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.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs