Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted draft law No. 9432 "On the Use of the English Language in Ukraine" for consideration to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament)

Media reports says the bill provides for officially establishing the status of English as one of the languages of international communication in Ukraine, determining which officials are required to speak English, and regulating the use of this language in the spheres of government, self-government, education, culture, health care, transport, etc.

According to the bill, money for the implementation of such norms should be allocated from the national and local budgets.

The main objective of the bill is reportedly in increasing Ukraine’s competitiveness, its investment and tourist attractiveness, and creating conditions for Ukrainians to master English.

Recall, the Ukrainian government in early June last year was working on legislation that would designate English as the language of business communication.  Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on the Telegram messaging app at the time that “English is now used in business communication throughout the civilized world, so giving it such a status in Ukraine will promote business development, attract investment and accelerate Ukraine’s European integration.”   

In August last year, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy reportedly developed a bill on establishing a special status of English in the country.  

Ukrainian is the sole official language of the country.  The findings of a survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in 2019 showed that about a half of the population speaks mostly or only Ukrainian and some 30 per cent speak mostly or only Russian.   

According to the Sweden-based international education company EF Education First, English proficiency in Ukraine is only “moderate.”  In 2021, the country placed 30 out of 35 surveyed countries in Europe, lagging behind Poland and Belarus.

Russian plays a large role in business and the media. And it is still very widely spoken in many cities, including Kyiv, although the use of Russian has been increasingly restricted.  Legislation obliges businesses and other institutions to use Ukrainian.