongs to the West Slavonic group of Indo-European languages. Because of its structure, Polish language is classified as an inflectional and synthetic language. As a separate language, Polish began to shape in tenth century, and played its crucial role during formation and development of the Polish state. In the earliest time, Polish language preserved records of individual words from the twelfth century. Until the fourteenth century, Polish language existed only in the regional and folk spoken varieties while supra-regional varieties of language developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as evidenced by Renaissance literature were also written in Polish. Initially, the development of the Polish language was influenced by the neighboring languages – German and Czech, as well as Latin. In later centuries Polish was marked by a significant influence of the French language. The number of Polish speakers can be estimated to more than 45 million people, while 38 million of which live in Poland. Polish language is used by the groups of Poles and the native Polish who live abroad such as in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, France, and also in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Ukraine. Locally, the most commonly spoken dialects used are Kashubian, Silesian, and Mazovian.

Polish is not a popular language; however, the number of people learning Polish as a foreign language has been increasing. The number of learners can be estimated nearly 10 000 worldwide, approximately one third of languages courses take place in Poland.

According to the data, the most candidates are from three countries: Germany, Ukraine and United States. Generally, the candidates are citizens from Poland’s neighboring countries: Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, then Western Europe countries. However, among 48 of the candidates, there are candidates from distant countries like U.S., China, Japan or South Korea. The candidates from U.S. are mostly Polish origin citizens, unlike to Asian candidates. Seen from the first two years of certified examination, the candidates were mostly non-polish origin, approximately 70 % of the candidates. It indicates that the interest towards Polish language by citizens is not related to Poland citizenship. The selection has been treated valuably as a rare competence in labor market. Currently, the estimation of Polish origin candidates is estimated to 45% of all (

The promotion of Polish culture abroad, including Polish language seems to be not sufficient. Some of the weaknesses of Polish policy are: lack of mechanism and idea for adjusting the strategy of promoting culture to changes, lack of coherent culture promoting policy, lack of appropriate organizational and financial instruments, insufficient use of modern forms of communication, and insufficient facilities in doing the promotion. Moreover, if we see Poland in general, there are some imperfect conditions such as: lack of studies on cultural promotion abroad in various countries and regions, insufficient business sector interest in culture communication, low budget for doing the cultural promotion. On the other hands, there are some advantages which should be highlighted such as the diversity of Polish culture, the rich cultural heritage, the unique culture heritage, the increasing competence of personnel in organizations and institutions of culture and foreign promotion. Policy-makers should remember about threats for Polish culture promotion, which are: civilization decline – Poland as a passive recipient, rather than an active supplier of high IQ content for ideas and cultural goods in global circulation, small or even lack of knowledge for improving  promotion, low appreciation of its impact on state-brand of building process, direct investments, international trade and tourism, unwillingness,  a priori, to consider culture as a part of economic, low budget for promotion of Polish culture (Mocek 2010).

The ideological context in which foreign promotion of Polish language could be carried out is favorable. It is defined by a modern concept of human rights which is declared in the acts of the United Nations, Council of Europe and other international institutions. Another source of promoting multilingualism is ecolinguistics. According to this humanistic approach, the protection of natural objects and their environment is extended to objects of culture. Every language, even the smallest, is regarded as a common, universal heritage that should be protected along with their demographic, cultural and geographical environment.  The ideology in European Union’s environmental policy is the recognition of all official languages, meaning in practice: incurring very high costs of translations, allocating certain amounts from a common budget for international exchange programs (including students, teachers and students of foreign languages) and promotion of regional languages (Pawłowski 2006).

The ideological element of Polish language policy should become the communicative vision of Europe – a continent of diversity – which indirectly determines the language profile of Europeans capable of conscious and  active participation in the life in not only its region, but throughout the European Union. It seems that EU citizens should finally accept the fact that EU does not only include two, but the three pillars of languages: Latin, Germanic and Slavic. The language of communication generally consists of global language (English), Germanic language (German is the obvious candidate), Romance language (several natural candidates) and a large Slavic language (natural candidate is Polish). It is believed that the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe, which in the past was the source of innumerable persecutions. Conflicts become the common prosperity of all Europeans (Pawłowski 2006: 7-8).



Both Poland and Indonesia have a colonial history, however, in different dimensions, from a piece of history that was taken from them. The Poland colonization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries produced a paradoxical post-colonial Polish mentality. It may be surprising, forasmuch Poland is certainly not a typical post-colonial state.  The majority of political scientists probably would agree with the statement that Poland cannot even be discussed in post-colonial terms. However, seen from cultural and literacy perspectives it is not so clear. Some scholars in cultural studies attempt to analyze Polish identity and politics in post-colonial terms and are focused on three themes: the Polish past presence in the Eastern Europe, the subordination to the Soviet empire, new forms of depending to Western countries (Gawrycki 2009:7-8; 2011:225-233).

Both Poland and Indonesia have their regional, in case if Indonesia also global, aspirations, and both have the potential to play more significant role in politics. Both have attractive cultural heritage with global significance. What makes these countries different is the way how they understood role of culture in the world. Presented article aimed to analyze the impact of language promotion abroad, as a part of cultural policy. Effective language policy is an inherent component of soft power resources, supporting the state’s foreign policy, country’s image in building instrument and the means of better intercultural understanding.

Polish language foreign policy, and broader cultural policy and its promotion abroad is not as effective as in the case of Indonesia. Poland’s promotion of language concentrates on Polish origin people, while Indonesian policy is also strongly focused on non-Indonesians origin people. Poland lacks of coherent cultural policy, and seems that underestimates significance of culture. Indonesia, as a multiethnic, thus the multicultural state seems to understand more sensitively the importance of culture in international relations, therefore importance of promoting the language in international relations.

I myself have been learning Indonesian language in the embassy of Indonesia in Warsaw. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes Poland the 34th most populous country in the world.  As it was mentioned, Polish language is not popular in the world. Neither is Indonesian, though Indonesian population over 237 million people makes Indonesia the 4th most populous country. However, it is not about population, but how many people has been learning language in the world. Indonesia seems to “tell its story better”.


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