How to study Ukrainian for free

Want to learn Ukrainian, but daunted by the language, and not sure where to start?

One lesson in a week is enough for any foreigner to learn basic Ukrainian from scratch in just six months, tutors at Free Courses of Ukrainian Language say.

The company, founded in early 2013, has offices in 25 Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Ternopil, Chernihiv and Lviv. Each city has about four intakes per year, except in Ukraine’s capital — over 2016 there were 25 classes with up to 25 people each.

“What I want is to make Ukrainian interesting and through the language introduce Ukrainian culture to people,” Anastasia Rozlutska, the founder and coordinator of Free Courses, says.

She has been running this project for five years, aside from her main job.

“In Kyiv, people can study so many languages, but they can’t study Ukrainian (as a beginner).”

Why Ukrainian? 

Foreigners start studying Ukrainian for a range of reasons. The most common ones are that they have married a Ukrainian, are planning to marry a Ukrainian, or that they work for the government, where knowledge of Ukrainian is obligatory.

Fabian Abdala Marza from Argentina in an exception though. He has been married to a Ukrainian woman for five years, but he only made the decision to study Ukrainian after visiting the Carpathian mountains in 2015.

“In the capital I was more accustomed to Russian, but right after the trip to western Ukraine I fell in love with the Ukrainian language and told my wife that I want to study it.”

His wife supported his decision, and found Free Courses of Ukrainian Language for Marza. During the courses, which he finished in April 2016, he not only learned to read and speak Ukrainian, but also made some new friends.

“I still find it hard to believe that such high-quality courses are free of charge, based only on voluntary efforts,” Marza says. “I cannot describe the beautiful ambiance in those classes. We helped each other to progress, shared together very pleasant moments and deepened our knowledge of Ukrainian language and culture.”

Ukrainian only 

All the teachers at Free Courses of Ukrainian Language work for free — Olga Andrusenko is one of them. Having started as courses for Russian-speaking Ukrainians, over the years she and other volunteers have taught students from many countries: France, Russia, Poland, Iran, Belarus, Argentina, the United States, Spain, Kazakhstan, and many others.

“We launched this project to help Russian-speaking Ukrainians to fight the barrier, lose their fears, and start speaking Ukrainian, but as the time went by, more and more foreign students came to us,” says Andrusenko.

Rozlutska remembers one Ukrainian student from Zaporizhzhya whose mother tongue was Russian. “But he liked to repeat: when I speak Ukrainian, a brick falls off the Kremlin,” she says. “We fell in love with the saying and even made T-shirts with this exact phrase on it.”

Andrusenko says that for a teacher it is very hard to work with a group of 25–30 people from different countries all at once.

“One speaks English, another — Czech, others speak Polish, and you have to make this entire group speak Ukrainian,” she laughs. “But of course, we’re able to handle the situation.”

During the lesson, the teacher speaks Ukrainian, since this is the only way to really learn the language, Andrusenko says.

Andrusenko speaks Ukrainian outside of the class as well. For her, it is a matter of self-respect.

She says sometimes foreigners come to Ukraine, start learning Ukrainian, but in a month or two, hearing mostly Russian on Kyiv streets, they give up attending lessons.

So Andrusenko works hard to make her lessons interesting, so people return to the class not because they need to but because they want to.

To get a place on course, message the coordinators on Facebook or send an e-mail in English, Russian or Ukrainian, and they will give all the details on when and where the course starts.
+38063  821 3392

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