I am working on making my ability to communicate in Ukrainian better.
Below are some steps that I am taking - it would be interesting to look back at this (which is a reason for many things on this blog:).
- I downloaded a dictionary on my phone, computer etc. (including the offline versions) - I am using Google translate and "star" the words that I think should be in my active use. My goal is to look up at least one word a day. I also write down new words in my pocket notebook and have a document going on my phone/in the cloud - for new and useful words and expressions.
- In my daily news intake, there is one source that is totally in Ukrainian and I spend my time reading headlines out loud in my head. And, obviously - articles if there are any that I would like to read. But the daily goal is to go over the headlines.
- I found all the books in Ukrainian that were in the house and now I included reading in Ukrainian in my reading life. I started (and am still going through) the children's books or books adapted for children first. I plan to re-read books that I read at some point and hope to get to them next - before I start on literature that is new to me. (I tried - it was slow and discouraging).
- I listen to videos and podcasts. These vary a lot and are often emotionally drenching. But there are many topics - like literature, economics, and science that are not as emotional and give me access to contemporary Ukrainian language and topics. Here are my favorite: Книгосховище, Літературні Балачки, Харківські Історії, Українські Казки, Буде тобі наука, Простими словами, та ось гарний епізод про перехід на українську. If you have an English speaker who wants to try and learn some basic words, a good place to start would be Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.
- I listen to Ukrainian songs (and sing them when nobody is around :) - to practice getting words out of my passive vocabulary onto my tongue and to work on my phonetics). Here is my spotify list of Ukrainian Songs. It is a big pile of whatever I noticed, without order to sort later, ever-changing.
- I found a good site with the words for many of the songs from my list: https://nashe.com.ua/ as I try to learn some of the songs by heart (as poetry). And I read some poetry.
- I follow this language marathon for some interesting subjects and might take their course too: https://www.instagram.com/shymanovski/
- I write in Ukrainian: letters to people in Ukraine, all communication with volunteers and companies in Ukraine, and Ukraine-centric projects that I support. I also found some accounts on Instagram which which use Ukrainian language. I read, and I write some comments regularly.
- Quite a few of my friends with whom I always communicated in russian language switched to Ukrainian. And even though some offered me to keep russian as the main language I do my best to respect their choice and we communicate in Ukrainian. I often stumble or misuse words, other languages keep getting mixed up and sometimes I forget and switch to russian completely - but everyone I spoke to so far is patient with me and helps me get better.
- We try to use Ukrainian in our everyday life within the family. It is always educational with my parents as they are fluent and enjoy reading poetry or telling me about some obscure words. It is frustrating for the parts of the family that have only the basics knowledge. And it is just plain hard. But it is getting better.
- an electronic dictionary for my kindle;
- a place where I can buy electronic books in Ukrainian;
- a lists of books / authors to read, podcasts to listen etc.
- more songs for my playlist;
- what else would you recommend?
This post originally included a background of where I grew up, how come I am from the Ukraine but my first language is russian, some family history, and the story of Ukrainian language. As I wrote all of that I realized that many topics need extensive citation and many topics are tumultuous right now because of the war and how much havoc it wreaked on the world and individual people.
So I decided to leave all of that in a draft to which I might return one day.