Ukrainian Language Program

Professor Yurii (George) Shevelov (1908-2002)

The Ukrainian Language Program at Columbia University is a leading Ukrainian language instruction and research program in the United States. Its source of inspiration is the legacy of Professor Yuri (George) Shevelov, the greatest authority in Ukrainian language in the second half of the 20th century who taught at Columbia in 1954-1977. 

Since 2004, the Program has led the way in developing Ukrainian language instruction resources and pedagogy, and helping students of all levels to master Ukrainian for research, business, and travel. “Beginner’s Ukrainian with Interactive Online Workbook”, the popular textbook for US college students and self-learners around the world was first published in 2011 by the Hippocrene Books, Ltd. in New York and became the Program’s major contribution into the Ukrainian language learning resources. Its second and improved edition appeared in 2013 and was reprinted 2016, and 2019. Beginner's Ukrainian on Facebook. A trailblazing “Ukrainian-English Collocations Dictionary” that has no precedents in Slavic-English lexicography is to be published in 2021.

The Program has organized academic paper presentations and whole panels dedicated to current issues of the Ukrainian language pedagogy and language situation in Ukraine at such academic forums as the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages, the Association for Slavic, Eastern, and Eurasian Studies, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and the International Council for Central and East European Studies. The Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University has enjoyed a wide international recognition and respect and is a constant presence in Ukraine. It has fruitfully cooperated with the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the National Ivan Franko University, and the Ukrainian Catholic University (all in Ukraine), the University of Granada (Spain) and other universities. Over the last three years it has worked with the Fulbright Program in Ukraine in selecting the best candidates in Ukraine for the Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship Fellowship.

Through the Shared Course Initiative, the Program offers its courses not only to Columbia University students, but to students of Yale and Cornell Universities. Students of New York University, the New School for Social Research and the City University of New York can enroll in the Ukrainian language courses at Columbia through the Inter-University Consortium.

The Ukrainian Language Program offers three courses. Elementary and Intermediate Ukrainian meet three times a week. Advanced Ukrainian through Literature, Media, and Politics meets twice a week. Each class lasts for 75 minutes. The language student groups are small and usually vary in number between two and six. This ensures the level of intensity and communicative interaction with the instructor and among students that equals five classes a week instead of the actual three or two. Classes takes place in one of the state-of-the-art rooms equipped for distance teaching at the Columbia University Language Resource Center located in the International Affairs Building.

From the very first class students are encouraged to express themselves in Ukrainian, create with the language, appropriate it, take risks and maximize the material they aquire so that with some 500-word lexicon a Ukrainian language student communicates with the facility the speaker whose active lexicon is some 2,000 words. What matters is the progress each student makes and not how they compare to one another. Language is treated as a gateway to and a means of navigating the world of Ukrainian culture, history, and politics. Culture, history and politics are always a wider context and the real-life setting of learning Ukrainian at Columbia University. Students are immersed in the language of contemporary Ukrainian media, Internet, film, radio and fiction.

Ukrainian language courses syllabi

These generic syllabi that are adapted to the specific cognitive profile of the students each given semester

The placement test in Ukrainian is designed to determine the students’ level of language proficiency at which they will be most comfortable learning Ukrainian. The test consists of an oral and written part. It is administered twice a year a week before the beginning of the fall and spring semesters or by special arrangement with individual students. Both parts of the test are done online or, circumstances allowing, in person with the instructor. For more information on the Ukrainian language placement test write to Dr. Yuri Shevchuk at: [email protected]