5 Amazing Reasons to Learn Ukrainian Today

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian Right NowToday, I’m delighted to feature a guest post on a language that’s never been covered on I Will Teach You A Language before. Have you ever been tempted to learn Ukrainian?

The author is Lesley Vos, a blogger, nature lover and coffee addict!

Maybe it has never occurred to you to learn Ukrainian, but it should!

By the end of this post, I am going to convince you that Ukrainian is a great pick for your next language.

Many Associate Ukraine With…

It’s up to you to finish this sentence…

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word Ukraine?

Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to visit this country and attend summer courses of practical psychology there.

If someone had told me then I would fall in love with the Ukrainian language, I would have laughed in their face and never believed them.

But never say never.

Now here I am, writing about my experience of learning this beautiful language.

And here I am, sharing five reasons for you should learn Ukrainian or, at least, start thinking about learning it.

1. Ukrainian Is Spoken By Millions

Ukrainian is the official language of the largest European country, with more than 46 million people speaking it.

It takes the 26th place among the most widespread languages in the world due to the number of its speakers, and it is the second most widespread Slavic language after Russian.

Ukraine is a beautiful country with the geographical centre of Europe located in it.

It has a rich culture and kind people – proud Ukrainians who are ready to share their cultural heritage with others.


You’ll Get to Learn Ukrainian and a Whole Lot About the Country’s Culture and Customs

If you don’t want to offend Ukrainians and stumble at their country’s sovereignty and independence, keep in mind the fact it’s Ukraine, not The Ukraine.

In English we don’t use the definite article with countries’ names (it’s Italy, not The Italy; and it’s France, not The France, after all), it is a huge grammatical mistake to use it for Ukraine.

Also, its capital, when transliterated from the Ukrainian language, is Kyiv (not Kiev, as many of you might suppose).


2. You Need to Learn Ukrainian For Education

I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s worth studying in Ukraine.

The country is open to international students, and its universities offer dozens of programmes and scholarships for applicants from foreign countries.

Ukrainian education is popular among students from African and Asian countries such as Libya, Bangladesh, India, China, Nigeria, Egypt, Jordan, and others.

A variety of programmes and relatively low cost of education makes Ukraine attractive for students wishing to get a medical or engineering education abroad.

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - National University of Kyiv

Barriers to Studying in Ukraine are Only Linguistic Ones

Educational institutions in Ukraine have four different instructional languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English, and French (for medical programs).

International students who apply for Ukrainian universities have three options:

  1. Take a language proficiency test.
  2. Spend one academic year in Ukraine, attending the preparatory faculty and learn the Ukrainian language there.
  3. Choose a program in English or French languages, and learn Ukrainian as an independent course.

That’s all well and fine, but a basic knowledge of Ukrainian would be a good skill to have.


3. Ukrainian Is The World’s 3rd Most Beautiful Language

Based on the results of the languages competition that took place in Paris in 1934, Ukrainian is the third most beautiful by its phonetics, vocabulary, phraseology, and sentence structure after French and Persian.

Also, it’s officially the second most melodic language in the world after Italian, so it comes as no surprise that many admit the Ukrainian language reminds them a nightingale’s song.

To make sure it’s true, you might want to listen to world-famous Summertime by George Gershwin and Carol of the Bells in their original language, which is…Ukrainian!

  • Summertime was inspired by the ancient Ukrainian lullaby Oi Hodyt’ Son Kolo Vikon. (Listen to it here)
  • Carol of the Bells, a Christmas song we all hear and sing yearly, comes from Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. Peter J. Wilhousky adapted its lyrics, following the original performance of the Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall in 1921. (Listen to it here)

The Ukrainian Language is Very Flexible

With more than five million synonyms, Ukrainian is versatile and diverse.

According to the Brief Synonym Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language, the biggest number of synonyms, which is 45, goes to the word “бити” (to beat).

Ukrainian has fewer homonyms, which says a lot about the lexical wealth of the language.

Ukrainian is unique with its alphabet having two letters you won’t find in any other language:

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Alphabet

Ґ sounds like /g/. The thing is, Ukrainians also have Г that sounds somewhere between /g/ and /h/.

Many don’t see any difference between these sounds, which makes it possible for you to turn Harry Potter into Garry Potter, for example.

Ї is a letter that makes Ukrainian so melodic.

It sounds like /ji/, not /i/ or /y/, and, as Ukrainians joke themselves, makes their language look and sound sexy.

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Ukrainian is Sexy


4. Learning Ukrainian Helps You Easily Understand Other Languages

Once you learn Ukrainian, you can understand Polish, Czech, Belarusian, or other Slavic languages because they are quite similar.

Coming from the same family of languages, they share common sounds and roots of words.

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Understanding Other Languages

For example, those who learn Ukrainian will eventually know 70% of Polish lexicon and a third of its grammar rules.

But if you plan to understand Russian, Ukrainian won’t help you, as the Russian language differs from other Slavic languages.

Though it shares most grammar rules with them, it still lacks a lot of Ukrainian, Polish, and Belarusian phonemes.


5. You Need Ukrainian to See The World’s Most Unique Places

The country has seven UNESCO World Heritage sights, including the 11th century Saint-Sophia Cathedral, the ancient city of Chersonesus, and forests of the Carpathians.

Ukrainian people are bilingual, understanding both Russian and Ukrainian, but if you plan to travel to the western regions of the country, I would suggest you learn their national language.

Ukrainians are proud of their beautiful language. If you speak Russian to them, there’s a big chance they will respond in Ukrainian.

Some Cool Places to Visit in Ukraine

For those loving McDonald’s, go to the main train station in Kyiv – it is the third most visited McDonald’s in the world.

If you are more of a transit enthusiast, go to Arsenal’na metro station in Kyiv, known as the world’s deepest one (105.5 meters below ground).

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Arsenal'Na metro station

Or, visit the Atlantis cave in the Kamianets-Podilskyi region, which is 2,400 meters in length and 3,120 meters in area.

For those who prefer ghosts of the past, go to Chernobyl – the city of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster and the place of inspiration for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. creators.

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Chernobyl

I had a chance to visit it, and I suggest forgetting everything you have read or heard about Chernobyl before your trip there.

You have to see the place with your own eyes.

For nature lovers, go to the forests of Ukraine near Kleven.

Known as the Tunnel of Love, this railroad is one for a private train that provides wood for a local factory.

5 Reasons to Learn Ukrainian - Tunnel of Love

I’ve been there, too. It looks awesome, especially for those willing to find lovely photos for their Instagram accounts.

My friend from France once said:

“It wasn’t me who chose to learn Ukrainian. It’s Ukrainian that chose me: once I heard it, I couldn’t resist a temptation of starting to learn this language and reveal all secrets of its own. It’s like meeting a girl: you see her, you fall in love with her, and you are ready to do everything for this love to become mutual.”

Whatever your reason to learn Ukrainian, I promise you won’t regret your decision.

Proud and beautiful, this language will broaden your horizons and teach you to speak with your heart rather than linguistic units.


Written by Lesley Vos, a content writer, blogger, and contributor to publications on education, marketing, and lifestyle. Lesley is a nature lover, coffee addict, and passionate traveller with her heart lost in Ukrainian Lviv. She is in love with words and is working hard to make her writing skills better.

Connect with Lesley on Twitter or say hi on Facebook.

Have you tried to learn Ukrainian? What are your favourite things about the language? Leave a comment below!

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  • I learned Ukrainian back in the mid-90s. I had a great time, getting to know a people who are not well known or understood (kind of like their language). I didn’t find it more “beautiful” or “unique” than any other language, but I loved it.

    I also taught Hebrew in Ukraine ten years later. I conducted the course in Ukrainian, which was a real challenge since there are no Hebrew textbooks in Ukrainian. The Classics department, where I was located there, was undergoing a fascinating project in translating classic Latin and Greek texts into Ukrainian–some for the first time. I told my students they were in charge of writing a Hebrew textbook in Ukrainian.

    Ten years after that I went to the Polyglot Conference in NYC. I spoke more Ukrainian than any other language (besides English): once to a fellow-attendee and once to a fruit-vendor outside. Very practical!

  • Anna Liashenko

    As a Ukrainian, I cannot agree with this post. I love Ukrainian as well as Russian and I’m happy to be bilingual but I see absolutely no sense in learning Ukrainian by a foreigner unless this foreigner knows Russian.
    Firstly, Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine but if you come to Kyiv, Central Ukraine or Eastern Ukraine, you definitely need to know Russian because if people in these places even speak Ukrainian, it’s a mix of Russian and Ukrainian, called Surzhyk (Суржик). Ukrainian is rather spoken by people from the West of Ukraine but there you will face dialects. Ukrainian from a textbook is likely to be spoken by public people and media but not always.
    Secondly, it’s absolutely impossible to study if you know only Ukrainian because many professors speak Russian or Surzhyk as well as the other students. To be honest, Ukrainian education is in deep crisis and I don’t think that it’s a useful experience to study at Ukrainian university. There is so much said and written about the problems of our education that I don’t even want to try to outline all its disadvantages.
    Thirdly, the modern Ukrainian which we, Ukrainians, learn from textbooks is spoken or written NOWHERE. We use it mainly for taking tests.
    Finally, you can visit all the mentioned outstanding places if you speak only Russian.
    I want to say that if you already know Russian and you’re fascinated about Ukrainian, of course, it would be pleasurable to learn this language. It’s really beautiful and exquisite. But it doesn’t open any new doors to education, knowledge or travelling.

    • Thanks for your comment, Anna! People’s motivation to learn different languages is always complex, but what you’ve said is very useful.

    • As a Ukrainian, I cannot agree with this comment 🙂 It’s just an example of bad experience. I live in Kyiv and I speak so called “textbook Ukrainian” EVERYWHERE & I have a lot of friends who do.
      Secondly, I’ve got my BA and MA degrees in Ukraine, in Kyiv to be exact, and NONE of my professors spoke Russian in class. And the level of education was high enough to continue it in one of the best universities in Poland. You just need to choose good places like Kyiv-Mohyla Academy or Ukrainian Catholic University, for example.
      Finally, you can visit all the mentioned outstanding places in Ukraine even if you speak only Russian or English or Arabic. But you’ll never really understand the culture (in the broad sense of this word) and feel yourself completely comfortable there.

      • Anna Liashenko

        Okay, there’re different experiences 🙂
        Do you really speak textbook Ukrainian? My friends from Western Ukraine speak Ukrainian but they always say that it’s not the language we learn at school from textbooks. Anyway, will you and your friends understand Russian? Generally, it would be difficult for a foreigner to stay for long in Ukraine if this foreigner doesn’t know Russian.
        I think, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is not worse than Kyiv-Mohyla Academy or Ukrainian Catholic University.
        And yes, I agree that you would not feel and understand culture without the language but this can be said about every language. I wanted to say that for such purposes as studying and travelling, there’s no need to learn Ukrainian because English or Russian is enough.

  • Oleh

    Even though I higly respect my fellow countryman Pavlo’s opinion I can’t agree more with Anna that for the purpose of living or travelling in Ukraine you don’t neсessarily have to speak Ukrainian. There is no doubt that Ukrainian is one of the most beautiful languages in the world and I am proud to be Ukrainian, but the fact is that all Ukrainians can understand and speak Russian, too. Moreover there are many Ukrainians whose mother tongue is Russian and they have pretty bad command of Ukrainian. That is why it is better to speak both Russian and Ukrainian to feel absolutely comfortable in Ukraine. But please don’t worry if you speak or learn only one of them. Ukrainians are very friendly and you will be more than welcomed everywhere whatever language you speak. One more thing, let me give you a hint, if you find yourself in a situation where people around you don’t speak your target language just ask them to swich into it and I can assure you that they will gladly do that. Welcome to Ukraine.

    • Thanks for the comment Oleh! I suppose native English speakers always face the same dilemma … you can always use English and there’s little need to learn the language of the country you visit. Hopefully readers of this blog will be motivated to learn Ukrainian for the beauty of the language, even if you can get by in Russian!

      • Oleh

        Thank you, Olly, for your comment and you are absolutely right. I believe every Ukrainian would be happy if somebody wants to learn their language.