A little hope: Linguistically supporting Ukrainian refugees in their transition to host countries

Andrew Wittmaier,

Department of English, Arizona State University, The United States of America

The refugee crisis in Ukraine creates a significant number of concerns for nations around the world. One major concern involves how to support the flood of millions of refugees crossing their borders, particularly for neighboring countries. In every case, though refugees need significant support in many areas, learning the language of commerce and communication in their host country often proves essential to success. In this case, Ukrainians bring L1 to this need to learn what is necessary to understand in the cultural context.  Ukrainians has undergone both significant oppression (Kazakevych, 2016) and significant revivals (Palko, 2019). In addition, it is continually in competition with Russia seeking dominance in the Ukrainian culture (Bueiko & Moga, 2019). These contexts, as well as others, must be explored to establish safe spaces to learn language for refugees. For creating safe places for Ukrainians to practice dynamic bilingualism, teachers and leaders can improve the sustainability of Ukrainians’ lives within their borders. Understanding these cultural and historical contexts may also lead to eased tensions between the natives that their countries are hosting Ukrainians. This paper reviews the research relating to the cultural context of Ukrainian. In reviewing the cultural context, the results indicate that Ukrainians struggle with their historical connections with Russian speakers, in such a way that they are able to speak bilingually in Ukrainian and Russian but do not like to mix these two, and that they are working in multiple ways to create a more “pure” Ukrainian. This research regards all these contexts individually. Then, at the end of the paper, they are explored as they relate directly to the classroom. Recommendations are provided to show how to support and utilize these cultural contexts as countries around the world prepare to receive Ukrainian refugees and teach them their languages of commerce and communication.


The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Seventh International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature (WWW.LLLD.IR), 11-12 June 2022, Ahwaz.