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Exploring the Benefits of Learning Ukrainian as Interest in the Language Skyrockets

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The interest in learning Ukrainian has increased enormously since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. People around the world are taking classes to learn the language for many reasons. Some of them want to travel to Ukraine after the war to help the reconstruction, others want to support Ukraine in this brutal war. Most importantly, people want to make sure that the language and culture live on.

In a new episode of “Community Hour” interviewer Yuliia Kovalenko is joined by Iryna Konstantiuk. She has dedicated 20 years of her life to create a natural motivation for students to learn languages and cultures. Working at the Department of Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba, Iryna has facilitated the enrichment of the language and cultural heritage of Canadian Ukrainians, disseminating the academic ideas and accumulation of knowledge in different areas of Ukrainian studies. In this episode of Community Hour, Iryna, herself Ukrainian born, explains the benefits of learning Ukrainian as a second language and what opportunities students who take Ukrainian have.

Iryna Konstantiuk was born in Ukraine. She came to Canada at the end of the nineties and started working at the department of Slavic studies. She taught all levels of the Ukrainian language and also some culture courses. Throughout her life, she has been teaching Ukrainian to others. Throughout her work and all her activities, you can see how much she loves this language, and now she is passing on her passion to others.

She says,” language is culture”. She believes strongly in making sure that the rich Ukrainian culture lives on. She believes that all Ukrainian-Canadians and Immigrants should see themselves as ambassadors for Ukraine and to speak the Ukrainian language. The Russian regime suppressed the language, and there was a certain apathy among Ukrainians about going back to their original language, but she believes it is very important to retain it. It is also meaningful because other Canadians may be confused that if they see many Ukrainians speaking Russian, then it may not be entirely clear that they don’t have a strong affinity to Russia; that maybe Ukraine is rightly part of the Russian state.

Despite the difficulty of learning Ukrainian, many people want to speak it. Iryna explains why and what the benefits of studying Ukrainian language to foreigners.

“Ukraine is a remarkable country with huge potential. I always tell my students that Ukraine will need you. You can use your talents in any area you wish. If you are a historian, the Ukrainian archives are open now. If you are an economist, you can be hired by the World Bank, the European Bank for reconstruction and development. I have a few students who got jobs there. If you are interested in a military career, you can work for NATO. If you are interested in agriculture the opportunities are immense”, says Iryna Konstantiuk.

Iryna says being a teacher was always her dream. She has taught Ukrainian at the Department of Slavic Studies for 20 years. During this time Iryna developed her own approach.

“I love my work. I believe in every single student. I am convinced that everyone can learn a language. Ukrainian is not an easy language for English-speaking people to learn, but it’s very logical. My teaching methods include using Ukrainian songs, films, cartoons, and radio shows. I believe that through Ukrainian culture and songs students can learn the language successfully”, says Iryna.

Iryna is convinced that everyone can apply their talents. Iryna says it is her responsibility as a facilitator to help and create these opportunities.

– Yuliia Kovalenko, U Multicultural

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