In Ukraine, but without Ukrainian

ver since I moved to Ukraine, I’ve had to accept several lifestyle changes. I was of course well aware of the considerably lower salary which I’d get, having lived for two and a half years in London. Although I should have suspected it, the significantly reduced amount of time spent travelling was going to be a surprise. This is not just due to the money, which on the face of it isn’t a big issue since I always like to prioritise spending for such things, the real problem is time. It just hadn’t occured to me that being restricted by term times meant that going away when I wanted was no longer an option. What’s more, I’d got very used to the international transport infrastructure of Western Europe. The distances involved are much greater than I’d imagined. For example, the distance from Sevastopol to Kiev is the same as from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and on the train 14 hours. Simferopol airport offers flights to internal destinations as well as Moscow and Istanbul, so there’s no way to get around without at least changing once. To cut a long story short, I had the option to travel for a week and I was determined to take advantage of it to get as much language practice as possible. On the whole, I love the opportunities I have for language development living in Ukraine, but it is a monocultural society in comparison any what can be found in any Western European country. The opportunities for language practice with native speakers is limited to Russian. Even though I live in Ukraine, I don’t even speak Ukrainian. Crimea Is a Russian speaking region, and despite seeing lots of things written in the country’s only official language (adverts, official signs, packets in the supermarket) there’s more written in Russian. I don’t own a TV (but do regularly stream a variety of European news channels and series), so I have next to zero exposure to the spoken language. What’s more, several weeks ago there was someone in our school talking on the phone. I asked what language they were speaking and was told Ukrainian! I was shocked. I would like to learn Ukrainian but I completely lack the motivation due to its complete lack of usage in the part of the world where I live. For all intents and purposes it really is a foreign language.


I have a clear aim in life - to learn languages and to help others learn as well. I want to share my knowledge and experiences in the hope that others can turn a daunting process of language learning into an enjoyable adventure. I want this blog to be a tool that people can use together for the benefit of learning languages to share their own common experiences. No one is perfect, especially me! For this reason I appreciate any and all comments and criticism to help improve this site (of course, I won't shy away from positive ideas as well). Feel free to write in any language - if I can't speak it, I'll make an effort to reply anyway!

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Posted in Language experiences, Ukraine living
8 comments on “In Ukraine, but without Ukrainian
  1. Vladimir says:

    James, your are the BEST!)))


  2. Marcus says:

    흥미로운 글이야. 넌 언제 한국어 공부를 시작할거야?


  3. irina says:

    I’ve just got back from west Ukraine. Ukrainian is a foreign language 🙂


  4. Lesia says:

    Джеймс, ти живеш в КРИМУ і як самі кримчани кажуть досить часто, Крим – це не Україна. А мовне питання – популярне питання наших політиків для замилювання очей. Насправді, українська мова дуже мелодійна. Ти ж сам чув)))) Носіїв мови ще поки дуже багато, але агресивна політика сусідньої держави зробить все можливе для винищення спочатку мови, із мовою має піти в забуття культура, ментальність, характерні риси нації…. це сумно… Я із задоволенням говоритиму і писатиму тобі українською :_-) Мовою моїх батьків 😉


  5. Lesia says:

    І да, я не погоджюсь із висловом “Ukrainian is a foreign language”. Досить не об’єктивно, як на мене


  6. Pavel says:

    Where are your new stories, James? I’d like to read something from you!


  7. […] the Ukrainian language, my feelings about it and my attempts at learning it, which can be seen here and […]


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