L.I started learning Ukrainian this fall. After a debriefing trip to the country, I felt that I should try not to be linguistically impotent upon my return.The Ukraine Institute in London offers remote group and individual lessons with highly qualified teachers. However, perhaps you would like to learn from an instructor based in Ukraine. I was recommended by a friend of a friend, an internal refugee from the capital who currently lives in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine.
Olya Makar, who has managed to make Zoom lessons fun and demanding, continues her work despite many setbacks. Due to Russian missile attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure, she only has access to electricity for her three two-hour blocks during her day (presumably on schedule, but subject to unexpected changes). Yes), Internet connection is also unstable. I have to reluctantly cancel some sessions.
Like most Ukrainians I’ve met, she takes such issues seriously. Things can easily get tough, she says. “Every time we get attacked, things get worse,” she says. “But you will find new ways to adapt.” I also watch her Ukrainian Lessons podcast. In this podcast, Anna’s bright and charming voice, Ms. Ohiko, guides her through the early stages of language learning: greetings, describing her family, eating out, and more. The first season of the podcast, produced in her 2016, has the bittersweet feel of time-traveling to another Ukraine, where Ohoiko explores Kyiv’s markets hit by Russian cruise missile attacks and her favorites. describes a carefree trip to the park. When I was in town this past October.
Then there’s the language app Duolingo, which surprisingly has a Ukrainian course. Duolingo I thought Ukrainian might be a minority sport, but last month the app’s data processor said Duolingo was the fastest growing language in the UK this year, with user numbers up 1,254%. I reported what I did. In the Republic of Ireland he is a staggering 2,229%. In the UK, February and he had a surge in Ukrainian learning in March, followed by another peak in May. At this time, the system finally started to pick up gear and a significant number of Ukrainians began to arrive. The curve in the graph reflects the inefficiency of learning in the UK. refugee plan.
The overall trend is similar in other countries hosting refugees, with Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic seeing a surge in Ukrainian learning this year. But according to Cindy Blanco, one of Duolingo’s learning scientists, Japan, Vietnam and Latin America are also surging, with “nearly every country on the planet” using the app. Many of them accept few or no refugees. By 2022, she says her 1.3 million people around the world will have started learning the language with her Duolingo.
In short, people around the world are learning Ukrainian to show solidarity with the victims of Vladimir Putin’s aggression. At the same time, Russian growth is slowing, corresponding to a decline compared to the growth rate of app users overall. Ironically, Vladimir Putin himself is behind this extraordinary and original goal in terms of soft diplomacy. He is indirectly responsible for the very presence of Ukrainian in the app.In 2014, after Russia occupied Crimea, the Peace Corps withdrew volunteers from the country and freed some of its staff. and pursued individual projects. One of them, her Iryna Krupska, has worked with Duolingo to develop a Ukrainian language course and an English course for Ukrainian speakers.
There are many reasons to learn a language. Schools, colleges, jobs, relationships, ancestry, and potential vacations and trips. However, sometimes the reason is political as language and politics go hand in hand. Ukrainian was heard on television footage of the invasion. It was heard when President Volodymyr Zelensky’s daily speeches were broadcast around the world. After the war, it quickly became clear that the language itself was in danger of conflict. Putin’s obsession with Ukraine hinges on his mistaken belief that the country exists only as an appendage of Russia and has no identity of its own. Many Ukrainians have given up Russian in favor of speaking Ukrainian as a symbol of resistance.
Ohiko says she’s seen a surge in the number of her podcasts. For example, on Spotify she increased by 600%. Also, her Facebook group for her Ukrainian language lessons has grown from thousands of her active users before the February invasion to 10,000 now. When I confided in her that Russian was a more “helpful” language to learn and that she felt it would be easier to adapt to many countries in the former Soviet Union, she said one of the main reasons she started the podcast One is her belief that Russians are entering a long-term decline in her country and elsewhere.
“I always felt that this was a generational issue,” she says. “When I was old and retired, and Ukraine was developing towards democratic values and European integration, I always hoped that the Russians would not be as powerful as Ukraine used to be. The transition to language was slow, but now it’s going fast.”
Ukrainian is not easy for those who do not speak Slavic yet. I am not fantasizing myself. If I can say a few words in Ukrainian and order dinner, I have no problem. But for me, too, learning a language goes far beyond the practical. It makes me feel connected to my Ukrainian friends and I am drawn to the cultural landscape that I have been covering. Whether it’s because teachers are struggling to keep their jobs or because social media posts of Ukrainian lessons emphasize vocabulary, they feel closer to the country when they practice the language. Anna Ohiko says. Air raids and missiles, different types of weapons, how to explain the energy crisis, etc. are now very important to us. ”
I feel a small shot of victory too. (And it gives me chills to learn that he died in 1963 at the age of 28 after being beaten by the police.) I want to be one of those who learn to increase timeon the calm shores of the Black Sea.