I hope such a question would be permitted even though I'm afraid it might be a bit too general.

For context: I'm in my mid 20s, and I grew up a Russian speaker (living in Canada so it's not like I hear the language on the street) even though all my relatives are from Ukraine (Kyiv or Chernihiv). It's just what language has been spoken at home for many generations. But it's not like there was no exposure to Ukrainian either because there were always some books in Ukrainian, or even music.

I've always been curious about Ukrainian, and I've made a point especially following 2014 to learn a bit. I listen to music in Ukrainian and sometimes come across stuff written in Ukrainian. For example, as long as it's not too technical I can get the general idea of something written in Ukrainian on this site. I'm better at reading than oral comprehension - partially because it gives me time to think through pitfalls (e.g. питання has nothing to do with torture) or watch for what would sort of work in Russian but not in common speech (e.g. місяць / месяц for Moon).

To me, online resources for learning Ukrainian seem to be geared to someone with no knowledge of any Slavic language. Because I'm comfortable in Russian, I feel like it simultaneously gives me a big advantage from similarity in vocabulary and grammar and a big disadvantage because of differences in vocabulary and grammar. If I were to try to write all this out in Ukrainian, I fear it would come out as ungrammatical Ukrainian with Russian calques and maybe some Russian words with a vowel changed to і.

My question is thus: are there any resources online that would be helpful for a Russian speaker to improve on their Ukrainian? Or, is there any advice for someone in my situation?


1 Answer 1


Ukrainian and Russian languages are quite close. Although the Russian languages isn't the closest one to the Ukrainian language, never-the-less from practical point of view they're relatively close: they're both Slavic (and even both East Slavic) and Russians often can partially understand Ukrainian and even you said that with your Russian background you partially understand Ukrainian.

My point of view is that gives you a great advantage. You can skip the steps that adults are usually starting with when trying to learn a completely new language and immediately go to the last (and the most efficient) step — practice. Read Ukrainian literature, watch Ukrainian movies (or movies with Ukrainian dubbing), speak with Ukrainian friends. Additional advantage for you is that many Ukrainians understand/speak Russian (often it's considered as disadvantage by Ukrainians, because the most probable reason for that is not just the proximity of the languages, but the fact that for years, decades or even centuries there was some pressure to make Ukrainians to speak Russian, but personally for you that's an advantage) and many young Ukrainians understand/speak English, so if during your practice you can't express your thoughts in clear Ukrainian (but with parts in Russian or English) you would be understood anyway.

There are some sites that can correct your writing (e.g. Lang-8) — but communicating with some Ukrainian friends (if you have or can get ones) looks as more efficient way for me.

P.S.: Sorry for quite subjective and non-specific answer.

P.P.S.: As for finding Ukrainian conversational partners… Oleksandra Mazur expressed a proposition to help you via messaging in her deleted answer. Sadly, her answer was deleted because it didn't fit StackExchange; and StackExchange doesn't feature personal messages; never-the-less if contact her (e.g. via Facebook) she might try to help you.

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