News / Europe

Euro 2012 Prompts Ukrainians to Learn English

Anna Podulenko
KYIV - While members of the Ukrainian parliament are fighting over the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, English is becoming more popular in the country - without any government directive.  Market forces - in which supply dictates demand - as well as the Euro 2012 football (soccer) championship, co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, are having an impact on Ukrainians becoming trilingual. 
Euro 2012 has changed Ukrainians’ daily routine, especially those who live in the host-cities.  The championship has attracted many tourists to the country, who remind Ukrainians that while the national parliament struggles to decide which language they should speak - Russian or Ukrainian - more and more people around the world are turning to English, especially in international business.

With that in mind, some Ukrainians, on their own, have begun speaking and running their businesses using several languages.

“We organize many tours with English-speaking guides, but most of them are still ordered by some self-organized travel groups that are coming here to Kyiv," said Arseniy Finberg, project coordinator for Interesting Kyiv.
The Ukrainian capital is also switching to English. The names of subway stations are now announced in Ukrainian and English, and all the signs are in both languages. And restaurant owners have added a few extra menus in English to those they already have.
“Last year when I was here, everything was in Ukrainian. Now everywhere, in the subway for example, all the signs are in English, and also the speaker voice is in Ukrainian and in English," said Swedish tourist Katerina.  "And you can really tell that the town has prepared to welcome the tourists because now all the signs are in two languages and so on.”
Ukrainians are sometimes surprised by how well soccer fans from abroad speak English - even though it is not their national language. Those who have had a chance to take part in Euro 2012, have seen that market forces are in effect, with those knowing at least three languages in demand among employers.
“English language is a must these days," said Euro 2012 volunteer Tetiana. "It doesn’t matter in which field you work, you can find it connected with English."
“The quantity of people speaking English is increasing with a speed of a sound. I know people who don’t speak English they start attending language schools. Almost everyone now speaks English," said Kateryna, another Euro 2012 volunteer.
With the flow of tourists to Kyiv, local residents are seeing the important role the English language plays - even in the course of watching soccer games in their home country.  As a result, Ukrainians are finding they are going back to their school years, trying to come up with a few English phrases - if only to explain to foreign fans why the Ukrainian team they are cheering for will win.

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Comment Sorting
by: oldfogie1 from: Sydney Australia
June 21, 2012 6:42 PM
When in Ukraine, I found most of the younger people spoke English to varying degrees, particularly in the cities. Older people, generally only knew Ukrainian, particularly in the villages.

English is being taught in Russia. One of my friends has been recruited to teach English there. Russia is aware of the importance of this language. It is not only useful for trade and tourism, but also as a way to access Western technology. Most of this technology is either written in the English language, or translated into English from other languages. This makes it essential for study purposes, particularly at University level. The Russian language is not widely known outside of the former USSR states. In any case, Russia also lags the West in developing new technology and the English language is essential to keep up to date with the rest of the world..

by: sergeyovitch from: Canada
June 21, 2012 5:24 PM
No doubt knowing English is great. The more languages one knows - the more opportunities. Unfortunately, in Ukraine, the Russian language was shoved down everyones throat for over 300 years. It is time that Ukrainians appreciate, know, use and protect their own language first.

by: davidjules from: Philippines
June 20, 2012 9:51 PM
Ukrainians should start learning English or should speak English for that language is very necessary in the business world.
Here in my country Philippines I am proud to say that most probably 90% of the people here can speak English and because of that a lot of American & European investors put up BPO companies here, that gives thousands of jobs for Filipinos & that helps our economy to grow. Apart from that, our tourism boost because a lot foreigners visit our country because there's no language barrier. English is no doubt very important. See? How beneficial English is!

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